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Painting Portraits & Taking Chances

Endings And Beginnings. 9×12″ On paper. Available here.
Click here to see the original paintings available in my online shop.


Lately I have been painting portraits.

I wanted to try and create a series of self-portraits. I’ve been really drawn to features, expressions and faces in particular, so I intended the face in this piece to really stand out.

Since this was a new thing I was trying in my artwork, of course, I had trouble getting down on paper the image I had in my head.

It never works for me. I always need to start with an idea and just go. I can’t stay glued to the image in my head or my own creativity just cannot flow. But still, I try.

And so, I got stuck with this piece.

I got so focused on trying to get her face right, that I completely lost the raw emotion I wanted to express.

To get back to liking my painting again, I went back to using my favorite colors. In that moment, they were emerald green and pyrole red.

I also went back to the technique I was having the most fun with (which was not painting faces). Instead, I loved etching into the oil paint with my bamboo writing stick.

So, I scribbled and wrote words, then when I didn’t like the look but had fun with the process, I redid it and tried again.

Going back to what I was having the most fun with and knew that I liked, allowed me to finally pull this painting together. And, I learned a lot along the way.

What do you do when you get stuck?

This time of year always gets me thinking about what I’d like to let go of and what I’d love to see more of in my life. I’ll be sure to look for your suggestions in the comments of this post.

Happy painting!

Juliette Crane

Ps. If you’re looking to let go and loosen up in your artwork, check out my online painting courses here.

In Happy Painting – Mini Course, we really focus on developing your own style in five mixed media painting projects.


  1. Sadly, when I get stuck I usually walk away for a few days. I LOVE the two classes I’m taking from you and am feeling more confident when I paint. I find that after a few days away, I actually like where I am on a painting much better.

    • that’s so good to hear, Diane. so happy you’re enjoying my classes. it always helps me to start something new too… it works kind of like walking away, where it gives me a fresh perspective. then when i come back to a piece, i usually see it differently and am not so attached, so im not as afraid to move forward with it and maybe make a mistake 🙂

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