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In the Studio This Week – A Companion Portrait, Metal Leaf, and Mark-Making

In the studio this week, I started and maybe finished a companion portrait to the woman I painted the week before. I’m still trying to get the courage to start on what will be my portfolio pieces. I’m not sure why I’ve been so reluctant to go big. I think I’m almost ready to take the plunge.

Companion Portrait

I had painted a portrait of a mature woman surrounded with grapes in last week’s work. I adopted some of the recommendations from the Milan Art Institute coach by letting the grapes and leaves spill off the canvas.

Portrait of a mature woman surrounded by grapes

I was getting ready to drag out one of the three big canvases I recently purchased when Michael’s had a buy one, get two free sale. These canvases are large – two feet by 3 feet! I feel intimidated by the mere size.

I ended up pulling out a canvas I had already dribbled paint over that was the same size as the woman portrait I had just painted. In keeping with the theme, I opted to paint a mature man.

I sketched him out on the canvas using charcoal sealed with a fixative. I got creative with the spray paint and stencils thinking I could save some work creating the grapes later in the process.

Initial draft of a portrait of a mature man surrounded by grapes

I found using stencils for the grapes made them entirely too uniform, so I added some leaves across the area. This stage is done in acrylic paint.

Portrait of a mature man surrounded by grapes done in acrylic paint

More details are added to the background and the face.

Portrait of a mature man surrounded by grapes

Now I’ve switched to oil paint and used it to highlight selected grapes in the bunch and to develop the leaves more. I worked more on the face but think I can do more to soften the wrinkles and shape the nose and neck better.

Portrait of a mature man surrounded by grapes with oil paint embellishment

Overall, I think this painting pairs well with the one I just completed.

Collage showing two portraits: One of a mature man and one of a mature woman

Metal Leaf

I had a few small canvases and frames in my stash. I also had some leftover gold metal leaf from a previous project.

I covered the canvases with the metal leaf and adhered them to the frame.  I plan to do a splatter effect over the frame and canvas but haven’t quite figured out where to do it. I have a big tarp that I could lay outside once the weather cooperates.

Two canvases and frames with gold metal leaf applied.

Mark Making

I have a real hard spot with not suing up all my paint. Acrylic paint can’t keep very long as it dries out quickly. I keep a few old books that I have repurposed and use them to play with leftover paint and different mark making techniques. This is my latest result, using leftover paint and a toilet paper roll to make marks on the page.

Mark making in an old book done with acrylic paint and using a toilet paper roll to make circles.


I learned a lot about portraits of more mature models. I find they exude a certain character not found in younger, pretty models. I learned that I have been procrastinating in taking the big step to develop my portfolio. The goal is to have 20 paintings in my portfolio to present for the graduation certificate from The Mastery Program. My inner critic still chimes in and tells me I’m not ready; I’m not good enough!

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