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Daily Portrait Painting #44: Blue!


Mixed Media on Paper, Kelly Anne Powers (Quick side note: Find me on Snapchat to see the thinking that goes into my daily paintings.  Snapchat name: Kelly Anne Powers)

I have felt an artist plateau the last couple of days. Some of it maybe be just the emotional landscape of a birthday. Whatever it is, it’s helping me realize that I need to shake some things up with my painting practice. So for the next few paintings, I’m going to try and focus on painting in blue. Such a simple task...or so I thought.The subject of this painting is much smaller than I normally paint and also much bluer than I normally painting. The smaller only became a problem because I have a set of stencils I use in particular ways. At this smaller size, all of my small stencils suddenly felt way too big. I like this size, but I’ll need to cut some new stencils for the projects.

The color thing. Oh boy. Let’s talk about how color was a great challenge.


It’s really hard for my camera to photograph one hue. It’s like the camera doesn’t have enough information to grab a true color. Also, working with blues meant that I was working with far more saturated color than I normally do. Cameras clearly have trouble with saturated colors.IMG_1847-SQ-1000web Tools

My tools for solving problems were not intuitive. When I hit a confusing point in a painting, normally I’ll turn toward a different color of paint. A new color helps shake things up. I was forced to think about what wasn’t working in the painting instead of distracting myself with a pretty new color.

I’m not sure when the painting is finished.

This is another way the one color thing has me super scrambled. I have a set of steps I generally go through to finish a painting. And weirdly, none of them work the same way when I’m down to one color. It’s helping me realize just how much I use color to avoid making other decisions.

IMG_1866-SQ-1000web Saturation! No wait. Value!

I thought the main thing I struggled with was the saturation differences between my blues. I used a primary cyan and it exploded. However, when I greyed my painting in Photoshop,  I realized that what I was really dealing with was value. Color is so tricky. You think you’re evaluating it on one thing (saturation) and really you’re evaluating it on something completely different (value.)

What I love:

I love the eyes in this one. I love the line along the right side of the face. I feel really good about how the features are laid out on the face.


What I don’t love:

I really have no idea what choices I need or want to make to finish the painting. I want to separate the background from the foreground enough so that it’s not all one pile but I want to keep those edges from becoming cut out and hard.  Time to use value? Pattern? But how, and how will using those affect the rest of the painting?

All and all, this was a really fun experiment. I can tell it’s forcing me to think about the properties of my colors other than their hues. I’ll keep working in blues for the next few days and see what I learn.

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