Painting Process, Painting techniques, Acrylic paint, Erin Duncan Creative

plan the painting first!

How + Why

This week I’ve been working on the latest addition to my 100 Bad Paintings project.

I had a super productive painting session today and I want to share it with you because documenting what works is really useful. We can recreate these steps again in the future and have lots of excellent painting sessions!

Firstly, I did not begin with a blank canvas.

I had loosely layered different shades of green over the canvas a few days ago. Knowing that I was going to be painting a garden and wanting to mess up the page a little first.
It helps me to not be too precious!

Using a white charcoal pencil I sketched out a basic idea of my painting over the green.

The lady and the dog that I made earlier made me decide to create a garden to put them in!

Painting, Erin Duncan Creative


Choosing Colours

Often I just can’t wait to start painting so I pick up the brush and start choosing colours as I go. You know what though? It pays to take a little time to plan!

So this time I pull out my trusty box of swatch cards.
It’s a a bunch of colour cards which I hand make or collect from Bunnings.

They are so helpful, when I take the time to use them!

When I lay them out and visualise a few different colours and combinations against my canvas it makes all the difference:

🐞 I make stronger colour choices. 

🐞 Colours create unity in the painting.

🐞 I know where I’m heading with the piece. Which colours I’m starting with and will incorporate as I go on. 

In this instance I chose to use Buff and Pale Pink in the background which I probably wouldn’t have done without taking the time to test things out.

The result is that I am feeling great about the background. It’s really got me all jazzed up! 


Choosing Techniques

If I notice that I’m going too slowly it’s usually because I’m afraid to go forward in the painting. Afraid of making a mistake.
It’s because I haven’t tested out what I’m doing.

I desperately want to forge ahead with the painting but I will work a heck of a lot faster if I test things out first!

🐝 Spend a little extra time exploring the medium with chosen colours.

🐝 Get out my sketchbook or grab some scraps of watercolour paper and PLAY AROUND!

🐝 It’s basically making a map forward. It makes a huge difference to test how colours work together and techniques work/ build together.


Erin Duncan Creative, Painting, Acrylic, painting techniques


This whole process only takes about forty five minutes and I think it’s well worth the time. 

I mean, it’s totally not necessary to do any of this. You can just forge ahead bravely! I do all the time! But the exploration definitely brings a little something extra to your work.

It helps you to go beyond and draw more of your inspiration together cohesively.

It’s having a more considered practice.

Now I can move forward with this painting with much more confidence and speed. I know where I’m heading with it and I’m happy with my colour choices!

I send out fortnightly-ish emails with updates on my painting and writing. I’d love you to join me! You’ll also receive 10% off your first purchase fro my art shop. 

Picture of Erin Duncan

Erin Duncan

An Australian Artist and Illustrator currently living in Tasmania.
Everything I make is a way for me to share a little magic, wonder and possibility with the world.

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Custom illustration

Have you ever considered CUSTOM ILLUSTRATION? I make one of a kind artwork for clients. It could be