Saturday, July 28, 2012

Give a monkey a paintbrush and eventually he will paint a masterpiece (so you can too)

photo by Etolane on Flickr
Santa keeps a list.

I keep a list too, except my list is titled "People who will appreciate a handmade gift." I don't fault people who don't like handmade. However, it stinks finding out that trait right after you've spent countless hours knitting/sewing/painting them a gift.

I'm ashamed to admit that I have lied when asked, "Did you make that?" because my giftee likes the idea I went to a craft show and spent money on her more than she likes the idea that I spent time on her. Sometimes I even leave the price tag on (when I'm feeling particularly annoyed with gift exchange rules). Yes, I'm petty.

However, here's an idea even I would give to a hardcore consumer. Go buy a fancy frame (on sale) and let's get started making a Tempera Resist Portrait.

You can follow the original instructions here. You first need to know what your giftee loves. Family, children, pets, himself...? All these subjects are ripe for a personalized portrait. Choose a photo to immortalize, but keep in mind that the more simple and clean the background of the photo, the better your result.


Open your photo in a photo editing program and change it to black and white using the threshold adjustment.

Print out the black and white photo to fit your frame. Scribble on the back with pencil, and then flip the paper over and trace the black edges onto a piece of watercolor paper. The scribbled pencil acts like graphite paper and transfers the markings to the new paper.

Paint thinned white tempera paint in the areas you want to resist the acrylic paint wash. Let dry completely before moving to the next step. Don't worry about being too precise with the paint.

Wash over the dried tempera with an acrylic paint wash. When the wash is dry, rinse the watercolor paper under running water and rub away the tempera. 

Frame the dried portrait in your fancy frame and wrap it up for Christmas. This portrait (titled "Monkey Boy") is going to my brother.

Don't forget to sign your name.

I did my nephew's portrait in one afternoon. My brother will love his son dressed like a monkey in his favorite hockey team's color.

Any crafty gift horror stories out there?


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