How to Paint a Lighthouse Tutorial – Acrylic Painting for Beginners

Painting your own canvas from home or with a group of friends or students has become a trendy hobby and a great way to practice art therapy.

Many people pay to take canvas painting classes and find it very relaxing.

Once you’ve made a few, it’s not hard at all to do on your own unless you’re looking for the social side of the class.


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I’ll give you step-by-step instructions on how to paint your own lighthouse along with a list of materials needed. Don’t feel like you have to follow them closely if you feel like doing something else.

The idea is to help you, but also to encourage your creative side. So if you have an idea and want to do something your way, don’t be afraid to try!


The beauty of using acrylics is that if you mess up and don’t want to work on it anymore, you can mostly paint directly over something with a few exceptions.

It dries quickly and you can do a complete paint job in no time if that’s how you want to work.

So when choosing your headlamp, first decide on the color of the headlamp and whether you want a day or night sky.

Also, get some accent colors for the headlights and you’re good to go.


how to paint a lighthouse

What will you need:

  • Plastic tablecloth or cloth to protect the area below you
  • pallet or paper plate
  • Cup with water and paper towels
  • Colors in shades of blue, teal and aquamarine, white, red, black, grey, brown, yellow or whatever else you need maybe a different yellow for sun or moon or green if you want some grass
  • Brushes come in a few sizes, from tiny for detail to around 1 inch, some of which you really prefer, but it’s nice to have a couple of long thin types for outlines, and at least one smaller one with a nice flat edge, to draw straight lines.
  • pencil and eraser
  • Ruler
  • Easel if you want to use one


Step by step instructions

The first step is to pencil in the lighthouse, waves and rocks or whatever you want to put around the bottom.


You can erase on the canvas as long as you do it gently and without too much pressure, just be sure to remove the shavings from the eraser so they don’t get painted over later.

First, use a ruler to draw the side lines of the lighthouse.

Leave room for the top of the lighthouse and some sky above.

Also leave room below for rocks and waves. It should take up about 2/3 of the height of the canvas.


I advise you to look at some headlight photos online to choose the best style for your headlight.

Most are similar, but some have more ornate things like iron. You have to choose how you want it.

Don’t worry too much about drawing in great detail here, as you will be painting over it most of the time. You can paint the small parts of it later with a small brush.

If you are going to make a stripe pattern on the lighthouse, use the ruler to draw the stripes now too.

Draw an area for the light; It should be in the shape of a rectangle, with a circle in the center for the light.

Now draw some rocks or a cliff or a patch of grass, even if it’s just a simple mountain line going under the lighthouse.

This is where you need to get creative and choose how you want it to look. If you like the swatch style here, you need to draw some rocks first so they’re jagged and not perfectly smooth, and then some waves.

I wanted mine to be wild type, breaking waves, not flat water, but you get to choose what you want to do.

Once you’ve drawn the main outline of your water or grass, you’re good to go.

It’s time to paint!

First paint your background. I recommend shaking the paints well before pouring and not over pouring, but for the background you will need at least 3 or 4 palette sized paint cups.

If you use a darker blue it will most likely require 2 full coats.

Start with a long, thin brush and outline before painting with a larger brush.


This keeps you focused on the area you need to be in and prevents you from accidentally walking into the spotlight with the paint.

To start, wet your brush and dry it with a paper towel, then dip it in the paint. This will help loosen up the brush and allow the paint to flow. You should only use the water when taking out a new brush for use or rinsing the brushes.

The water spoils the finish of the paint, making it transparent and runny.

Outline everything around the lighthouse, along with the rocks and waves, with the background color of your choice.


For mine I also added a line between the rocks and waves to the bottom of the canvas.

Once you’ve done that, paint in the background with your big brush.


Make sure you also brush along the outside edges, top and sides and bottom if there is an area where it’s showing.

While the first coat of color sits in for a few minutes, rinse the brush well and proceed with the accent color.

If you are going to make a stripe on the lighthouse, choose one of the colors for the stripes and paint it. One thing to note: if one of your stripes is black and you’re adding iron balconies or anything to it, make sure you don’t start the headlight stripes with black so the iron parts will show.

Mine is red and black so I made a little red section there to even out that part, then I made the stripes thicker by alternating red and black.


This paint color can also require two coats, so if you want to alternate between the spotlight and the background, it works well.


Add another layer to your background and then go back to the lighthouse.


The next step is to start with rocks, water or grass depending on what you choose.

I first painted my rock on which the lighthouse stands a gray so that when I paint the waves the waves overlap the rock.


This is also a good time to add a little gray where there is light to give it time to dry before you do the rest.

I then started with a lighter blue color and painted with waves and water in all areas.

I used the dark blue line color I painted earlier to give the lines of the second wave a shadowed look and to break up the waves so they don’t look like one big area of ​​blue. You need dimension and movement.

The best way to achieve this is using some shades of blue and a little bit of white.

Go to the light and paint light yellow in the middle of that area.


Once you have a good layer of the main watercolor (light blue in my case) you can take a smaller brush and add a few lines on each wave, following the shape of the wave to give it movement.


This is also a good time to let the paint dry on the water if needed and return to the lighthouse.


At this point, start painting the lighthouse in the other colors, including the different stripe color and the roof. If the first color needs touching up, do that too.


The background color, the lighthouse and the water or rocks should be almost dry.

If you can see a spider web through the paint on these, touch them up now so you have a nice solid color all over.

You should now be ready to add finishing details.

For the waves, add lighter or contrasting shades of blue with a small brush; You can add lines in the water if you haven’t made waves by just making thin wavy lines here and there, and over the waves you can add a frothy wave look at the end of the waves with white paint, more blue or white on the waves, If you want


On the rocks, use a brown (I mixed a bit of white into my brown so it’s not so dark and harsh) and take a small brush to add contrast and shadows on the rocks.


Small wavy lines and a few dots give it a textured look. At the lighthouse, use the small brush to paint the iron railings and details.

I made a zig zag pattern for my railings and also added small black lines on one side of the lighthouse to show some shadow and make it stand out.

If your sky is darker than mine, take the small brush and add some yellow lines pointing down to show the light showing through if you want and also paint a small window/clip part in the middle – towards below the lighthouse in a small rectangular shape.

You can also shade it black if you like by painting the bottom and one side black or gray.

If you want to add birds in the sky or paint a sun or moon, this is the last step. The birds are made with a small V-shaped brush, with pointed tips in the “V”. Keep them small and they’re easier to paint.


Finally, go through the entire painting to see if you want to touch up and take care of it, then add your signature!

Leave to dry well.


Good painting!




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