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













people, I tried to tell you.






It did not go well.






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).


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:


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:


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?


I think they ALL look like they should be on your wall. But, the last one IS the best.

Seriously, you have more talent in your fingernail than I have in my entire body (and I'm not a small woman!)


you have patience in the extreme... it's lovely! :)

it looks awesome, like i said that inner critic of yours is harsh. . . though the last one does look great the first too aren't half bad either. . .

I think it looks great!!! The first one seemed to have too much contrast between the light and the dark. You could try an Andy Warhol style and pick the wrong colors on purpose and make a series. I know there are computer programs to do that. (Not a huge fan of Warhol, but it could be cool.) Thanks for sharing the tips from the art store.

I like it :). Another tip for acrylics: if you mix the paint on a damp paper towel (the less bounty-ish, the better!) with a foil-covered cardboard piece underneath to support it, it keeps the paint from drying out. I've even saved paper towels with paint in a tupperware container if I needed to use it the next day. Warning: eventually it will grow mold ;).

Ok, you're totally right about the first one. Not human. The second is so much better -- and then the third one is significantly better than the second and waaayyy better than the first. So, yes, you are headed in the right direction!

(And I did pee my pants a little when I saw the first one.)

I think it is LOVELY!! You fixed it and now it is amazing. I can't wait to try this.


Wonderful! I love the second and third. I've been doing pastels with the "upsidedown" method for awhile now and it works very well to get you mind off of trying to do it perfectly.
The second one would be nice with a darker breakup under the nose and under the lower lip, maybe.
I love the colors in the quilt. Did that come out better than the face...or what?

I think it looks great, amazing how you can fix the colours like that. Yay for helpful art store artists. I really think it's looking brilliant.

Dude, you did it! Zoomed in on the quilt, oh my, you are one patient soul! The third one looks beautiful.

Gorgeous! That is a beautiful painting. Job well done, Alicia!

Wow, I'm stunned. It's beautiful. I wanna be you.

Wonderful!!! I'm inspired ... and will surely have many, many "before" images to share :-)

I LOVE it. Alicia, you are so talented!

Very nice save! It looks wonderful~ Loving the quilt as well!

Alicia are you familiar with the book "Painted Faces You can Do" by Bonnie Lyn Mccaffery? She is part of my local guild and is an award winning quilter.That particular book has great tips for painting faces on fabric

You were right, gad ! You did ruin it. BUT looks like you've rescued it from going into the dust bin.
Lighter is much better. Good job. . . . with lots of patience.

I applaud your patience Alicia. It looks great!

Beautiful! There is also an 'extender' you can use for acrylics that helps it not dry so quickly. Love the last one -- looks airy and pretty.

I think it is lovely, Alicia, and that you are entirely too hard on yourself. I think the middle one looked really good, too. I can only imagine how excited and special that little girl will feel to know that her aunt did a PAINTING of HER. Wow.

It turned out great Alicia! and the first one isn't as horrifying as you made it seem :o)

you are one talented chick! x

I think you've cracked it. I once used a self-tanner that made me look like that first picture.

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About Alicia Paulson


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