Cindy Briggs


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How to Paint Cityscapes

How to Paint Cityscapes Window Cindy Briggs

How to Paint Cityscapes

Painting cityscapes while sitting in a park or enjoying a treat at a quaint cafe is something that I often do when traveling. That’s why in recent years, I have been inviting other watercolor artists to join me on tours so we can paint wonderful cityscapes together. These workshops are always enriching, give you a taste of the town from a different point of view, and create memorable experiences.  

How to Pick a Good Spot to Paint Cityscapes

First find something that inspires you. You don’t have to paint the whole town, you can choose to focus in on one theme. Once you’ve found your subject, look around and see if there is a comfortable, shady place for you to paint. It’s important to be in a spot out of the way of traffic, where you are safe and your valuables are secure. I often wear a vest with inner pockets to hold my phone and money.

Sometimes, I take photos of my scene so I can consider my composition and have it for reference to finish up back in my studio.  

Getting Started with Painting Cityscapes

Simplify the scene and draw with flowing lines using a pencil or permanent ink on your watercolor paper.  I usually start on the focal point and work my way out. Just go for it and trust your line work. Be sure to connect your shapes, too. Once you have enough lines to guide you, you are probably excited to start adding watercolor. Pause, look at your drawing, erase any unnecessary pencil lines and add more lines if you need them. 

I usually start painting the foliage, flowers, and people, then add the buildings around it.  This way you can create some sparkle around the “Living” parts of your painting. This sparkle is created by saving some of the white of the paper.  

I like to capture light and shadow on walls, steps, doors, umbrellas.  White walls can be especially fun when you add colorful cool plus a touch of warmth in the shadows (see my umbrella below).  My earth-tone walls often have colors like Raw Sienna, Naples Yellow, and Permanent Brown in them with added purples and blues in the shadows.  

A cityscape can be a window or a door, a passageway, main street, urban scenes, rooftops, a cafe…the possibilities are endless.  As a small-town girl, I tend to paint in villages versus large cities. I’d rather paint Park City, Venice, or Assisi over New York City any day.  

The key to painting is to follow your heart. Draw and paint what inspires you.  If you only have time for a quick sketch – go for it. If you have more time,  slow down and capture the details that are meaningful to you. Then fine-tune and finesse your work until you get the finished look that you want. 

Cindy’s Painting Workshops

If you would like to learn more about painting cityscapes with me on location, in the studio or online, I invite you to sign up for my newsletter for notices about my workshops. I take care of providing the locations so you can make the most of your experience. We’ll paint together, share tips and techniques, and paint the day away. It’s going to be a wonderful experience!


How to Paint Cityscapes Bagno Vignoni al Sole

Bagno Vignoni, Italy Watercolor by Cindy Briggs



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