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In the Studio This Week – Portraits, Spray Paint, and Collage

In the studio this week, I worked on finishing the portrait from last week. I named her “Greta Grunge.” My husband thinks she looks like Eliza Doolittle from “My Fair Lady.” I then ventured into using spray paint and deriving an image out of the mess. Finally, I started on another portrait, this time using collage.

Greta Grunge

The final two steps in the process were to apply the opaque layer using acrylic paint. I focused mainly on the face and was happy with the result.

Portrait of a girl wearing a hat, done in a grunge style

The next step was to use oils and I wasn’t sure I wanted to do that. A lot of my reluctance came from just the setup required to switch to oils. Sometimes I get lazy!

Anyway, I finally decided to go ahead, and I believe the additional work was well worth the effort.

Portrait of a young girl in a knit cap done in a grunge style

Spray Paint

I had ordered a set of water-based spray paints, but they ended up being backordered. I happened to be in the vicinity of Blick’s art supply and picked up just three cans as I needed them immediately. The advantage of water-based spray paint is that you can use it indoors! It is hard to find though.

This lesson demonstrated various techniques for using spray paint in art. I started with a layer of washes with acrylic paint, followed by spraying random blobs of spray paint. Then I applied heavier coats of spray paint such that it dripped. This is the result:

An abstract pinting using spray paint and stencils

From this, the artist is supposed to see an image or a scene to develop further. I wasn’t sure I was seeing anything. I finally decided to flip the painting and thought I could visualize a mountain scene.

An abstract pinting using spray paint and stencils

I used acrylic glazes to get it this far:

A painting of a mountain scene

Then I applied a layer of opaque acrylic.

A painting of a mountain scene with a lake

The next step is to use oil paint, but again I’m feeling lazy about dragging them out. Maybe I’ll wait until I’m at the oil paint stage in the next lesson.


I was excited for this lesson as I have practiced collage for many years. My first attempts were in high school when I was allowed to do a collage as an assignment in my history class rather than writing an essay. The subject was the Vietnam war, but I digress.

I’ve done more recent collage using the paper as paint and tearing small strips, each representing a brushstroke. Here are two of my favorites:

Painted paper collage of two pelicans

The Mastery Program’s approach to collage was different than I expected. The demonstration used much larger pieces of collage material and then proceeded to cover it pretty much up with paint. Hmmm…. This is how my studio looks when I do collage:

The artist's studio with paper strewn about

I chose a photograph of a young girl cuddling an owl perched on her shoulder. I am drawn to portraits and birds, especially owls. Perhaps you’ve noticed a theme here. I sketched out the photo on mixed-media paper using an acrylic paint marker.

Drawing of a young girl with an owl perched on her shoulder

Then I applied various papers, trying to mimic the shapes and colors of the girl’s hair, dress, and the owl. I decided to leave the face and hair blank and just use paint to flesh them out.

Collage portrait of a young girl with an owl on her shoulder

The next steps are to use modeling paste medium to blend the collage edges and then to use acrylic and oil paint to finish the painting. Stay tuned next week to see the results.


The biggest takeaway this week was the realization that I get lazy too often and don’t do the work necessary to fully complete a painting. I Have been focused on staying on track with the Mastery Program schedule and that can add to the decision to stop too soon.

Thank you for staying with me through this period of personal learning and growth. I hope, if nothing else, you get some inspiration to try your chosen creative activity.

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