5 Practical Monochromatic Painting Ideas for Beginners
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 6 min read


  1. Paint a Sunset
  2. Create a Misty Morning Landscape
  3. Capture the Moonlight
  4. Design a Monochromatic Portrait
  5. Explore a Still Life Composition

Stepping into the world of art can feel a bit overwhelming, can't it? Especially when you're just starting out. But don't fret! One of the best ways to get your feet wet is by exploring monochromatic painting ideas. Monochromatic art, which uses various shades of a single color, can be an excellent place to start your painting journey. You don't have to juggle multiple colors, yet you can create a vast array of effects and moods. In this blog, we'll explore five practical monochromatic painting ideas that are perfect for beginners—starting with a sunset.

Paint a Sunset

Let's kick off our monochromatic painting journey with something we all love—a beautiful sunset. While sunsets are typically synonymous with a riot of colors, painting a monochromatic sunset is a great way to capture its essence in a unique and calming way.

Choosing Your Color

The first step in your sunset painting is to choose your color. Remember, we're going for monochromatic, which means you'll be using different shades of this color. You could opt for warm hues like red or orange—these are classic sunset colors. But hey, it's your sunset! Feel free to get creative and use blues or purples too.

Creating Your Gradient

Once you've chosen your color, it's time to create your gradient. This is where the magic of monochromatic painting comes to life. Start with the darkest shade of your chosen color at the top of your canvas. Gradually lighten the shade as you move towards the horizon. Remember, sunsets are all about smooth transitions—you want your colors to blend seamlessly.

Adding Details

Now that you have your gradient, let's add some details. Think about the silhouette of a tree line against the setting sun, or perhaps the outline of a city skyline. The key here is to use a darker shade of your chosen color for these details. This contrast will bring depth to your painting and make your sunset pop.

And voila! You've just created your first monochromatic sunset painting. Not only is this one of the simpler monochromatic painting ideas to start with, but it also sets a solid foundation for the other ideas we'll be exploring. Happy painting!

Create a Misty Morning Landscape

Now that you've mastered the art of the monochromatic sunset, let's move on to our next adventure—painting a misty morning landscape. The beauty of a misty morning is that it naturally lends itself to a monochromatic palette, making it one of the ideal monochromatic painting ideas for beginners.

Setting the Scene

To begin, you'll want to envision your landscape. Are you drawn to the tranquility of a forest shrouded in mist, or does a misty seascape call to you? Once you've chosen your setting, select your color. Cool colors like blues and greens work wonderfully for this type of painting, but feel free to pick whatever color speaks to you.

Building Your Background

Start with a lighter shade of your chosen color to create the background. Remember, we're looking to capture the softness of a misty morning, so keep your brush strokes gentle and blended. You can add a touch of white to your color to achieve the perfect misty effect.

Adding Depth with Details

Now comes the fun part—adding depth to your painting. Use a slightly darker shade of your color to paint the elements of your landscape, such as trees, mountains, or waves. This contrast will give your painting a sense of depth and realism, making your landscape come alive.

There you have it—you've just painted a misty morning landscape! Not only have you added another monochromatic painting to your portfolio, but you've also explored the use of light and shade in creating depth and atmosphere. Keep up the good work!

Capture the Moonlight

Having painted the subtle hues of a misty morning, it's time to shift our attention to the dramatic contrasts of moonlit scenery. Enchanting and mysterious, moonlit landscapes are excellent monochromatic painting ideas to explore.

Choosing Your Scene

First things first, decide on the scene you'd like to paint. Will it be a serene lake reflecting the moonlight, a peaceful town under the moon’s glow, or a desert bathed in lunar brilliance? The choice is yours!

Embracing the Darkness

Unlike our previous painting, a moonlit scene calls for darker shades. Select a color that you find appealing—deep blues, purples, or even blacks are great choices. Remember, we're trying to emulate the darkness of night whilst keeping the beauty of the moonlight intact.

Painting the Moonlight

Now, let's paint that beautiful moonlight. Start by painting the moon using a lighter shade or white. To create the glow, use a dry brush to softly blend outward from the moon. This technique helps create a realistic moonlit glow that will be the focal point of your painting.

Adding the Landscape

With the moonlight in place, it's time to add in the landscape. Using varying shades of your chosen color, paint your landscape elements. Remember, objects closer to the viewer should be darker and more detailed, while those farther away should be lighter and less distinct. This will give your painting the depth it needs.

And there you have it—your very own moonlight masterpiece! This exercise should have helped you explore the power of contrast in monochromatic painting ideas. Keep practicing and who knows, you might just be the next Rembrandt of moonlit landscapes!

Design a Monochromatic Portrait

Shifting our focus from landscapes to people, let's delve into the realm of monochromatic portraits. Portraits are a fantastic way to experiment with monochromatic painting ideas, helping you understand facial features, light, and shadows in a whole new way.

Selecting a Subject

First, you need to choose a subject for your portrait. It can be a friend, a family member, or even a self-portrait! The subject doesn't have to be perfect—remember, it's the imperfections that often make the most interesting portraits.

Choosing a Color Palette

Next, decide on the color palette for your portrait. Grays, browns, and blues are popular choices for monochromatic portraits, but don't let that limit you. Feel free to experiment with other colors like green or purple to give your portrait a unique twist.

Sketching the Outline

Before diving into painting, sketch a rough outline of your subject's face. Start with basic shapes and lines to capture the proportions and layout of the face. This will be your guide as you start to add color and detail.

Adding Shadows and Highlights

Now comes the fun part: adding shadows and highlights. Use your chosen color in different shades to achieve this. Darker shades represent shadows and lighter shades highlight areas where light hits. This contrast is what will give your portrait its depth and realism.

And voila! You've just created a monochromatic portrait. This project not only helps you gain a better understanding of light and shadow, but also adds a new dimension to your repertoire of monochromatic painting ideas. Happy painting!

Explore a Still Life Composition

Still life compositions are a staple in the art world and a fantastic way to experiment with monochromatic painting ideas. They offer a controlled environment where you can focus solely on the interplay of light, shadow, and your chosen color. So, are you ready to get started?

Choosing Your Objects

First things first, you need to select the objects for your still life composition. These can be anything from a bowl of fruit to a collection of books. Just make sure they're objects that interest you. After all, you'll be spending quite a bit of time studying them!

Arranging Your Composition

Once you have your objects, it's time to arrange them. Feel free to play around with different arrangements until you find one that captures your interest. Remember, the goal isn't to create a perfect setup but rather one that provides interesting shapes, shadows, and lines.

Deciding on a Monochromatic Palette

Next, you need to decide on your color palette. Any color can work for a monochromatic still life painting. The key is to have a range of shades, from very light to very dark. This will allow you to create depth and realism in your painting.

Painting Your Composition

Now comes the exciting part: painting your composition. Start by sketching a rough outline of your arrangement. Then, begin to fill in the shapes with your chosen color, paying careful attention to where the light and shadows fall. This is where your painting will really start to come alive!

Still life compositions offer a fun and controlled way to explore monochromatic painting ideas. They allow you to hone in on your observation skills and understand how light interacts with different objects. So, why not give it a try?

If you're eager to explore more monochromatic painting ideas and techniques, check out Ginevra Grigolo's workshop, 'Paint With Me From Grayscale to Colours.' In this workshop, Ginevra will guide you through the process of creating beautiful monochromatic paintings, starting with grayscale and gradually introducing colors. Perfect for beginners looking to develop their skills and gain confidence in their artistic abilities.