Step-by-step oil painting from a stunning photograph

Today I’m sharing this step-by-step guide, showing how this beautiful oil painting was constructed from a remarkable photo.

The client requested a recreation of this lovely photo, they wanted an extra special birthday gift for a friend and knew that this image of her daughter in a meadow of grasses and flowers would be perfect.

Reference photo for oil painting
Image © by owner

Creating a piece of art for someone else is always quite nerve-wracking and it took me a little while to be brave enough to start.

This step-by-step guide will show you how the oil painting was created from a reference photo.

Step 1


To begin, I chose a square canvas and planned the area of the photograph I was reproducing, with the little girl as the obvious centrepiece.

I did a light sketch to outline the little girl.

Step-by-step art sketch
Step-by-step sketch – Image © ArtsItAllAbout

Step 2

Acrylic versus oil painting:

I chose oil paints as I knew I’d get a better depth of colour for the meadow but it takes a long time for the heavy backgrounds to dry and I am not very patient at all!

To give the background lots of impact without an excessive drying time I used the striking Arteza craft acrylic paints.

Acrylic paint background dries quicker
Acrylic background for faster drying time – Image © ArtsItAllAbout

Step 3

Layering oil paint bit-by-bit:

When the background had dried, I added more layers using oil paints and a pallet knife to form the strong lines.

Using oil paint to add detail
Oil painting details – Image © ArtsItAllAbout

Step 4

Adding texture:

By introducing lighter colours and using brushes with different textures to create the detail of the various grasses, I continuing to build up layers of oil paint. Adding the skin colour was quite difficult but fortunately there was only a small amount to worry about.

Oil paint was perfect for the hair detail as I could gradually add definition and shade.

Oil painting hair gives greater detail
Different brushed gave different textures – Image © ArtsItAllAbout

Step 5


Before adding colour for the flowers, I waited 24 hours for the oils to dry very slightly.

More detail added step-by-step
Oil painting hair and details – Image © ArtsItAllAbout

Step 6

Tricky bits and self-criticism:

It was then time to tackle the intricate detail of the checked dress. It feels like a pivotal part of the photograph and I was keen to keep it in the painting to show the contrast of the material against nature.

I am not entirely happy with the dress, but overall the effect does look like fabric, if I were to attempt something like this again, I would take more time to get the accuracy of the checks correct.


The painting is now in the hands of its new owner, I was nervous and excited to find out what they thought, I asked the buyer if she liked it and she said: “Yes, she loves it, she cried!”

I couldn’t be happier and I hope the family enjoy displaying it as much as I did painting it…

… and here it is!

Completed oil painting shown step-by-step
Finished step-by-step oil painting from photo – Image © ArtsItAllAbout

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