How do artists start a painting?

Blank canvas worries can often stop us before we even start! There are lots of ways to start a painting, everyone is different and unique in what inspires them. I often start my still life’s from making different arrangements of objects and setting up a small table in my studio. Sometimes I leave it for a view days adjusting it each time I go in until it feels right.

I then think a bit about what the focus of the paintings is going to be, however this can often change as I paint. It could be the colour blue or a jug, cup or a view out the window.

I usually work in oils so after preparing a board with gesso I sketch directly on to the board in pencil. My drawing goes through lots of changes but I find working on the full size board allows me to really think about the space and position of objects. I often change the size or spacing of objects as I draw to make the composition and design work. It doesn’t really matter as only you know what you are looking at!

I draw with lots of light lines, settling on a line after positioning all the objects. It can look rather messy but I like the effect of fuzzy lines. The next stage is the bridging which I use an inky mix of medium and oil in a ultramarine blue or burnt umber and again I use a variety of light and bolder lines to create a structure to work with.

Bridging example by Jude Askey-Brown

I usually leave this overnight or at least for a few days before I start the colour beginning just so I can think a bit more about how I will arrange the form, tone and colour.

How do you start a painting?