Sort of.

comments: 161

So, you know how when yesterday I said that I did the face and completely ruined the painting and then you said no, Alicia, you're just being hard on yourself and I bet it isn't that bad and how bad could it be, and I was like no, really, it's really really really not good you guys

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ArdenPainting3

people, I tried to tell you.

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It did not go well.

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Things I Didn't Realize About Painting:

  1. Acrylic paints dry darker than how they appear on the palette.
  2. Mixing each shade from scratch using white, red, yellow, blue, green, black, and Burnt Sienna is HARD when it comes to skin tones (because each shade you mix dries out before you can use it as the base for the next tone).
  3. Starting with the darkest color and working in was a bad idea.
  4. Especially if the darkest color was maroonish-gray.

After I let out a horrified scream that deafened the dog and caused every cat in the house to jump three feet straight up into the air, I took the painting and went down the street to my favorite little art supply store, Muse. After we all stopped giggling uncomfortably at how scary my painting was, the guys there were SO nice to give me a crash course in Portrait Painting 101 stuff and told me important things like there is a warm side of the face and a cool side (obviously depending on the where the light is falling).

OH.

I wound up buying a tube of paint that was called Toning Pinkish Gray or Toning Grayish Pink — basically, a very pale skin tone, and then I mixed everything using that and a little Burnt Siena for the warm a little Ultramarine for the cool. Then I turned the painting upside down, like you guys said, so that I was just looking at shapes of colors and not someone-I-love's face (which I desperately wanted to get "right," etc.).

So this was the second try:

Arden-Painting4

Better. Humanish. I was extremely relieved!!! I called my friend and told her. I don't know what it is about painting that makes me want to talk on the phone. Add that to the list of things I did not know about painting!

I set it about ten feet away from me and looked at it. Even at viewing distance, there was still a little too much contrast. I felt confident, though. I felt like I could do it without freaking. I felt like I wouldn't have to start completely over, I could just tweak. So I replaced one color — I think it was the second lightest — with one that was both a little darker and a little warmer and came up with:

ArdenPainting4

What do you think? Stand back from it a bit and see.

I still have to do the daisy, and the magenta, and the t-shirt. But I think this is sort of going in the right direction now, don't you?

161 comments

That turned out so great! :) And you can tell that you love her.

There's also a "extender" you can add to acrylic paint so that it doesn't dry so quickly-- you can add it to the paint and stir or you can mix a little with water in a spray bottle and spritz your palette occasionally. Cuts some of the frustrating re-mixing and waste.

oh no...you've just started an obsession in austin now...i love it!! i think they all are masterpieces to be honest..:)

Jake Gariepy says: October 28, 2009 at 02:37 PM

Painting is scary. What looks so easy is, in fact, terribly difficult. I actually sort of liked your first attempt. The contrast was pretty cool. Your "improved" version is even better. Yes, it's more human, but I'm impressed that you were able to get the likeness so well. I have a huge problem with that, whether drawing or painting. Even worse, when I DO get it right, I might not be able to recreate my success!

One more thing - I LOVE the background! That's fabulous.

I love your blog. It's so inspiring. My wife and I seem to have so much in common with you and your husband. So glad we found you!

I love this; don't paint but love seeing the process.

You did a great job! Really, you did a great job! Congratulate your self.

Okay just stumbled onto your blog and love it. I think you did a fantastic job. Very cool! So glad I found you...now I'm off to read more:)

The painting is awesome. I've had a strong desire to be able to paint quilts and have them look really cool but I really don't possess much painting talent, so I think I've given up.

Love it................follow you from Kamloops, B.C., Canada. Lightening the face makes it work so much better.

I love the way you used the quilt designs as a background for the picture. I love the many designs and colors. A beautiful and clever composition.

Gerda Roche says: February 29, 2016 at 10:25 PM

Love the painting ... pinned it on my board on pinterest. Love the rendition of the Kaffe Fassett fabric ...

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About Alicia Paulson

About

My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at aliciapaulson.com

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Photography

Since August of 2011 I've been using a Canon EOS 60D with an EF 18-200mm kit lens and an EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro lens.