For this tutorial, all I started with was my heavy body acrylics, and also that I wanted to paint a face (which I usually do).
It ended up with a celebration of nature, without journaling this time, just to focus on “Mother Nature”.
- a variety of heavy body acrylic paints: Liquitex Titanium White, Daler Rowney Process Black, and Golden Teal, Titan Buff, Smalt Hue, Transparent Yellow Iron Oxide, Cadmium Red Medium Hue and Green Gold
- a selection of brushes: Jane Davenport Mermaid brushes, Dina Wakley brushes and a cheap round brush that came in my son’s Art pack (I swapped them for a Da Vinci Junior set)
- a pot of water
- a dry baby wipe
- a heat tool (optional if you’re patient – not like me!)
- a graphite pencil
- Koh-I-Noor Giaconda hard pastels
I started by painting my girl’s face, using Titan Buff for the base of the skin colour, then Yellow Oxide for creating my shadows and placing the facial features.
I then used white to block the eyes and create my highlights, layering as I went along.
I added some black to create the lash lines, the nostrils and used the remnants of paint on my brush to scrub onto my page to give more definition to certain parts of the face and body, as well as deepening shadows. For each colour that I added thereafter, this is what I did. It cleaned my brush, not wasting paints (all these brands are a bit expensive!), but also bringing all colours used across several parts of my girl to bring some balance.
I created my girl’s lips in red, and using the leftover paint to brighten her cheeks and warm up the shadows. I also added some white highlights on the lips and cheeks, as well as building up on my existing ones.
Dabbing a little bit of yellow iron oxide at the tip of my girl’s breast, I created a subtle nipple.
One of the colours I picked initially was Green Gold by Golden. This is one of my favourite colours. When I started the painting, I wasn’t sure whether I would use all the colours that I had selected, but I knew for sure that I would want to use this one. I decided to use it to do her hair, and that’s how the idea of creating leaves for her hair came to my mind. From this moment on, my girl became “Mother Nature”.
I created the irises with Teal paint and outlined and dotted some Smalt Hue (a purplish blue) to break the colour and bring gradations and variety, as would happen in real eyes. I also used the Smalt Hue for creating the eyebrows – unusual, I know, but I was just drawn to it.
I then redefined the lashes with black paint and created the pupils in the eyes. Then again, scrubbing the leftover paint off my brush to deepen the shadows.
As the paint layers were quite thick in some parts, and the paint (being heavy body) was taking longer to dry, any additional colour could potentially be blended. But, in this instance, I wanted clean lines and stokes for my next step, so I started drying the paint layers with a heat tool, making sure to dry the back of the page as well. The journal I was using is made of sketchbook paper, so not as thick as mixed media or watercolour paper, which makes it possible to efficiently dry the bottom layers that way.
With my white paint, I created some highlights in the eyes, making them look more “alive”, and intensified the other highlights, especially on the lips. I also used this colour to blend my yellow oxide shadows I originally created at the start of the project. Scrubbing the white paint into these softened the blotches of colour, to make them more natural and blend with the rest of the face and body. Using the white again, I created some highlights on the leaves/hair to create more dimension. As the Green Gold I used is semi-transparent, the brushstrokes naturally created some texture and dimension, but adding the white highlight made them look more 3-dimensional and in line with the rest of the painting.
Using my hard pastels, I created a scribbly textured background around my Mother Nature, mixing light blue and purple to create variety, and used my slightly damp dried baby wipe (which I used to dry my brushes in between colours) to blend and soften the colours together.
I usually add some kind of journaling at this time, and also was quite tempted to draw black outlined doodle flowers around her, to emphasise the nature elements, but decided against these as I thought the girl on her own, “Mother Nature” was already creating the impact and giving the message I wanted my painting to convey.
I finished by creating some roughly scribbled lines to outline my girl’s face, features, body and “hair”, defining her shape a bit better from the background.