tutorial

She comes to life

She comes to life... a portrait step by step

Have you been following the "work in progress" portrait on my facebook page last week? It has been such fun painting and sharing the process with readers at the same time. A challenge for sure, but very exciting... On Facebook I only shared the portrait part of the painting. I've been working on the background some more and it's finally done! So today I'd like to share the whole painting with you: it's called Gentle Heart.

Below you'll find slide-show and a recap of all the different steps from start to finish, including techniques. And as always, I look forward to reading your comments and answering any questions you may have, technical or otherwise. Enjoy!

Gentle heart, Mixed media painting on canvas © 2014 Laly Mille
Gentle heart, Mixed media painting on canvas © 2014 Laly Mille

First, a peek at my portrait toolkit!

portrait toolkit
portrait toolkit

And then,  it all starts like this...

Steps 1 & 2
Steps 1 & 2

Step 1: I start with lightly sketching the main features with a pencil, then add a light wash of white acrylic paint to the "skin" areas.

TIP: if you're not comfortable drawing, take a photo you like and print it the size you want the portrait to be. Roughly cover the back of the paper with a 2B or 3B pencil, then place it on your canvas (image facing you) and trace the features with your pencil on the photo: they will transfer to the canvas.

Step 2: Roughly shading with "walnut stain" Distress ink, using my fingers.

Steps 3 & 4
Steps 3 & 4

Step 3: Awakening her soul right from the start... Watersoluble black Stabilo All pencil + matte gel medium on a super fine brush.

Step 4: More shading, again with Distress inks in "walnut stain" and "old linen", using fingers and a small brush. I love the transparency of those inks, which allows the text underneath to show through...

Steps 5 & 6
Steps 5 & 6

Step 5: Shading some more and adding color to the lips with Pitt Artist pens (B, brush tip) #189 & #169. These are India ink pens. I add tiny touches of color, then move it around with a super fine, wet brush. And highlighting some areas with a white Posca paint pen and a paintbrush. At this stage the nose is way too round for my taste!

NB: Distress inks are water-soluble, which means that you should work with a dry brush or finger. BUT you can also use this to your advantage to create different effects. For instance if you want to add more definition to the eyebrow, you can add just a little bit of water or gel medium to your brush: you'll get a watercolour effect + variation in the color of the ink (walnut stain becomes more yellowish).

Step 6: Outlining the face and hair with the watersoluble black Stabilo All pencil and a wet brush. At this stage, she's really got her true soul...

Steps 7, 8 & 9
Steps 7, 8 & 9

Step 7: Hair and make-up + nose-job... using the same techniques as before.At this stage I was happy with what she had turned into. And yet, because the painting is part of a series, I put her side by side with the previous 2 paintings and found that her skin was much darker. And after a while it started bothering me. So...

Step 8: ... I thought maybe I could lighten it just a little bit... Bad idea: in seconds the face lost some of its freshness and  transparency. As a result, the lips now seemed too big and the nose looked weird...

Step 9: ... which led to more messing up and making her seem older... I don't dislike this more mature look, but it's just not who I feel she's wanting to become. Make-up removal is in order...

NB: It's been so interesting for me to get all your comments and perspectives at this particular stage. What's most important to remember is that at all times I keep trusting the process and waiting to see "who" is finally going to emerge on the canvas. What I mean to say, about "messing up", is that at some stage I have felt like I knew that girl, felt connected to her, and then I didn't recognize her anymore. But she's on her way...

Step 10: final version!
Step 10: final version!

Step 10: Here she finally is... I'm happy with how the innocent and more mature looks blended together. I have removed some of the paint on her skin and in her hair to reveal the book pages again, gone back to the first shape of the mouth and painted it a bit lighter, lightened the eyes too...

TIP: To safely remove layers of paint I use hydroalcoholic gel on a cotton bud.

As promised, here is the video showing you the whole portrait coming to life, from start to finish!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k0AXpk4cXQM

I hope that you enjoyed this process and that it will inspire you to try your own mixed media portrait... Remember to let go of any expectations regarding how the face is "supposed" to look. Let it unfold and bloom naturally, and once you get a glimpse of the soul behind it, take your time, let it sit aside for a while if you need to, don't rush it. But also know that "mistakes" are part of the process and that, like all our experiences in life, they shape who we become and allow us to learn and grow. They will eventually give your portrait its own unique character once it is fully born on your canvas. And of course you can ask me any questions here in the comments or on Facebook.

NB: Enjoyed the video? HERE is another one from last year that you might like: it's a mixed media floral painting, full of blooming roses...

Have a beautiful week-end!

Light & Love

Let's bloom! step by step painting (part 2) "How to" let art come to life

Let's bloom! step by step painting (part 2) "How to" let art come to life

Well everyone, first I want to thank all those of you who have been following my "work in progress" on facebook. Your response has been amazing and it really was like you were by my side while I painted! Thank you for your support and for making it so much fun!

Now, today is the 3rd Thursday of the month, which means it's Blog Circle time! And guess what this month's theme is? "How to..."! Talk about synchronicity. I think several of the Circle ladies are planning to talk about "how to" find inspiration, how to plant seeds for your creativity and your life, how to bloom! So as I share with you my finished "blooming" painting and the 2nd part of the process, we'll talk about that too, and I'll show you a little video!

But first, here is the newborn painting! It hasn't got a name yet and I think it's waiting for all of you fairy godmothers/fathers to find it, so please leave your suggestions in the comments!

Mixed media painting by Laly Mille

Mixed media painting by Laly Mille

So, "how to" go from the white canvas to this? I've shared the techniques on my facebook page (and you'll find images of all the steps at the end of this post), but if it were for techniques alone, it would never work. They're the visible part of the iceberg. And here is the very important "invisible" stuff :

- Feeling safe: to me this means that the blank canvas must go from intimidating white desert to fun familiar playground. In this painting it translated as putting some colors that I already like on the canvas, by randomly applying the left-over paint from my previous painting. And then writing whatever positive words came to mind all over the canvas as encouragement! And by using photos of real roses as guidelines so I don't have to worry about "how do I paint a rose???"

- Playing: when I paint, I go back to my childhood self, to this little girl who likes to play and believes in magic, who dares to just have fun, losing herself in the moment. Randomly sprinkling color, spraying water, moving the canvas, this is all so much fun! A little bit of this, a little bit of that, never over-thinking it... And this time it was also so much fun to have you all as playmates!

- Trusting and daring: by now I know that it's not all in my hands, that our art, just like a child, doesn't "belong" to us. It is born from us, we are the vessel through which it comes to life, we give it the best we've got, but eventually it has a life of its own, a place in the world that is not ours to "control", a purpose that we may never fully grasp. And once we accept this, what a relief! I like these words from Alanis Morissette : it's "the best platform from which to jump beyond myself" Yes it is! This sense of trust allows us to let go and dare! In this painting it translated as choosing a large canvas, writing intuitively all over the almost-finished painting with white-out, loading a brayer with white paint and covering many of the flowers even though I liked how they looked, blowing droplets of black India ink... And of course the scariest part was to share the process "live" while having no idea how it would end up! But scary + exciting = good!

So, here is a little video showing you the evolution of the painting, coming to life, from start to finish!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ej9QHg47YNM

And below is the 2nd part of the steps that led to the finished piece (the 1st part is here). There are a few steps that you didn't see on facebook...

And then you can head over to fellow artist Jean Wagner's beautiful blog and read her "how to" on happiness!

Have a lovely blooming day!

I'm looking forward to reading your feedback and title suggestions in the comments!

step30
step30

Let's bloom! a step by step painting project with roses (part 1)

Let's bloom! a step by step painting project with roses (part 1)

step11

Hey beautiful people! As some of you know, I've started another "step by step" painting project on my facebook page! Twice a day I post pictures of a painting in progress, explain what I'm doing and answer your questions in the comments...What an adventure! OK, I am a few steps ahead of you, but it's still pretty scary and exciting at the same time (the best kind of scary then!). The project started earlier this week and we're going to finish it by the end of next week (yes we are!). So in the meantime, here is a little check-in on what we have done so far (with some extra pictures...)

Here is what we've got so far:

And how we got there:

You can check out the previous step-by step I did HERE. I look forward to seeing you on my facebook page, come join the fun!

Compassion, a mixed media painting comes to life

Compassion, a mixed media painting comes to life

Compassion: Mixed media painting on canvas by Laly Mille

Compassion: Mixed media painting on canvas by Laly Mille

The inspiration for this painting comes from the amazing experience of finding a group of like-minded women and artists through Kelly Rae Roberts' "Flying Lessons" e-course: within this group we create a safe and supportive environment for each other, where we can share anything from technical tips and everyday worries and joys to the most difficult struggles, fears and experiences (many have yet to recover from hurricane Sandy). Although this is a "virtual" place, it enables us to connect in a very real way across the planet, and to truly practice what Brené Brown speaks of in "The Gifts of Imperfection" (I can't recommend that book enough!). These gifts are Courage, Compassion and Connection. They mean that we can share our most authentic selves, our whole hearts, and truly be seen, heard and valued for who we are, where we are in our lives, without judgement of any kind.

Compassion detail by Laly Mille

This new painting is the result of the "work in progress" project that has been ongoing on my Facebook page for the past 3 weeks! I really want to thank all those of you who have followed this process day after day and participated with your comments! Below are all the different steps again, from the blank canvas to the finished piece.

The words "Coeurage", "Compassion" and "Connection" are written on the painting. I like that they all begin with the letter C, which reminds me of the moon crescent. So for the text on the 2 characters' faces I used en enlargement of a dictionary page with the definition and origin of that letter.