Barbara Makes a Wish

The final painting

The final painting

After painting my grandfather, I wanted to create a portrait of my grandmother in a similar vein. I found a photo Alan took at her birthday party in 2012 with a neat layout and a great expression. The one drawback: the birthday cake was decorated like a giant cheeseburger. It was pretty funny in person, but for this photo it just seemed…odd.

I did a hefty amount of Photoshop work on this to make it look like a more traditional birthday cake. After digging through Creative Commons for a while, I ended up compositing two or three different cakes with a few photos of lit candles to come up with the final reference photo. From there, it was a similar process as the others, with an especially low point midway through. Got to keep on going ’til it works!

This is my third painting in this style (besides Reino and the tomato), and I’m starting to notice where a few bad habits give me trouble later on.

  • Bad habit #1: mixing my color using the brush itself. This is problematic because I end up with way too much paint on the brush. I don’t want to clean the brush off and lose the paint, but I also usually don’t want to use so much. I go ahead and use it, and end up trying to dilute it and push it around on the canvas itself which doesn’t go well. I’ve misplaced my palette knife, so I have been mixing with the blunt end of a plastic sculpting tool.
  • Bad habit #2: relying too much on water. In my studio art classes in college I used both acrylic and watercolor. The acrylic was mostly a means to an end (figure painting) so the focus was more on color, tone, and composition. The watercolor classes weren’t subject-specific and focused much more on technique, which is probably why I fall back on those methods. To use those methods with acrylic takes more patience because I’ve found that water can dilute or scrub off a dry layer of paint. I need to be better about laying down transparent levels of gloss medium to seal it as I go to avoid this.

Now that I am aware of these, I should (hopefully!) be able to avoid them next time..!

The original photo

The original photo

Tone layer 1

Tone layer 1

Tone layer 2

Tone layer 2

Tone layer 3

Tone layer 3

Adding some blues

Adding some blues

First light wash

First light wash

Adding in yellows

Adding in yellows

Almost done

Almost done

Seeing the final result

Seeing the final result

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