My fiance and I recently went on a romantic trip to Europe, and Paris was our first stop. I loved Paris. I loved the culture, I loved the history, and most of all I loved the views.
The most important view on our trip was of course the Eiffel Tower. It’s kind of hard to miss. We saw it from along the seine, and from the Arc de Triomphe. I was sure to pick an Air BNB that was as close as possible to the beloved tower, so every night we could keep it in our view as we walked home.
The Eiffel Tower was magical. It looked almost unreal in the sky. And at night time it sparkles! We did not know that going to Paris, and were so shocked that we made sure to witness the sparkling every night that we were there.
Anyway, enough about my love for Paris, and onto the topic of this blog post!
I was inspired by my trip to create a painting that expressed the colourful nature of City of Lights, and this is what I came up with!
It’s a Van Gogh style piece (I’ve always loved Starry Night). Honestly I’ve been considering making a Van Gogh piece for a few years now. Originally I was going to make a Hogwarts interpretation of Starry Night (I may still do that at some point) but I am very happy with this adaptation of Paris.
An important note before you start on a painting like this: let it dry between adding new colours. You don’t want the strokes to blend together. Instead you will want distinct strokes that add a lovely vibrancy of colour to the artwork.
Step 1: The Sky
The sky is perhaps the most well know feature of Van Gogh’s Starry Night. I wanted to make sure that I did it justice in this piece, as it is the key to having my Paris scene perceived as a ‘Van Gogh style’ artwork.
I began by painting the top a nice dark blackish-blue. I knew that I would be painting over most of this, but it was important to have a solid base for the colours that would be going on top.
On top of this very dark blue I began painting some circles, which would develop into stars. I wanted one bright star in the top left corner, and other stars across the top of the canvas. Working with an ultramarine blue I marked areas on the canvas for my stars to go. I allowed the colour to become less vibrant as I move the brush away from the centre of the star, always moving in a circular pattern. I didn’t want my painting to have a calculated look about it, I wanted the sky to flow. So I merged some of the stars together, or at least merged their ultramarine outlines together, as you can see in the picture below.
Moving onto a lighter colour of blue, I grabbed an aqua and working inside the circles, began to make them more defined. I filled in all gaps, and worked on top of the ultramarine to give a consistent look. Ensure the ultramarine paint has dried completely here, so the lighter blue does not blend in!
I then moved on to an even lighter blue and did the same thing, creating a circle with a smaller radius inside each larger circle. Have some fun here, play with the colours and the strokes until the circles are just to your taste. Remember that the strokes are supposed to be distinct, so don’t be afraid to be bold!
Once that had dried, I added some yellow dabs to the very centre of the stars. I worked the yellow paint in small circular strokes out into the blue, achieving a consistent look across each star.
Once happy with the stars, the true playtime begins. I grabbed all of my warm coloured paints, all of those beautiful reds, yellows, oranges, and purples. I even managed to get some pink in there. I sat down with my canvas and my paints and I played. I began with a blue to soften the change from blackish-blue to warmer colours. I then had purple flow into pink, which flowed into red and orange, and there was some yellow in there too. The bottom of the sky has a wide array of shades and colours in it, which makes it look so unique!
Step 2: The Tower
I then painted the silhouette of the Eiffel Tower, along with the surrounding ground. I dabbed green paint on top of the black for the grass. It adds a hint of colour to the black, adding a bit of dimension.
For the Eiffel Tower I pulled up a couple of pictures online and used them as a guide for the outline. Remember you can always make the outline bigger, but you cannot make it smaller. I therefore worked slowly and grew the tower from the inside out.
Next I played with my yellows, oranges, and whites to make the tower glow. Here it is much easier to cover mistakes, because the background is black. I certainly made a couple of mistakes, which were very easily covered up with black paint.
Step 3: The Seine River
I then painted the bottom of the canvas black. This will turn into the Seine river. Once dried, I used a blueish white to sketch where the walkway and the bridge would be.
I then proceeded to redo the walkway (I didn’t like it being the same colour as the bridge, so I made it purple). Adding lights along the top is a little finishing touch that I think adds a pop of colour to that section of the canvas.
The water was a lot more work for me than it looks. I first attempted to put dots of paint and use an old credit card to scrape the paint down. You may have seen this tip on Pinterest, that’s where I saw it. However most of the paint was scraped right off the canvas, leaving behind two odd lines where the edges of the paint had been.
The technique that I ended up using was I painted vertical lines of colour across the river. I then used black to erase the tops and bottoms of the lines to give the appearance of light bouncing off the surface.
So there you go! That’s my Van Gogh style painting of the Eiffel Tower. It fits well in my living room with this candy-filled Eiffel Tower that I brought back from Paris. Hmm… we haven’t touched those candies yet… will have to open that soon.
I hope you enjoyed, let me know what you think in the comments below! Have you ever tried to make a Van Gogh style artwork?