Copy Famous Paintings – Vincent van Gogh


What is it?

The Starry Night“, 1889 by Vincent Van Gogh

How was this painting done?

Van Gogh uses a low eye level as a compositional device to display one of the most dramatic skies in the history of painting. The low eye level divides this painting into two symbolic areas:

The Heavenly Sky – the large area above the eye level creates the space that is needed to display the convulsive power of a starlit heaven.  Van Gogh does this by surrounding the night stars in an orb of light.

The Humble Town – the small area below the eye level compresses the town into a respectful position at the bottom of the picture.  The houses in the distance are lit up in a warm glow of artificial light.

Why Should We Care?

Vincent van Gogh lived more than 115 years ago, and yet his everlasting artwork is still influencing the way we view beauty, persona, individuality, and style in art. Van Gogh found the sacred in the common and his unique life has inspired millions to become active in art. Artists continue to copy the style Van Gogh created over one hundred years ago.

Where can I find more paintings like it?

Similarities can be seen in the work of Claude Monet, especially “Impression, Sunrise“, 1872 and Henri Matisse’s Luxe, Calme et Volupté, 1904.

Meditate, relax and enjoy

There can be no mistakes in making this painting.  Everything ends up as it should be.  Take the luxury of “time out” to recreate this fabulous painting in acrylics yourself, here’s how:

You will need

  • a small canvas, 30cm x 40cm is a good size
  • tubes of primary acrylic colours, blue, red and yellow plus white
  • a dark watercolour crayon
  • soft nylon paint brushes, (small, medium and a little larger)
  • water in an old container
  • a rag or disposable cloth
  • two or three hours

Tips on the Process

  • prime the canvas first, otherwise, just a wash and dry with a towel
  • print the photo you want to work from, measure and cut into quarters to make your drawing in a grid
  • turn the original photo upside down to make the drawing
  • use a dark coloured water colour crayon for your drawing
  • correct drawing right-side up from the original
  • erase crayon easily with a damp cloth
  • it is okay for the watercolour crayon mark to bleed into the painting
  • everything is easily painted over with acrylics
  • paint in the background first
  • The painting will not look great at the initial blocking in stage, stay with it for a pleasant surprise
  • try not to use paint directly from the tube; experiment with how to mix colours
  • acrylics dry darker than the mixed colour

The Drawing Process

Turn your photo upside down and draw the space around the drawing first.  This is just a framework to place the figure on the page and you can easily correct right-side up with the dampened cloth as I have done below.

Otherwise, you may use my drawing below.  I suggest you ask your copy shop to print the PDF below onto a canvas and proceed to make your own unique painting.  Otherwise, you can print the copy on to good quality paper, paint the picture and frame it.  It’s your painting after all!

2910 2016 003.JPG


I made a post after Vincent van Gogh on this site some years ago and it is also suitable for beginners.

Image accessed 29/10/2016