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How to: paint with words like Patrick Moses

Published 14 December 2021

Try making a painting inspired by words like Summer Exhibition 2021 artist Patrick Moses.

  • Video

    We invited ActionSpace artist Patrick Moses to the RA’s Clore Learning Centre so he could show us how he makes his paintings.

    Patrick is a mixed-media artist whose paintings use words, sounds, and colour. He collects words in his sketchbook and anything from a shop sign to a line in a song might inspire him.

    When he paints, he uses a brush and his hands to create a textured, coloured base for his chosen words. He often uses card strong enough for a lot of paint but his Summer Exhibition painting he uses fabric and ink that bleeds across the surface.

    In the final part of his process, he arranges the words like shapes on the painting surface, using different sizes and colours to write. The finished piece is bold and graphic and expresses how Patrick sees the world.

    His painting ‘POPTARTS’ is on display in the RA’s Summer Exhibition.


    • What you need

      • Coloured pens

      • Sketchbook

      • A painting surface

      • Paint

      • Paint brushes

      • A palette

      • Water

      • A sponge

      • Scissors

      2021FHT_patrick-moses-materials
    • Paint like Patrick Moses - Sketchbooks

      Step 1: Find some words

      Before Patrick starts painting, he listens and looks for words all around him. Whether he is on the bus, in the library, or listening to the radio he is always searching for words that stand out. He collects these words in sketchbooks so that he can use them in his paintings later.

      Write down some words you’ve read or heard recently. They might have a special meaning to you, they might be fun to say, or they might be a word you’ve just learnt.

    • How to paint like patrick moses - painting

      Step 2: Paint!

      When he’s ready to paint, Patrick chooses his painting surface—paper, card, or fabric—and the colours he’d like to use. When he paints he sometimes uses a paintbrush and sometimes he uses his hands, moving them in circles over the surface.

      Choose your painting surface and colours and paint! Will you paint with a brush or try using your hands?

    • How to paint like Patrick Moses - Drying

      Step 3: Dry your painting

      Quite often, the paint in Patrick’s paintings is very thick and textured so it takes a long time to dry—sometimes days!

      Find somewhere for the painting to dry. It might take a while! Meanwhile, clean up your area.

    • How to paint like Patrick Moses - Drawing

      Step 4: Choose your pens

      Once the painting is dry, Patrick looks through his sketchbooks and chooses which words to use in his painting. Then, using a coloured or metallic pen, he writes them all over the surface of his painting.

      When your painting is dry, choose your words and decide which pens you want to use then pick your pen and write, as big as you like!

    • How to paint like Patrick Moses - Drying

      Step 5: Change the shape

      Once he is happy that all the right words are in the painting, Patrick sometimes changes its shape. If he wants to, he cuts the painting so that its edges are not completely square.

      Do you want to change the shape of your painting?

    • How to Paint Like Patrick Moses - Showing

      Step 6: Admire your work!

      If you visit the Summer Exhibition, see if you can find Patrick’s painting.

      Whatever you do, share your creations with us @royalacademyarts on Instagram and @royalacademy on Twitter using the hashtag #FamilyHowTo!

    • Family studio: call the shots

      Families at the RA

      From artist-led workshops to family labels, and at-home art activities, we have a lot on offer for families – and kids under 16 go free to all RA exhibitions.

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