Live Painting – What It Is – Why I Love It + Tips for Starting Out

I absolutely love it and I bet you will too.

Live painting is great for getting your name into the world. People love seeing artists in their element. Also, it’s interesting to watch! Especially, if you do live painting that is totally free style. It’s so fun and you’ll never know what you will create. 

When I paint live in public, it is so helpful for me. I meet lots of people and I get immediate feedback from strangers about my work. Negative or positive, when I get feedback from strangers I learn a lot. It makes me feel like I might be a good artist if lots of strangers tell me they like my work. 

Now, how did I get interested in live painting?

As I was researching painting murals, I stumbled onto something called live painting. I never heard of live painting but it sounded perfect for me. Basically, live painting is painting in public. It can be freestyle art, something planned, or painting the scene where you are. The paintings are usually large scale.

Personally, freestyle live painting is my favorite. I would consider myself a freestyle artist. The majority of my work is not planned. Just pure in the moment creative expression. 

I immediately wanted to figure out how I could start painting live. 

First, I started painting at the park on big panels. I essentially was doing a test run of painting with the public eyes on me. 

Immediately, people were interested! Lots of strangers talked to me and wanted to know more about what I do. 

On the first day I did live painting, a woman paid me to do an onsite commission. It was such an affirming experience. 

I did live painting a few more times at the park and then at some beaches. They were such positive experiences. I have some time lapse videos of this somewhere on my instagram. 

After that, I made “Live Painting” an available service on my website and began searching for opportunities to paint live. I painted at Oliver’s Market in Santa Rosa a few times, then, I got an opportunity to paint live at a local dispensary called Doobie Nights, in Santa Rosa Ca. I am even going to paint there again on August 15th for their block party. 

I would highly recommend trying painting live in public for any visual artist. 

So, how do you become a live painter?

  1. Practice painting in public 
  2. Document and timelapse each piece you make to establish credibility for being a live painter
  3. Add it to the services page on your website (make that sh*&% official)[example in photo below]
  4. Create or find opportunities to paint live for events or in public 
    1. Places that host live music are great places to get a gig and be able to accept tips. If you live in Sonoma County, Oliver’s Markets are a great place to start. Send them a portfolio of your painting live and ask if you can paint there. They are super nice! 
    2. Look for local events and apply as a live painter, like a place would apply for a booth.
    3. Post an ad on craigslist and social media saying you are looking for live painting opportunities.
    4. Ask around, talk to strangers about your goal. People are wise. 


  • Prepare really well!
  • If you have to paint a specific image, prepare necessary things for that at home. 
  • Think creatively about what you need to do beforehand. 
  • Pack all of your paints and supplies the day before 
Live Painting @ Oliver’s Market Montecito

I always pack: 

  • acrylic paints 
  • brushes 
  • jar For water
  • water
  • paper towels
  • gloves
  • scissors
  • painters tape 
  • acrylic markers 
  • random pens pastels, or charcoal for fun 
  • random stuff that looks good from in my studio
  • easel 
  • small palette 
  • sometimes a mobile wall to display my work
  • stickers and business cards to hand out
  • some small artwork I can give away for free if anyone seems particularly interested in my work 
  • portable speaker (for playing chill beats)
  • phone battery pack and charger
  • pencils 
  • a bag with a bin in it
  • food
  • a sign (mine is a chalk board sign)
  • chair, for sitting sometimes and to hold some supplies 
  • plastic to protect the ground 
  • panels or canvases (the larger the better)
    • Thrift stores have good deals on old canvases. Gesso that b*&% up and get to painting. Or incorporate the art from the image like this piece I did below. 

The more you can prepare the easier it will be. 

What would you pack?

3 responses to “Live Painting – What It Is – Why I Love It + Tips for Starting Out”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: