View Full Version : Need Serious Help - WIP - Flip

07-04-2012, 04:03 PM


Title: Need Serious Help - WIP - Flip
Year Created:
Medium: Acrylic
Surface: Canvas
Dimension: about 22 x 38
Allow digital alterations?: Yes!

I was trying to capture the fun aspect here: my husband flipping my daughter upside down. Instead I ended up, so far, with the cheesy look. Really bad flesh tones and blends, no life in the skin - instead of glowing it looks hard and dead. I wanted her outfit to be that hot pink and fun, but instead it just competes with everything else. Small issues like his beard is not done and her eyes are crooked, I will fix.

How can I salvage this? Or should I just trash it and start all over? Really embarrassed by the whole thing, but I really need some crits and advice.

07-04-2012, 10:26 PM
Allison, this is not as bad as you are making out, in fact it is really good.
All the things you have said you want to do can still be done, but you sure as heck don't have to throw this out and start again.

Turn the canvas upside down and sort out the eyes and the skin tones, start brightening her outfit if you want to, I think some darks and lights would lift this without changing the whole colour scheme.

Drafting is good and the interest is definitely there, great composition.


07-05-2012, 07:07 AM
Embarrassed? You're rather hard on yourself. This is a wonderful and creative piece which employs skills that most of us could only dream about. If you trash it, I'll come to Denmark and throw a Carlsberg at you. Here are my ideas for improvement:
Why oh why are you using Acrylics for a subject like this? So hard to blend. It's possible to paint oils on top of acrylics and that's what I'd do to improve the painting.
I agree that your husband's face has some drafting problems but you can fix that.
I don't know that the pink outfit shows too much chroma but if so, glaze it down with transparent green. Not too much or it will go dark.
A little work is needed, I think, to show that the girl's pajama bottom covers her feet as well. You need to show the bend of the ankle.
The biggest problem is the flesh tones. She's orange. So...blue glazes. If too dark, bring in some pinkish tones for new opaque layers. Again, the glazing technique favors the use of oils but if you stick with acrylics, it's still a lot easier to set up new hues opaquely and you don't get a beer thrown at you.
Slightly darken the eye whites and teeth and you produce a more natural look. Just a bit cartoony now.

07-05-2012, 08:58 AM
I agree with all of the above Allison! Especially don't throw it out! It is delightfully cute and I wish I had the guts to do a portrait of my family! I truly love it and with the advice above I think you will have a charming memento of those moments that all too quickly end. They grow up so fast, how nice to freeze such a priceless moment forever. Keep working on it please..... !!! Cheers. Debs. =))

07-05-2012, 06:03 PM
I would NOT throw this out! I think it's very well done...I can see some issues with the face that have already been pointed out (teeth are so difficult to get right :S), but other than that I think the only thing that doesn't work for me is the skirt portion of your daughter's outfit. It seems a little flat and dark for the rest of it, but that is easily fixed with even some light highlights. The rest is great! I don't think her outfit competes with the rest of the work - I actually love the colour and especially the tights.

I was most impressed with your husbands hands though. It actually looks like he's holding her! Which is so difficult to do :S, great job. I find the areas where one person meets another particularly vexing. And her body looks like a little girl's body haha, I always end up with mini adults...eek.

Way too hard on yourself. It could use a few things, but it is so not worth throwing away.

07-06-2012, 01:31 AM
This is one of ''those'' paintings that are so hard to critique for the simple fact that the framework is so well executed. All most every thing is there it just needs that extra something. I would say shadows in a complementary form to add brilliance to outfit, and skin tones as stated by other artist. Once this is ready i bet it will find places on many a wall for decades to pass in your family. Nice job!:clap:

07-06-2012, 04:24 AM
I agree with all of the above Allison! Especially don't throw it out! It is delightfully cute and I wish I had the guts to do a portrait of my family! I truly love it and with the advice above I think you will have a charming memento of those moments that all too quickly end. They grow up so fast, how nice to freeze such a priceless moment forever. Keep working on it please..... !!! Cheers. Debs. =))

You still owe us a portrait Deb :)


07-06-2012, 10:21 AM
tgsloth said it all. Good advice. He always give a good critique. Oils work very well over acrylic and give you the ability to blend. However it is possible to glaze with acrylics, even do sectional glazes to get the effects that you want. I have done many acrylic paintings and have found that you can do almost anything with them if you work on it and learn how. To blend two colors with acrylics, I have found that you must mix both colors on your palate and them quickly apply them both and blend them while they are still workable. It can be done.

07-06-2012, 12:36 PM
I agree with the comments that you're too hard on yourself. Great capture of the pose and facial expression.

I like te colors, they are vibrant. The skin tones - I guess could be "better", but it fits the style of the piece, no? I'm no expert on skin tones, I hate it as a matter of fact.

You can blend acrylics. The one thing you have to be careful of is overworking the area you try to blend. Water, extender, or dry brushing are all ways of blending. And if you really want to try something for blending there's the Parrish (sp?) technique - paint interspersed with layers of gloss varnish. This allows for glazing/blending. It's a pain, but does work. I can blend to my satisfactions with water, extender or dry brush usually. If you like check out some of my work here, there's a great blue heron somewhere that shows one can blend acrylics to some degree. It's not like oils but with some practice it's possible to a degree.

Of course there's always oil, but I like acrylics because of my impatience.

Anyway, way too hard on yourself here. Excellent work, maybe some tweaks. But I like it. You've captured the most important part, in my mind, the girl's expression.

07-06-2012, 02:51 PM
Thanks everyone for constructive feedback. Very helpful. I made tons of changes. For some annoying reason the photo looks about the same. It's not, it is better, so I am glad I am sticking with it.

Yes, she was way too orange! I did not think making an overall glaze in blue was going to help, it would look streaky/stained. So I made new skin tones, adding a lot of blue, which helped a lot, and dry-brush scumbled new skin all over. Now she is a bit red and blotchy. Sunburnt on forehead? I will probably scumble again with some light, neutral skin tones, and add some extra blue or purple to skin color for shadows. I darkened eye whites, forgot the teeth. Added gums though and tried to soften lips. Teeth and tongue are hard!

I redid all the pink in dry brush layers - I added a lot of yellow to the pinks. I tried to soften up the wrinkles/folds in the clothes. Better, but I think there are too many wrinkles and they don't all look real. I need to add some greens to these shadows and I will try to subtly subdue or fade some of them.

I fixed his face, but maybe I need to soften and lighten him even more? I added to her hair, maybe it is still too stripy? The only thing I did not paint again was the jeans.

PS - I'm working in acrylics because I have zero experience in oils.

07-06-2012, 03:13 PM

Hang it on a wall, and walk away about 3 to 6 feet and turn around.


Do this at least 3 or 4 times.

This procedure seems to help me out when I am not happy, but not sure what to do. I begin to notice things that eluded me in the passion of painting.

report back to us as to what you are thinking

I are thunking this is really good, a little more work, but really close.
The girls hair is all evenly valued, highlites? shadows? Midtones?

same comment on her pants, blouse, his jeans, shirt.

You created shape and mass by shading and modeling his arms and her face/torso.
now give us the same illusion shape/mass by doing the same with clothing

this is where oils are easier than acrylics, but the experts in acrylics will guide you on how to do it in their medium.

I really like this, it is a great composition. by cropping his head you made her the COI, wise choice.
the vibrancy of pink against the background of his low key clothing and neutral walls balance her youthful hair and perfect teeth.

I likes it!


07-06-2012, 04:31 PM
I think it's all been said by the others, Allison, but I do like to state that you're creating a really good painting. It amazed me to read that your not comfortable with the pink clothes you painted on your daughter: to me that is one of the highlights!
If your still looking for improvement I would suggest to gain some depth in your husbands trousers, they look a bit flat.
But as said: a great painting!!

07-06-2012, 06:09 PM
You've got it going now Allison, I'm a stickler for acrylics too and your painting now will accept transparent glazes to add, change and brighten various parts of the portrait. I would add even darker shadows and brighter highlights throughout and maybe more detail in the hair. These can all be done with watered down tiny touches of colour dabbed on and scrubbed or blended with a dry bristle brush (try it first on some paper or card). It is far too good to give up on when a little finesse is all that is required for a wonderful family portrait.
You have inspired me now, I'll have to do one.


07-06-2012, 06:46 PM
My only real comment is that it looks more natural red and blotchy. To me. When you get flipped upside down your face is red and when you're excited and screaming, you turn red. Not to mention children tend to be redder than adults to begin with.
Obviously I don't know what the colors are like in the photo you are using as a reference, but as you well know skin tones in photos are often really far off. Her face might seem to red to you, but I think that a little redness and blotchiness makes it look more realistic.

I forgot to say that the painting is lovely so far.

07-08-2012, 04:57 PM
Wonderful advice to go by already and a great idea for a painting - it shows FUN. Those cute pink leggings are still showing a little flat on my screen. You have reworked the jeans nicely. Maybe a quick check on her nose? People are telling you this is a delight - and it IS :)

07-08-2012, 09:08 PM
I smile every time I look at this work - really nice


07-09-2012, 08:39 AM
Allison, you are capturing a moment, a memory, you already have the photo, you don't need another of the same. With the painting you have added that touch of playful fantasy, that colour that we all imagine when we think of children and their lighthearted enthusiasm and delight in the simple things we can provide for them. Things like riding on shoulders, piggy backs, flipping upside down, spinning around, hugs, security, safety and comfort. To me, you have captured this childish delight in your painting, this may not show in a photo, so you have showed us your experience and feelings on this through your painting, colour choices and wonderful expression. I love it and really don't think you need to do much more to it. It is wonderful. xxx <3 P.S. Andrew, I will have a portrait started soon..... just a bit more practice on cats and birds perhaps.... eek.... I am nervous about a portrait. :eek: :eek: :o

07-10-2012, 03:38 PM
Thanks everyone for all comments and suggestions. Final picture. I am done now. I made all changes - more depth in leggins (hard to see in photo - all the pinks look the same), soften her nose, soften all wrinkles, got rid of too much "stripes" in hair, softened his skin tones, lightened lips (some) and made yellow and blue teeth.... I did not change ankle - it is "missing" because her feet are digging into his shirt.
I am ready to walk away and start something else.

07-10-2012, 04:33 PM
Great job. It is very convincing! Form, composition, colours, material expression, a story, this work has it all.

Katie Black
07-11-2012, 10:42 PM
It's very good...I really like this.