Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Brown Baggin' It!

Over the past few years, I've been learning to paint faces. There is so much inspiration out there in the way of online classes and a whole lot of artists that provide additional inspirational styles... and that's where my problem lies! I love them all. I've tried on a few styles by taking workshops with Suzi Blu and Mindy Lacefield, and I've been very happy with the results. But it's not me... totally. When I try to paint faces, sometimes I don't like the eyes, or the nose, or the lips, or the shape of the face. I get frustrated with the shading, the hair, hands, clothes.... and well.... just most of it! So I had an idea.

Sometimes I'll sketch something out on a piece of copy paper and I'll love it. Perhaps it was the feeling that I wasn't ruining my journal or a good piece of canvas with a painting I didn't like. Hmmmm.... what's something cheap I can paint on? Hey! How about brown paper lunch bags!!! Yesssssssss! That's it! I'll practice my faces on lunch bags. Perfect!

And what started as a side project when I had the time, has turned into an all-out obsession! I absolutely love painting on these lunch bags. The ease of the paint onto the surface. The base of kraft brown beneath my art. The crinkly look and feel of the paper. It's just begging to be messed with! And I've got a pack of 40! Can you tell I'm excited?

These bags handle layers and layers of paint and washes. I really don't feel bad about messing up anymore. Okay, so... maybe I do. A little.

In fact, I loved where this face was going so much that I was afraid to add hair for fear of messing it up. But alas... I turned to another one of my brilliant ideas and made photocopies of it... and then painted on those first!

But when I added it to the original it was even more exciting because I have gotten to the point in my sketching and painting where I can duplicate something I've already done! And the most important part... I'm not afraid to try! Practice really does help. Who knew (maybe someone at Carnegie Hall)?

I even had this idea to paint a portrait inspired by Charlie the Clown — a modern vintage rag doll I recently made. I applied the same rules of layering and shading that I had learned for people faces and it came out great! Just like I had pictured it in my mind. This is way too much fun!

So... what started as an exercise in practice painting, became a lesson in fearlessness. I have learned so much about how I approach art and what I do once I get there. I've learned to stop, look, and spend time in the details. And then stop again. I've learned to step back... and wait. Not to rush. To take my time. To make deliberate marks. And then do it all over again.... on the next one! I can't wait.


  1. Fantabulous !!! I can already see some "Michelle" style shining through. And what fun that you found a substrate that not only works for you and your process but that adds that "lived in" quality!
    Enjoy enjoy enjoy !

  2. These are beautiful! Wonderful job!

  3. these are terrific!!! you did a great job! xo

  4. Great work and such a neat idea! It was pleasing to the eye to look at. Keep up the great work!


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michelle renee bernard