Tutorial: Painting Abstract Faces

“Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius
and it's better to be absolutely ridiculous
than absolutely boring.”
Marilyn Monroe

In this tutorial, we will draw, or rather paint, a delightfully imperfect face.

First, a disclaimer. This is such a cool technique that I wanted to share it with you guys -- even though it is vintage Daisy Yellow content in terms of video/sound quality! Originally filmed in 2012 as part of my early workshop called The Museum of Simple Things, where we painted wild journal pages in an altered book. In the future I'd love to recreate this with better tech {my workshop videos have come a long way!!!} but I hope this sparks some ideas for those Golden High Flow acrylics in your stash. 

I hope you'll give this a try - as you can see, my results are amusing and quirky and playful; good for a laugh! Let me know what you think! Share your work in the Daisy Yellow FB group!

You'll need the following materials:

  • Black marker and an index card or small journal for sketch practice.
  • A book or pages torn from a book, painted in any abstract fashion with acrylic paint. Be sure that it is nice and dry before painting the face on the page.
  • Golden High Flow Acrylic Paint, 2-3 colors including one dark color such as black, payne's gray or sepia,  for the facial details.
  • Paper towels.
  • Optional: Golden Airbrush Medium. If you don't have this on hand, use a gentle spritz with water instead for comparable results. 
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Before you paint a face with acrylics, practice drawing faces to get familiar with the muscle movements needed to make a face. 

On your index card, draw 20 quick faces. Drawing quick faces is a great way to prepare to paint faces in your journal because you will want to get comfortable with the movements you ned to make a face. It's a really super simple face. Draw enough faces so that it starts to feel repetitive! Love that muscle memory!

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Here's a fun idea for this page!

Write a list to surround the painted face. In this altered hardback, I painted the background with orange and red acrylics {thus creating a wickedly bright vermillion} and then painted a girl in black, white and green. When her face was dry, I wrote a list of songs using a white marker with a reference to girls or girls' names in the title! You can always use the content of your imagery as a self-prompt! 

The process is described in the video!

a) Before you start, take a deep breath and relax your shoulders. You will need to work quickly to draw the girl. If you linger, the paint will puddle and pool. The sketch practice gets you in the mood and then you can "draw" with the paint bottle closed, then finally with the paint bottle open! If you mess up, and get a puddle, you know what to do! Start again! It will take some practice! 

b) Open the nozzle of the darkest color of High Flow acrylics just enough so that paint flows out. Draw the nose and eyes. Simple outlines, simple arm movements. 

c) Draw wavy hair or curly hair in a few different colors of paint. It's OK if they intermingle. 

d) Add the rest of the details with the dark color you used for the eyes and nose.

e) Optional --> Add a gentle spritz of thinned Airbrush Medium or water mixed with a few drops of High Flow or Fluid acrylic paint. That simply gives the page some more color.



In the video, I'm working in a hardback book; you can start this technique on a background of dry acrylic paint if you wish. It adds interest and texture to the end result. After you paint the face you can add more color, collage elements, a list, etc.