Wednesday, February 1, 2017

NaMoPaiMo - Day 1


Yes, it has been nearly two years since I have posted here. That certainly was not my intention, but life got in the way.

This month I'm participating in a 28 day challenge called NaMoPaiMo. What is that? National Model Painting Month was conceived by Jennifer Bray Buxton of the Braymere Blogspot fame. Today, Febrauary 1, 2017, marks day one of NaMoPaiMo. While I have been whittling down my outstanding  commissions, I have realized that what I really need is a boost. A shot in the arm. A way to get myself back in the habit of truly thinking about painting and just getting it done. As a result, I signed up for NaMoPaiMo and successfully completed day 1 of the challenge.

I started with a "Maxixe de Barios" Criollo resin body, sculpted by the talented Morgen Kilbourn. I have long dreamed of transforming this sculpture into a piece for my own collection and show string.  My plan is to paint this piece to a lightly dappled, and lightly flea-bitten grey.

I started out with this fellow primed in Rustoleum Painter's Touch Primer, flat white colored. My first step was to paint him a slightly creamier (not so stark) white in acrylics. I used several layers of thinned (watered down) acrylics to achieve the desired results. 

My next step was to add some shading on his face. Why do I start with the face? Humans are innately programmed to look at the faces of all other humans, as well as all other beings, miniature reproductions included. While the work on the body will be extremely important, creating a realistic and expressive face that the viewer can relate to is a primary concern of the painter. 

I admit that pastels are not my favorite medium. They are potentially messy, and require a fixative spray, however I have never found another medium that is so successful at recreating the delicate color transitions on the face of a light grey. 

I'm painting in February, near Chicago, so pastelling outdoors or in the garage is not an option. Instead, paper towels, taped down to the table, are an excellent surface for catching stray pastel dust. I start out with a small amount of wax paper on the surface as well, which I use as a palette for a bit of black paint for the eye balls. 

Some artists keep the eyeballs white throughout the painting process but I prefer to darken them from the start, adding additional colors and details closer to the completion of the piece. Why do I do this? Maintaining that the face and expression are of utmost importance, I like to have an idea of what the large, dark eye will look like on the piece from the start. 

I have mostly Sennelier brand soft pastels, but as you see, I crumble and crush them into small containers, labeled with the stock number for each color. This is another tactic for managing the dust. 

My tools today include a pastel smoothie and two small dental tools. Pastel smoothies are large, fluffy brushes, which can distribute a delicate layer of pastels where you want them. They are also superb blending tools. These are available from various art supply shops. I believe that these come in three sizes, and I find the smallest smoothie to be the most useful. The dental tools come in various shapes and sizes and are available online. I have had them so long that I no longer recall the source. You can see two in the photo: a green handled tool with a round end, and a white handled tool with a pointy end. These tools are best for applying a small area of pastel to your sculpture. They are intended to be disposable, and come in packages of 100 or more. 

Following a few hours of applying pastels, spraying, and drying, I have blocked in much of the facial detail on Maxixe. 

Watch here for further progress!


  1. Looking great, Karen! I need to find some of those jars and dental tools! :)

    1. Thank you, Kay! I purchased the jars at Michaels. They re excellent for pastels, but will only hold wet paint for a short time, because they are not 100% airtight. I will post the link for the micro brushes on Day 2 of NaNoPaiMo. :)

  2. Replies
    1. Thank you, Danielle! Did you join NaMoPaiMo? I hope you are painting again too!