Our Painted Lives Journey 1

Hiya folks, I was introduced recently by a friend to a youtube channel Our Painted Lives featuring the creative renderings of the ever inspiring duo Dani and Nicolas. Though online daily painting challenges are a dime a dozen online, the particular challenges Nicolas focuses on, reflect skills I've really been wanting to improve on in my own work for sometime.
It's perfect timing for me to continue honing my skills while still enabling me to concentrate my real creative thought and effort in the larger conceptual painting I'm currently working on as well..

Now unlike Nicolas, I'll be doing these about every other day or so instead of 5 days a week, as I work on my main art as well..


In his 1st week Nicolas concentrated on 5 portraits, all in very different lighting conditions.. 
Now I must say, I usually take my time when it comes to portraits, so completing one within a day would pose a challenge in itself for me. (which as you'll see I didn't quite meet on some days).

To save time sourcing reference images, I popped over to Unsplash (a great site for open source photos) and found quite a few awesome portrait pics with varying lighting conditions.. These images were then cropped to suit my compositional needs.

Similar to Nicholas (who paints on primed Moleskine sketchbook paper)
 I'll be painting on clear acrylic primed 150gsm acid free cartridge paper. This really helps take a lot of the pressure off creating a successful painting, and maintains focus on the act of practice.

Palette used for most days. (except day 4 when a limited zorn palette was used)
Titanium White, Lemon Yellow, Yellow Ocher, Cadmium Red, Permanent Alizarin Crimson, French Ultramarine, Raw Umber (& Cobalt Blue - only used on 5th day). 
A few drops of Liquin was added to the Titanium and Alizarin to speed up drying.

Day 1
A far cry from how fast Nicolas paints (completing a piece within 4-6 hours I believe), this piece took me 16 straight hours, as I was determined to complete it alla prima.. :/ 
(Amazing ref image by Caique Silva on Unsplash)

I couldn't really find a bleached fluorescent lighted portrait, so settled on this warmer artificial lighting.

Portrait Oil Painting
Week 1 Day 1
Size: 8.15 x 5.8 Inches

Day 2
Differing from Nicolas's green light on day 2, I opted for this pervasive blood red light. Chucking the titanium white & yellow ocher out, to keep the hues strong and vibrant. Completed in about 7 hours. 
(Great ref image by Ernest Brillo on Unsplash)

Week 1 Day 2
Size: 5.8 x 8.15 Inches

Day 3
Loved the striking image by Duncan Shaffer on Unsplash, that I used as ref for the 3rd day challenge, painting strong cast light. It took about 7 hours split between two days unfortunately. 

I took my time on rendering the complicated preliminary underpainting (about 2 hours) as nothing can save a piece whos bones aren't strong. In the end this is the only thing that really holds this piece together, as the final painted strokes look rushed and insensitive I feel..

Week 1 Day 3
Size: 8 x 5 Inches

Day 4 (Zorn Palette)
Like Nicolas I used a limited zorn palette of Yellow Ocher, Cad Red, Ivory Black and Titanium White here. This backlite piece was painted referencing Alev Takil great photo on Unsplash.

Unfortunately I overworked the face a bit much and should have done only minimal adjustments to define the eyes after the first pass (shown in the second WIP image). 

Even though much larger than the previous ones (and probably because of the minimal palette) I was able to complete it within 7 hours as well..

Week 1 Day 4
Size: 10 x 18 Inches

Day 5
Was pretty happy with how my brushstrokes were kept fresh, sure and minimal in rendering the final portrait of the week (after the reminder on day 4!). Decided to add a cobalt blue for this overpowering bleached flat lighted portrait. Beautiful ref image by Kelly Searle on Unsplash. Completed within 7 hours..

Unlike the previous portraits where I used synthetic flats and filberts, I decided to go for my hog bristles this time, thus the more pronounced ridged strokes, which I rather like..

Week 1 Day 5
Size: 8 x 5 Inches

This week was the perfect challenge for me, with just enough breadth to really stretch beyond my comfort zone while still keeping it enjoyably exciting.. :)

If you're looking for a great source of inspirational art practice videos, I'd fully recommend heading over to Dani & Nicolas's Our Painted Lives youtube channel as well!..

Thanks for the visit guys!... :)

p.s. for those interested, my newsletter subscribers are the first to be informed when new works are available for purchase.


  1. Hi Jacqueline, this site is lovely. Explaining the stages, themes, compositions and brushstrokes. Looked at Kelly’s work. The 'forlornity' of her subject is replicated beautifully.

    1. Hi Tommy!.. Thank you so much!. That's the best complement to hear, that the disposition of the model has come through.. :D


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