In this tutorial I will show you how to paint using my 7-step method that I sometimes call Rainbow style. You can follow along and learn how to paint without the nuisance of having to mix any colors or shades. We are going to be using acrylics, and only 7 colors symbolized by the acronym YVRGBOW: Yellow, Violet, Red, Green, Blue, Orange, & White. For this exercise I painted a portrait of my favorite artist, the infamous photographer Diane Arbus. This painting turned out to be very special to me in a way words can not describe, but I can only say that it is my favorite portrait out of all my paintings. Above is the source photo, a film test shot by her husband Allan Arbus in 1949.

Step 1: Yellow & Violet - Outline and Intitial Shading

I took the first photo at step 2 actually, as step 1 is just a vague yellow outline. Yellow is the ideal starter color because it's the lightest one, easy to cover up. I prefer to start with a vague outline in order to set up the purple step 2 that solidifies it. It gives you a chance to perfect any initial mistakes. You can be very sloppy with the yellow layer. Here I actually slopped on more yellow after getting the outlines solid.

Before proceeding I want to explain my selection of this model. From the first time I saw the above photograph of Diane Arbus, I knew that I had to paint her. She simply has the most compelling face I've ever seen. I am also a huge fan of her photography career and everything she stood for. What Diane Arbus was was a bonafide occultist, exposing things that society would never have seen or known if it wasn't for her. Her presence in this world has enriched us all and will continue to effect society in ways that we can not even comprehend. This is a pivotal person in history who I believe can not be appreciated enough.

Thank you SO much! You helped me more than I can express. I was attempting my own, similar technique but was getting hung up at certain points. Your tutorial helped me see that I was using color appropriately, but not in the best order. I was hell bent on blue first, and it wasn't working well for me.
<p>You're very welcome. Yeah, I've found blue to work best as the final shade color. It can really deepen the contrast when applied on top of other dark colors. I'm happy you found the technique so useful. </p>
<p>I tried this technique and it was looking good till the white stage, then it all got covered over. does anybody have any ideas for the white stage and what i did wrong?</p>
I suspect you overdid it on the highlights step, which is not hard to do. The good thing though is that if you start over color by color, it will come out smoother the second time around. Even if you didn't overdo it, it's good to go through the steps a second time if you're really going for that polished look. <br><br>If you took photos of your steps, I'd be happy to give you advice. Also, I've written a couple other tutorials on my website which go through the same basic steps, but produce a much more stylized portrait. Reading through those should help you get a better understanding of this tutorial. <br><br>http://jlampkin.com/tutorial<br>http://jlampkin.com/technique<br><br>Even if you didn't take photos of the steps, I'd like to at least see the final stage and give you some pointers. There's a contact form on my website, or you can message me from here. :)<br><br>-Jeremy
I didn't take any pictures unfortunately. Didn't occur to me that I wasn't going to be putting the painting on the wall. And I threw out the botched portrait. I'm new to the world of acrylic paint. (I mostly sketch with pencils.) How do I create a lighter coat of white paint?
<p>I'm sorry, it's been 5 months and I just noticed you replied. It's too bad you threw out the painting because it definitely could have been salvaged. To lighten your white layer, you could mix an acrylic medium to make it more translucent or just thin the paint slightly with water. It's good to thin your overlay color (in this case, orange) too, so it doesn't drown out the multi-colored effect too much.</p>
Forgot to thank you for responding to me. I was really excited that you did
<p>Loved your tutorial! I decided to do this on a night I had insomnia, (last night), and finished it today. It's not perfect, but I'm digging it! I love this technique, I'm starting a new one today. Any advice would be greatly appreciated! Maybe more color and depth in the background?</p>
<p>Awesome, I really like what you've done here Melissa. It has a classic impressionist feel. The subtle undertones of color look really good. It's not hard to overdo it on the later steps and lose that effect. Personally, I like the subtlety of the background. You can still feel the wavy colors and textures there. The best advice I could offer is to just practice; you'll get a better feel for the technique over time. </p><p>With this one, you may want to add just a few touches on the details. A strong contrast in certain select areas can really make a portrait pop. For a final touch, you could darken the shadows maybe in the nostrils, the line between the lips, and under the bottom lip. </p><p>I've found it's good to pay close attention to how light and shadow hits the corners of the mouth and eyes. Mouths tend to have stronger highlights just under the dark line dividing the lips and just above the upper lip, and then also under the lower lip but mostly near the corners. Please let me see how your next portrait turns out. :)</p>
<p>I tried this technique and it was looking good till the white stage, then it all got covered over. does anybody have any ideas for the white stage and what i did wrong?</p>
<p>This is one of the best and easiest ways I have seen to paint a portrait.</p>
Thank you for saying so. If you're interested in learning about more stylized portraiture, there's a couple other tutorials on my website.
I love it!&nbsp; Thank you SO much for posting this tutorial! I can't wait to give it a go using your technique!
Thanks. I'd like to see what you come up with, if you wouldn't mind posting the result.
Nice instruction :-) thank you for sharing. Now could you pass on a little of your hard earned talent as well :-D
Since you asked so nicely, here's a little talent for you then. Now you just have to paint a portrait to realize how good you are.

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