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How to Paint Wildlife in Mixed Media

Susan is a retired nurse who has always loved art, music, and DIY crafting.

Mixed Media Painting: Animals

It's true, babies and animals make the cutest photos. My camera and phone are always full of pictures I've taken of my dogs, cats, or wildlife. No matter how often we go to the zoo, I always take more. Finding a photo I like of an animal is never hard for me—and turning that photo into a painting is also much easier than you might think.

A few months ago, we had a pair of baby raccoons in our muscadine bush. They were adorable, even if they did eat a ton of our muscadines. I knew I had to paint them! Watch my video, and you will know how they inspired me and how I started my painting.

Starting Your Canvas

The first step is to start your canvas. Use a ruler, and draw blocks on your canvas.

The first step is to start your canvas. Use a ruler, and draw blocks on your canvas.

Transferring Your Photo To Canvas

  1. Choose the size of canvas you wish to paint. My canvas was a standard 16 x 20 size.
  2. I started by making seven equal marks across the top of the canvas. These became seven vertical lines, resulting in eight columns. I drew the same columns on my smaller picture. You can make more or fewer columns, as you wish.
  3. Next, I made five equal marks down the side of the canvas. This became five horizontal lines, resulting in six rows. I marked my photo in the same way.
  4. Count the squares on the photo to the top and side of the head. Roughly draw the head shape on the same canvas squares. Do the same with the body, feet, tail, etc., and roughly draw on the canvas.
  5. Starting with the nose and eyes, draw a rough sketch of the raccoon's face.
  6. Next rough sketch more detail on the rest of the raccoon.
  7. Using the squares as guides, sketch the branches and, if you wish, a few leaves.
  8. Your canvas is now ready to paint.
My raccoon photo with transfer lines

My raccoon photo with transfer lines

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Starting to Paint

  1. I like to start by roughly painting the dark branches and dark areas on my animal. Let the paint dry completely.
  2. Next, I like to paint the main background color. For this painting, I roughly painted shades of green and yellow. Let this paint dry.
  3. Then I concentrated on painting the raccoon. By looking at small areas within the squares, it is easier to get details. Sometimes it helps to turn the painting and photo upside down.
  4. Lastly, tidy up your leaves and branches. They do not have to be exact to the photo.

Have Fun With Mixed Media!

I started my painting with acrylics. Then I added some pastels. You can also add tissue paper leaves if you wish. I enjoy the untraditional mix of acrylic, oil pastels, and torn paper. I think it gives the painting depth.

Finished Painting

This is the finished painting.

This is the finished painting.