How To

How to Paint Like Lowry

Ever wondered how L.S. Lowry made his artwork? Join artist Kathryn Edwards to learn about perspective, form and colour

Be Inspired

L.S. Lowry, ‘Dwelling, Ordsall Lane, Salford’ 1927
L.S. Lowry
Dwelling, Ordsall Lane, Salford 1927
Tate
© The estate of L.S. Lowry
L.S. Lowry, ‘The Pond’ 1950
L.S. Lowry
The Pond 1950
Tate
© The estate of L.S. Lowry/DACS 2018
L.S. Lowry, ‘Coming Out of School’ 1927
L.S. Lowry
Coming Out of School 1927
Tate
© The estate of L.S. Lowry
L.S. Lowry, ‘Industrial Landscape’ 1955
L.S. Lowry
Industrial Landscape 1955
Tate
© The estate of L.S. Lowry

Ready to paint a Lowry-inspired artwork?

Things you'll need

  • Paints (Lowry used 5 oil paints to produce his work: ivory black, vermillion, Prussian blue, yellow ochre and flake white. However, in the film above we use acrylics. The colours are: ultramarine blue, titanium white, cadmium red hue, yellow ochre and process black)
  • Medium gel
  • White gesso
  • Cotton calico
  • Palette or bowl
  • Canvas frame
  • Staple gun
  • Staples
  • Pencil
  • Paint brushes (large and small brushes)
  • Board
  • Palette knife
  • Stick

Step 1: Prepare the canvas

You can buy a pre-made canvas or make your own. To make your own start by preparing the cotton calico. Cut it two inches bigger than the canvas frame. It may help to draw around the frame to give you a rough idea of size.

Step 2: Apply the gesso

Next paint the gesso onto the cotton calico using a large brush and then directly rub the paint into the fabric using your fingers in a circular motion. Apply two layers of the gesso and wait to dry before stretching the canvas around the frame.

Lowry tacked nails down the sides of the canvas when stretching and fixing it. For ease, use a staple gun as it’s neater and more time efficient.

Step 3: Draw the outline

Draw out a rough outline of the image you wish to paint for angles and perspective. To pick out details in the image use a tablet with a stored selection of photographs or print your image. It’s good to always refer to a photograph for general outlines and form.

Step 4: Start painting

Lowry would’ve mainly used oil paints to create his paintings. Interestingly, he worked with just five colours: ivory black, vermillion, Prussian blue, yellow ochre and flake white. If you are new to painting working in acrylics is easier. Use a gel medium to add texture. It also allows for a speedier drying time. Mix a base colour for the building in the foreground. Add layers as it dries. Like Lowry, use your fingers or scratch into the surface to create form and texture.

Step 5: Add other structures

Then build up the other structures, signposts, streetlights or other buildings. As you add texture, use white and grey to block off the areas of the painting and to create a rougher surface.

Step 6: Matchstick people

The figures are the last addition to the painting. Be inspired by the Lowry ‘match stick men’. Notice that the ‘matchstick men' in Lowry’s artwork might be simple, but they aren’t all the same. Use a stick to draw the smaller shapes and paint the larger forms using a brush.

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