Why Not to Give Up on Your Acrylic Portrait Painting

Why Not to Give Up on Your Acrylic Portrait Painting

It’s easy to get frustrated in the middle of painting an acrylic portrait. Possibly your skin tones aren’t looking natural, or the values are off. Maybe the portrait just doesn’t look like the person you’re trying to capture. When you’re going for realism, and it just isn’t happening, what do you do? Although you may be tempted to give up, don’t. I want to give you 3 reasons why: 1. You will save time, paint and materials. Let’s face it. Painting is a labor of love. As artists, we could choose more lucrative jobs, where our exchange of time for money paid better. But we put a lot of hours into creating a high-quality unique work of art. So if you have put several hours into a painting only to scrap it and start over, you lost that time. In addition, you lost money with the cost of canvas, paint, and wear and tear on your brushes. Now, even if you paint just as a hobby, it’s frustrating to take the time to create something and then have nothing to show for that time you allotted in your busy schedule. Finishing the painting makes sense then, even from a purely material standpoint. 2. Pushing past a difficult point in your painting will build your resilience and grow your “artistic muscle”.  It’s easy to give up. Sticking with something when your thoughts and emotions are screaming, “This looks terrible…I’m done with this!” is way, way harder. This is similar to weightlifting. Serious bodybuilders know they won’t get great results unless they push past the pain. As they break down their...
Smoldering Wick, Part 2: the Photo Shoot

Smoldering Wick, Part 2: the Photo Shoot

In a previous post, I shared before how when I was going through a difficult time, God encouraged me with a verse in Isaiah 42 that inspired the painting “Smoldering Wick.” I sketched out the idea, and then the sketch sat around for a few years before I got the chance to actually paint it.   There were many distractions–a part time job, painting commissions, and my own procrastination. I wanted the painting to be just right. Waiting for the ideal circumstances, I delayed starting the project. But finally, one day I realized unless I actually just took some steps to start the painting, it would never happen. So I asked my brother-in-law, Zach, to come over to my house for a photo shoot. Why a photo shoot? It’s not like I run a model agency! Here’s why… When you are trying to do a realistic painting, you can’t just “invent” the realism. At least I can’t. Maybe some can. But I think history bears out that the best realistic paintings of all time–like Rembrandt’s “Night Watch” or Caravaggio’s “Conversion of St. Paul” were painted using real-life models posed specifically for the artists to paint from. In other words, they didn’t just paint from memory. They used a reference. I am not comparing myself to either Rembrandt or Caravaggio, by the way. But their work inspires me. One day then, Zach came over to my house, which I transformed into something like a theater stage or movie set. Well, one room at least. My wife gave me permission to do that for a few hours, as long as I...
A Smoldering Wick He Will Not Snuff Out, Part 1

A Smoldering Wick He Will Not Snuff Out, Part 1

What do you do when you feel like you are at the end of your rope? I recently finished a painting called “Smoldering Wick,” which I’ve shared on Facebook a little bit, and many people have asked what it is about. Even though I just finished the painting just at the end of last year, the idea came to me several years ago. I was feeling discouraged about certain things in my life that weren’t measuring up, my failures and mistakes glaring me in the face, and I wondered if God could forgive me. Many times when I feel this way, I get on my knees, open up my Bible in front of me and ask God to speak to me out of His word. Although I know God is forgiving and that He also will help me in all my discouragement and difficulties in life, I want to experience this forgiveness and goodness from God. I want to know He is right there with me. Some people may be able to, but I have a hard time shutting of the floodgate of my feelings. When I feel down, I can’t just put a smile on my face and pretend everything is OK when, inside, I feel like I’m drowning. And I’ve found from experience that nobody knows me like God, not even myself. And nobody cares to listen to me pour out the bitterness of my soul like God. And nobody has the answers that I so desperately need like God. And so this is what I do. I seek the Lord until He comes and reigns His...
How I do Shading with Acrylic (Video)

How I do Shading with Acrylic (Video)

Hope you had a great Thanksgiving. I know I did. It was rejuvenating to take a little time off from the studio, and spend it with family. Sometimes as an artist, you feel the crunch of having to create a lot of artwork, and your creative energies get tapped out. Thanksgiving’s a fantastic time to recharge, give thanks to God for all the blessings He’s given, be with family, and of course, eat a wonderful home-cooked meal. Back to the studio tomorrow. While teaching art classes lately, I’ve discovered one of the most challenging things for my students to learn is how to shade. For artists and art appreciators, shading is a mysterious thing. We wonder how to do it, or how others did it. Shading– the transition from a dark value to a lighter value in a two-dimensional work of art–is one of the most important techniques you can master to make a painting or drawing look realistic. I’d like to share a video (hosted on YouTube) I created earlier this week about that, with you. This is my first art instructional video–in fact really the first serious video recording I’ve done, since the old days of playing around with a VHS-C camcorder with my buddies after school. We made some pretty crazy movies back then! Somewhere towards the end of the video–maybe about 2/3 of the way through–is where I really get into it: how to do shading with acrylic and make it look real. Hope you enjoy this video, and let me know if it helps you in your painting. Let me know, too, how I can...
A Portrait of My Veteran Friend

A Portrait of My Veteran Friend

It was November 11, 1919. A year ago on that same day, Germany and the Central Powers agreed to put a stop to the war, laying down their arms and agreeing to the terms of peace set forth by the Allies. President Woodrow Wilson wrote a message to the people of America on this first commemorative Armistice Day: “…The war showed us the strength of great nations acting together for high purposes, and the victory of arms foretells the enduring conquests which can be made in peace when nations act justly and in furtherance of the common interests of men. To us in America the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with – solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service, and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of nations.” Armistice Day was later officially changed to Veteran’s Day in 1954. This is a day that we honor veterans, not just those who have died in service, but the living as well. Both my grandfather and grandmother served in World War II. My grandfather was a pilot who did bombing missions in the Philippines, and my grandmother was a troop transport pilot, spunky and zealous enough to get in the army at age 16 (beats trying to get in a bar under-aged, right?). They met there during service and later got married upon returning home at the conclusion of the war. My brother...
New Artwork: Picking Up the Mantle

New Artwork: Picking Up the Mantle

Everybody has a calling; a unique reason for being here on planet earth. It all starts with God as the foundation, since He created us, just like the engineer of a finely tuned watch knows what its purpose is. And just like that watch will give honor to its maker by operating as it is supposed to, so will we, when we do what God has created us for. In fact, the whole purpose of our lives is to bring glory to God. The first and biggest way we can do that is accept the fact that we need Him and receive His forgiveness for our sins, His gift of eternal life to us through the accomplishment of His Son’s death and resurrection. After that, step by step, we go on a journey to let the glory of God shine in our lives moment by moment, day by day, walking in dependence upon Him and bringing every blessing and every trial as a gift of thanks and a petition for help. In the Bible, the prophet Elijah was about to be taken up to heaven. His special role as a messenger to God’s people would be transferred to His student and successor, Elisha. These were big shoes to fill: Elijah had prayed for a drought to cause the nation of Israel to seek God again, and God shut up the heavens for three years. Elijah asked God to show His glory by fire on Mount Carmel so the Israelites would stop worshiping idols, and God sent the fire. And Elijah prayed again for it to rain, and sure enough,...
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