I use the highly skilled, post-modern, impressionistic technique of paint by number. LOL
Here's my process:
1) Find clip-art or a picture of what you want to paint (clean lines are usually easier to work with)
2) Put images onto computer and using a projector, project onto your painting surface (cardboard, paper, a wall)
3) Using a pencil, trace the projected image onto the painting surface (when finished, cover the projector bulb to make sure you didn't miss tracing anything)
4) Paint (For the pandas I used Tempera paint for the black, white, and mixed them for the gray. For any green and brown, I used acrylic craft paint that you can buy in the little bottles in craft stores.)
For large areas of color, I use wide foam brushes or a piece of sea sponge. If I want a multi-color look, I squirt 2 or 3 shades of the same color onto a dish and then dip my brush or sponge into each and apply them at the same time. For smaller areas of color, a smaller paintbrush/foam brush or piece of sponge work well.
When the main blocks of color are done, I go back and add any shading, following the clip-art as my guide (and basically faking it.) Then I add any outlining or definition with markers or a thin paint brush.
Most of my painting projects have been VBS props which don't require too much detail (and nor do I want them to take a lot of time.)
The few walls murals I've done, I spent a little more time trying to make my shading look more artistic. These pandas took about 4 hours total from tracing to final product. I hope it will get the kids excited about our week.
With the easy trace and paint method, you can make props, decor, or even attempt a mural. Dress up a party, make some holiday decorations, or create a fantastic kid space! If I can do it, anybody can!
Here are some previous pieces:
Our Baby Nursery Mural (2002)
Serengeti Trek VBS (African Safari Theme ~ 2005)
I used the props and mural for our kids' combined birthday party first and then gave them to the church to use.
Trading Spaces (Travel Theme ~ 2006)
Noah's Ark (Mural for Pre-school Room ~ 2006):
Avalanche Ranch (Western Mountain Ranch Theme ~ 2007)
For the backdrop, I bought 2 plastic backed drop cloths at Home Depot. Then I used watered down acrylic craft paint and a sea sponge to fill in the hills. It only took about 6 hours total for the whole thing. It's 6' tall by about 22' wide, I think.
Backdrops made by scrunching up a canvas dropcloth and spray painting it with black. Unfold, rescrunch, spray with dark brown. Unfold, rescrunch, spray with light brown. Unfold and let dry. Voila! Stone walls.
Outrigger Island (Hawaiian Surfing Theme ~ 2008)
No backdrop painting this year... just surfboards and a woody wagon of which I can't seem to find a picture. I used left-over wall paint from our house and various bottle of acrylic craft paint.
Linking up here.