Mermaid Acrylic Portrait Painting

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About: I'm a self taught polymer clay artist / sculptor making figurines, dolls and accessories. I sell my artworks in pop culture conventions and in my Etsy shop. I also make crafting and sculpting video tutoria...

This was a fun piece where I combined both things that I love which is sculpting and painting in creating a portrait. I like the effect of the sculpted face as if the mermaid is peeking out of the painting. For this project I used acrylic paints firstly because it is well received by both polymer clay and wood. Secondly, I find it quite a forgiving medium and fairly easy to make changes to mistakes. Lastly, it dries quickly so there is less waiting when painting in layers. Have a go and let me know how yours turn out. I've enjoyed this so much that I plan to make more.

Supplies:

1. MDF panel

2. Polymer Clay

3. Acrylic paints ( I used Atelier Interactive acrylic paints)

4. Paint Brushes

5. Clear Resin ( I used Pebeo Glazing Resin)

6. 2 part epoxy adhesive

7. 800 grit sand paper

8. Gesso

9. Sculpting tools

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Step 1: Sculpting the Face

I used polymer clay to sculpt the face and since it will be painted over, this is a good way to use scrap pieces of clay. Just knead the various coloured scrap pieces of clay to achieve a homogenous colour to make it easier to sculpt.

To help with this step, you can watch the sculpting process of the linked video where I map out the features of the face and sculpting in an additive way to create the features from basic shapes. However, before I sculpted the face, I made a concept sketch of the piece to give me an idea on how big to sculpt the face and the overall composition of the piece.

After baking, let it cool and attach to the panel using a 2 part epoxy adhesive.

Step 2: Prepare the Panel

I used gesso to prepare the surface for painting. I painted 4 layers of gesso drying in between layers then sanding lightly with an 800 grit sand paper. Then I painted the whole surface with grey acrylic paint to tone the surface. I find it is much easier to paint a mid tone coloured surface rather than stark white. Then using a graphite pencil, redrew the rest of the mermaid.

Step 3: Painting in Acrylic Paints

I painted this piece in several layers mostly from dark to light. This is how I achieved to paint depth especially the hair. Because acrylic paints dries quickly, there is not a lot of time to blend colours. However, the acrylic paint that I used can be blended quite a bit due to its unique formulation. But if you're using regular acrylic paints, painting thin layers on top of each dried layer works well. Also, I thin the paints with both water and flow medium to achieve a smooth layer. You can definitely approach the painting process in a different way, perhaps thick layers of paint to show brush strokes as Van Gogh did.

To complete the portrait, I poured clear resin to give it a glass-like finish. However, you can varnish it instead with several layers of gloss varnish.

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