Okay, where do I begin...
Let's start from the beginning then:
I know it seemed simple.
A portrait of my sister and her best friend, so she could gift it to her on her upcoming birthday.
My sister ran into my studio and fastly pointed to the smallest painting I've ever tried to make. 3 x 3 inches.
"Oh my God, that's too small, you're crazy. I would have to use a brush with only ONE single bristle or something like that, which I don't have!", I said.
But she insisted... Emphasizing that the small painting she was pointing out looked super cute and well finished.
That one is not even finished! I couldn't finish it because of how small it was!
Man, what I was about to get myself into?
In the end, I accepted, "c'mon, it will be a nice challenge."
The reference picture looked good. A point in favor.
The deadline, a whole month apart.
(But it became tight because my procrastinating self waited until it was 1 week apart to start the project. Claudia from the past hates future Claudia.)
The size... was the only thing I was not content with. 4 x 6 inches.
To be honest, I was fearing for my short-sighted eyes and my poor back... Yes, especially my poor back, since I was predicting I had to hunch over those tiny faces while fighting to achieve little details.
But I said to myself, okay, you got this. If you screw up nothing actually bad can happen, just returning the money 😂
So * clears throat *
I spent 2 hours making the sketch. Placing everything where I thought it had to be. Tracing guidelines... Making some maths in my head:
"2/3 of the eye length from the tear gland straight down for placing the start of the nose ala..."
*Sister breaks in the room *
"What's that? Why am I so fat?"
"What do you mean you're fat?", I responded.
"In the drawing! I look so fat, what's that double chin?"
Me, * Stands up after being half an hour hunched over the drawing *
OOPS! Rookie mistake!
You're supposed to stand up from time to time to appreciate what you're drawing from the distance and notice mistakes you're not able to see for being too close.
Double chin corrected!! And the second face all done 👍
WOOHOO! Time to start to paint!
I like to call this stage the UGLY-PAINT-STAGE
The part where I'm just covering the white of the canvas, and mindlessly trying to approach the right hues. It does not need to be perfect yet.
Oh yes, ugly colors ugly brushstrokes.
But after that, it's oil painting stage. Now it does get serious.
I attempt to reach the right colors, the right forms... wiping the sweat out of my forehead as I try to kick away the hungry mosquitoes eating my legs on a warm Venezuelan night.
YOU. CAN. DO. IT.
Second face is done! Yay!
God this is so small...
My fist for scale.
BAM! I made it!
The hardest part is over.
Now it's time to paint the background :)
Let me see... let's find the perfect orange...
Not too bright, to avoid distracting the eye from the main figures... And not too grayish, so it doesn't look like a dead orange.
HA! Looking good.
*Sister kicks the door open and peeps over my shoulder *
Oh my god, now what
"Hmm... that orange seems great... but what about a gradient? From dark orange to light orange."
"A gradient using acrylics? Shoot, that's kind of hard... I don't promise anything."
Acrylic paint has a record drying time. You put the paint, three seconds later, it's all dry. So it is very hard to blend colors while the paint is still wet, you got to be SUPER fast.
Well heck... It didn't turn out that great...
I didn't like how sloppy it looked, not looking neat at all so-
Let's stick to plain orange.
One of the things I really like to make in my portrait commissions is backgrounds. I like to make it a plain color and kind of stamp the background with cute figures that have an emotional bond with the people portraited.
In this case, my sister loves beer to death, and so does her best friend. Lots of her great memories together implied partying and drinking beer, so she chose little beer drawings as a repetitive pattern for it.
That night I was exhausted and decided to stop and go to bed, but before that, I outlined the first pair of beers on the plain orange paint.
Early the next morning I heard someone slowly opening my bedroom door.
"Hey... The beers for the background are going to be that big?"
"Wwwat", I said obviously half asleep half awake.
"You outlined the first pair of beers... They're too big. Make them smaller."
WHAT DO YOU MEAN IT'S TOO BIG?! YOUR FACE is too big!! Come onnnn!!
Man, how am I supposed to cover that mark I made? To mix the exact same orange hue from the background is going to be so difficult!!!
Okay, there you have your smaller beer, you happy now?
I made a small paper-cut guide for the beer drawing and traced it a few times.
Then started to paint them.
Apparently I made it until the end!!
After washing my brushes that night, I ran into my sis bedroom and said:
"It's done. Finished. Terminado. I'm not changing a single thing."
And after that, I sighed again but now in relief.
All content is my own unless otherwise stated.