• Tina Figarelli

How I prepare for a painting

Hello everyone! In this post, I will be sharing my steps towards beginning and planning for a painting. Planning is one of my favorite parts, but it can also be the most challenging. Finding research and inspiration for narratives behind my pieces is the most important part in preparing for me. Second of course is the execution and actually creating it :)

STEP ONE: Cultivate an idea.

This step is usually something that is super easy or the most difficult. Either inspiration for a painting comes to me naturally, or I have to do a little digging online to start that spark. Pinterest and Instagram are usually my go to for finding that. Also, reading some of my art books and starting that little snowball of an idea can be useful.

Here are some of my favorite art books to read for some motivation/inspiration:

The Practice of Oil Painting and Drawing by Solomon J. Solomon

The Practice & Science of Drawing by Harold Speed

The Human Figure by John Vanderpoel

STEP TWO: Sketchbook time!

I tend to work best with a combination of words and images. Words generally include ramblings and just scribbles of ideas to jog my memory when I go to revisit them. This step is crucial as well.

STEP THREE: Photograph or find references

This is a difficult step as well. But luckily, I have a close friend who is always willing to model for me! My setup is not fancy or professional. I just use my iPhone under natural lighting. I went to the thrift store and found some shirts to use for her to change into. Vintage clothing online is very expensive, and I luckily found some nice options at my local shop.

I open them up on Photoshop Elements, and do some minimal tweaking. I resize the images to whatever size I want the painting to be, and then I drag it over to a new canvas which is sized 8.5x11. I then print each part out, and tape it together to make an image the same size as the painting. This is how I use sight-size to measure my drawings!


After all the work, I can now begin drawing. I am using Canson Mi-Tienes paper for this piece, as it is a charcoal drawing. I cut it out to be 11x14 inches, and set it up on my tabletop easel. Now I am ready to begin!

My tools:

  • Nitram HB charcoal

  • Natural hair fan brush to blend

  • rubber eraser

I hope this can be a source of reference and inspiration to those who are needing some guidance on how to begin planning for a painting or drawing!

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© 2020 Tina Figarelli