Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Miniature Portrait: A Painting Process

*Update*~Thanks everyone! If you want to try this surface for yourself, here is a link to the business where I purchased the ivorine. She has all sorts of supplies for miniature painting, and she shipped it quickly too. I purchased the ivorine, the frame, and some very fine grade sandpaper to lightly scuff up the ivorine before painting. Happy painting! :)

Most of us who blog or visit blogs enjoy some sort of creative outlet, either art, creative writing, home decorating, or just being inspired by others who have a passion and wish to share it via the internet.
My creative outlet is painting. The joke around here is if something or someone sits still long enough, Mom will paint it. I'll paint walls, canvas, paper and even a kid or two. (Face paint for Halloween, of course!)

The beginning: Glasses- check, inspirational painting- check (I have to look at a face to paint or draw a face), drawing pencil- check, new miniature painting surface- check, eraser- definitely!

Sketched out and outlined with burnt umber paint. One thing I learned is not to be too heavy with this outlining or the painting has a harshness to it.

Ok, reading glasses are not strong enough, had to pull out the magnifier. It is starting to look like a science experiment! In this photo she has had a colorwash on the background and I've started on the facial features, and a little color on the hair.

Painting has always been a learning process for me. I'm self-taught and only really discovered I could draw or paint after I had children and became a stay-at-home Mom. Painting was for my own pleasure until someone saw my art and requested my first commissioned portrait. And especially back then I enjoyed trying to paint on just about anything because it was all new. Now I try to come up with unique surfaces as a challenge to myself.

Peek-a-boo, I see you....through the magnifier!

One surface I've always wanted to try is ivory. But, of course it is not available except on old piano keys, and that size sort of limits your options as to your subject.
So I've been on a search for a similar surface to ivory and found a product called ivorine. It is basically a thick plastic that has the look of ivory. It comes in sheets and you cut it to fit your painting or frame.

Having never painted on ivory before, I can't compare the ivorine to painting on ivory. But the ivorine was definitely a learning curve experience for me! I guess part of the challenge was the new surface I was learning to paint on, as well as the subject I wanted to first miniature portrait.

I love learning new things, and as anything, the first time is a learning process, so as I share these photos of the process....keep that in mind! :) She is not perfect and I've learned a lot about how the ivorine responds to the watercolor paint, so next time I'll use that knowledge to improve, hopefully! (I know, I'm my own worst critic!)

Up close and personal! Working on her face......eyes are so hard! You want them somewhat symmetrical, but not perfectly so. But hers need a little more work at this point! But check out her ear (enlarge the photo), I was really pleased with how that turned out.

A little more color is added. Layering and letting it dry was the best way to build the color.

She is in her 2 1/2 X 3 inch frame....all 1 1/2 inches of her! Still not quite sure if she is completely "done", but I'll look at her for a few more days and decide. Or, I may start another one! :)


Lana of Honeysuckle Lane said...

Oh my goodness, how petite ~ and beautiful!!! Suzanne, you are a wonderful artist!

clothnclay said...

I love the translucency! It looks just like porcelain. Beautiful!

Pat@Back Porch Musings said...

You are amazing, Suzanne! I love it!!

Robin's Egg Bleu said...

Oh, she's just gorgeous the way she is!

...Miss...Maddie's... said...

She is delightful with her delicate lips and skin tone like ivory.
A perfect little miss!
xo Susan

Diane Costanza said...


You are an artist after my own heart! I adore painting 2 1/2" x 3 1/2" aceo historic watercolor portraits. I checked out your Etsy shop and I love the little girl with the doll in the oval frame. If she were in my budget, she would be mine. So pretty.

Thanks for the tip on the ivorine. I will try that. I have only painted on canvas, wood and paper, myself and am fascinated in trying a new surface.


Atticbabys said...

What fun! She turned out amazing Suzanne! I may have to give it a try too!

Nana said...

This little lady is a beauty in every respect.

(That ear is quite fine. And in this family we do know a fine ear when we see one!)

This work truly has the look of a priceless antique.

Well done - once again.

foobella said...

I love her. She's precious.

That ivorine must be pretty porous (sp?) to accept watercolors, I would think, no?

Manuela@Pleasures of Homemaking said...

I did enlarge it - that's just beautiful Suzanne! You are amazing!


Cathy ~ Tadpoles and Teacups said...

Just lovely!!
I also paint miniature watercolors--and reading glasses def don't do the trick anymore for me either.

Plain-n-Simple! said...

Oh So beautiful!!!!!!!!!!!!

Heather said...

How lovely! Its fascinating to see your process, I just love these delicate little paintings...

Julie said...

Hi Suzanne,
I absolutely love this little painting. Not just anyone can paint a minature. It takes alot of talent and you have it!!!!

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Charles said...

I actually enjoyed reading through this posting.Many thanks.
Portrait Painting