PAINTING PEBBLES TUTORIAL PART 1

I have been painting sea pebbles for some time now and it is easier than I thought it would be. If you want to try but don’t know where to start, this is what I do, you can follow my steps or just use them as an inspiration to experiment on your own! So let’s start painting sea stones:

Choose your pebble.

I was able to collect, and still am, pebbles in Calabria, Italy by a marble rich coast. The pebbles I collected (and that some friends keep collecting and giving me) are smooth and rounded with some interesting white marble lines. They are already beautiful paperweights, if you ask me, but we want to up the game a notch. The best pebbles are those with a flatter side you can have them to rest upon. Other than this reccomendation you can choose a pebble as big as you like or as small as you like.

Clean your pebbles.

They are usually submerged or nearly submerged in salty water so the first thing to do is give them a nice rub to dissolve the salt and the sand particles that could have found a crevice where to rest. Soak them in tap water and don’t use soap (you simply don’t need it). Brush them with your hands or the first brush-like thing you can find. Toothbrushes are good.

I usually let them have a bath for a couple hours then fish them out of water, brush them with my hands to see if there is sand somewhere, wet them once more and then let them dry naturally. 

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Let’s paint your pebble!

Now that the pebbles are dry it is time to paint! I don’t prime my pebbles, for the same reason I don’t usually prime my woodboard. If you want a smooth surface to paint go and get yourself a sheet of paper 🙂 

I experimented with three different mediums, four if sketching using pencils counts as a separate medium: acrylic paint, watercolor, gouache. Each medium is good to be used and I haven’t found this much difficulty in covering my pebbles.

Acrylic paint is the easiest because of its drying speed and coverage but gouache is as nice and even a quality watercolor set can give you nice effects.

Watercolors were the first I tried, when I first went to Calabria for the Summer holidays. I used a Windsor&Newton travel set. As I am a popsurreal figurative artist I mainly paint portrait so I need a flesh color. I mixed my fleshtone using white and Burnt Sienna.

And now you are screaming: White watercolor! No way.

Wait a bit.

As pebbles are not white you can’t take advantage of the surface and just add water to the color you want to use as fleshtone. So I overcame the problem creating a less transparent color, and white does just this in watercolor sets, which was at the same time lighter.

Using acrylic paint you have a nice coverage, just use the mix you usually use for fleshtone. In acrylic I like to experiment with different recipes so, if you want to mix your own fleshtone you can try: Burnt Sienna and white, or English Red with Yellow Ochre and a pinch of Ultramarine Blue to an abudant dose of white.

As I paint what I see my fleshtone recipes are for let’s say Caucasian flesh, but there are plenty of tutorial for darker skintones. So go ahead and experiment and let me know what you come up with!

Gouache is somewhat like acrylic and the fleshtones recipes are the same. If you are like me and have only a base set you can have a nice skintone by mixing an orange with Magenta and Yellow adding Ultramarine Blue and, you guessed it, a ton of white. The gouache set I have doesn’t have many colors so my fleshtones are not perfect but I am getting used to the final result.

Sketch on your pebble!

We are now ready to sketch. My Calabria pebbles are grey so sketching with a regular pencil would be a problem. I indeed sketched some pebbles using HB pencil but then I had to move the pebbles to make the marks shine to see them clearly. A color pencil is the best choice. You can use a regular pencli or a watercolor pencil: the first give you a more stable sketch, the latter blend as you paint and can add a nice color variation, again, experiment and decide what is the effect you prefer.

I don’t plan too much when I paint on pebbles as it is something I like to see as a love project and not part of my actual job, so I don’t care much about neutralyzing the possibile barrel distortion you could have when drawing on a rounded surface. If you find it difficult painting on the more rounded side of your pebbles try on the flatter side first.

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#artinthebox in Nemi

You have until January 8 to see and buy one of the paintings I created for the “Art In The Box” group shop organized by Artinarte in the whimsical Palazzo Ruspoli, in Nemi, near Rome.

They are all on 30×30 cm canvasses and made using charcoal and acrylic colors. I made the charcoal sticks myself and they have a pleasant brownish tone. Are you interested in buying one, or more? Just mail me!

China is coming home

Another exhibition is now over and What do we know about China is coming home. It spent a month in a place so full of magic and history in Nemi for Artinarte group show dedicated to Women and what they/we can do. I was in such good company ❤ and the gallery was an awesome place!

Easter is now over: I ate, and drank, and laughed and tried to absorb as much sun as I could while filling my tummy tummy with yummy stuff me, my Mum and my sister made. Now I am back home, and as I want to share something more and something new, here you are a new small digital-gouache painting. I have this fascinationa for kitchenware and, wandering through my Pinterest feed I was suggested this set of spoons. They were way too cute, too irregular and too heartwarming not to paint them. I really hope Heather doesn’t mind if I used some of her amazing products as my model.

cucchiaini_gouache_Painter_Valeria Draws_Valeria Poropat_Etsy

I have also received a really exciting mail from Adina, the Canadian writer I am working with on her children book. I sent her the first spread with a possible color scheme and style, she answered me telling me how thrilled she was and that I nailed, and went beyond, what she was imagining. Obviously I can’t still show you anything but I will soon, promise.

And, since March is coming to an end, here you are the April desktop calendar, don’t be a fool and download it!

april

A Klimt-esque portrait and an exhibition in the heart of Rome

It’s been some months now: people appreciate my style, my happy and childlike portraits and ask me to paint portraits to give as presents. It’s always such a honor to be involved in something so intimate as a gift and I really enjoy the process. This time I’m here to show you a small (dimension-wise) commission for a birthday present.

I was given a couple photos of the person and started playing around with a variety of ideas. Then, I kind of realized the person reminded me of Klimt’s images and I created a colorful and lushious background for her (‘cuz she’s a she 🙂 ). I was asked to paint something small, because, you know, money does not grow on trees but my idea would look horrible. Client was asked if I could use something bigger, at no additional cost obviously, and the result was exactly what I wanted and, I was told, was a delightful surprise.

klimt and me Valeria Poropat commissioned birthday present

Another mission accomplished! Proudproud me.

Talking about the exhibition: I have this series made of five paintings, exploring the relationship between Man and Nature and never got myself around to finish the last painting in the series. But the other paintings are finished and look good! (modest, uh?) so I put one of them on display in an exhibition in Rome, giving it a good company, as you can see from the picture down here.

Selezione Triennale Il Trittico Arte Contemporanea Spazio Macsi Valeria Poropat Roma.jpg

This exhibition is now over but Cosa Sappiamo Della Cina will be in Nemi in March: let’s say I want to push things a little and spread the word about my work.

Oh! One last note, I received a super sweet e-mail from a writer asking me if I was interested in illustrating her children rhyming book and I agreed immediately. We’re in an early stage but I really can’t wait to show you something!

2015 Christmas commissions and a new Year’s gift for you!

This year I was commissioned 4 portraits as Christmas gifts. I was asked to paint an Italian Language teacher, a Math teacher and two families, and it was, as always, a really funny and really interesting experience.

For the teachers I used 12x17cm wood panels and went for a vintage feeling inspired by old photographs and rounded frames like those you see in Western movies with the young teacher wearing a brown skirt and a white blouse and with her hair neatly combed around her face.

The family portraits, both on 50×50 cm wood panels, were a lot easier and a lot more “contemporary” but I was asked to add a fake frame along the border and I have to admit it really gives the painting a more polished look. But feel free to judge for yourselves!

And now, as I promised, a little gift for your desktop: a free downloadable desktop January calendar for 2016! I used one of the patterns I created during my failed attempt at following the #100dayproject. The file is 1366×768 pixels.

free january 2016 desktop calendar

I am exploring my more illustrative self(and honing my digital skills along the way) and trying to develop a professional portfolio. I am planning on painting illustrations inspired by the upcoming issues of TaprootMagazine. I am going backward and started with the theme they will use on the winter 2016/2017 issue. The theme is “SHARE” and this is my take:

taprootmagazine share illustration valeria poropat valeria draws

Etsy Spring Sale

While I work on a new series of small original terrarium paintings, I’m having a Spring Sale in my Etsy Shop running from April 1 to April 4.

You can buy anything in my shop with a 30% discount using “APRILSHOWER30” coupon code.

reading room teaser summer patio teaser greenhouse  teaser kitchen teaser

 

 

 

And I also created a bunch of funny stickers as a little bonus with every purchase!! Come by and grab your favorite painting or print!

How to grow a terrarium

If you want to grow a terrarium there is an easy way to do it: buy one of my new little original paintings and carry Spring with you all year long! The first three terrarium are now available here.

terrarium series_01

I am now writing you from my new home where I finally got the time to open my art supplies boxes, sort them out and find that I had a bunch of leftovers from another series. I am fond of terrarium and decided to use some of the leftovers to create a little greenhouse-like series, inventing my own plants.

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Since I cannot keep on painting and drawing for myself, due to lack of space, I am selling these in my Etsy Shop and if you want to see the whole series at the same time to decide which one you like best here it is a little freebie for your desktop:

wallpaper_terrariumI will upload the other paintings in a few days! See you soon

Honoring Andy Warhol and Pop Culture

For the last two weekends I painted a dustbin in a known mall in Rome, ROMAEST.

I haven’t gone nuts: I was contacted by an art association to take part in a project to paint an homage to Andy Warhol. They wanted to bring Pop Art in the place that best represent Pop Culture, a crowded mall. There is an ongoing Andy Warhol exhibition which will end around the end of the month.

I was asked to create a painting which could depict Rome, the city, its history, its icons, in a Pop style. I thought a lot and explored many ideas until I found something satisfactory. This is the final sketch and from left to right you have: the Gazometro, the Roman She-Wolf, the Sanpietrini and Anita Ekberg (who recently passed away so this ends up being an homage to a great woman as well).

a Pop of Rome sketch

 

During the first weekend I worked on the Sanpietrini and sketched everything. I was, I think, the only one without some pieces of paper to look at and the reason is that I am cooler… nope… the reason is that I lost the sketch as I got to the mall.a Pop of Rome sanpietrini

We were given the possibility to take one of our painting with up and I chose Creatures of Snow for this first weekend. Children were in awe and intrigued by the image. Adults and adolescents were much more critical (and a bit cynical) but I tried not to listen to them as they mutter “Oh, I could do it better” passing me by as if I could not listen to them behind that mighty plastic chain…a Pop of Rome She-Wolf  Anita

I had not planned which colors to use ( I seldom do) and improvised as I painted but I believe the final result is stylish and… Pop. We were asked to create a list of what we needed to paint and I put in there the colors I am most comfortable using and the ones I knew could grant me the freedom I needed so I asked for black, white, Sienna, primary red/blu and yellow, a reddish ocher a Pop of Rome finished 1

a pop of Rome finished 2

a Pop of Rome finished 3I met some interesting people but kept quietly painting by myself most of the time. My parents, sister, uncles and aunts and some dear friends came to see me and give a bit of much needed support.

In the end this is an experience I was so scared at the beginning but missed sorely when I was told I could go because time was up.

Working on stereotypes

I started working on “Cosa sappiamo della Cina” (What we know about China) last year. I was so inspired I worked on it frantically for the first few weeks then life decided I had other things to work on and the painting stood there, unfinished, ugly, meaningless. Until a few days ago when I finally found the courage I needed to work on something which had been languishing in my room for so long. And it clicked. Magic sparked and I felt as if someone sucked the image out of my brain (no zombies involved) and onto the wood board.

cosa sappiamo della Cina WIP 01
When I started working on this big board (it’s the twin sister of Piccole Inutilità Quotidiane‘s board) I thought it would be cool to have a layer made entirely of Chinese newspapers. It turned out they don’t sell you their newspaper and even tell you lies not to. Did I experimented some sort of racism? Oh well, the Internet helped me once again and I found a good place where I could download magazines pages, print them and paste them on the board.

cosa sappiamo della Cina WIP 02After messing around with paper and glue here it was the board ready to be painted.

cosa sappiamo della Cina WIP 03cosa sappiamo della Cina WIP 04cosa sappiamo della Cina WIP 05cosa sappiamo della Cina WIP 06My two girls had to represent some sort of crossover between our perception of “China” and what they really do, wear, and look like in China. That’s why you see the rich red dress of the upper girl and the rigid pose of the lower girl. On the background there are bicycle’s wheels because, you know, everybody in China rides a bike. Or do them?

Then, if you look closer you’ll see that the magazine pages are exactly like the beauty mags you’d find anywhere else. The girl in the red dress wears her hair short and the lower one is wearing a rich pink lip gloss. It was an exercise on stereotypes, on what it is supposed to be and what it really is. And China could be any place, time, or person. We’re all someone else’s China.

cosa sappiamo della Cina