How to create personalized hand-painted Christmas ornaments

This year I created some hand-painted Christmas ornaments for friends. These are simple to create, and in this post, I will share how you can also create a personalized gift for friends and family. Below is a photo of a tree with 3 dog portraits that I painted for a friend.

To create the ornaments, this is what I did:

  1. I purchased white Christmas ornaments on Amazon. These are fairly cheap, and I have used both smooth and sparkly Christmas balls; both work well.
  2. I purchased a set of Folk Art enamels, which work very well; they were developed for use on any surface, including glass. What I like is that they are very mixable (like acrylics), and are water soluble, but when dry, they are permanent. I choose to let my ornaments air dry (the recommended time is three weeks) but they can also be oven-dried (I chose not to go that route, due to problems with whites turning yellow in the past).
  3. I then asked my friend for a photo (a headshot) of her adorable dogs. I didn’t tell her why I wanted them, of course.
  4. I then painted the dogs, one on each ornament, mixing the colors just as I would for any other portrait. After painting each one, I set them up in an empty egg crate to dry well, for several days. They initially will be dry to touch in just a few hours, but the paint needs more time to set.

That’s it. After another week, I packed them with some bubble wrap, and shipped them to my friend. As you can see in the photo above, they ended up looking nice on her tree.

I have also painted ornaments with wild birds on them, and they ship well. I even packed some in my suitcase when I flew to another city, to bring to some friends who are bird lovers. the ornaments did fine, with no special packing other than being wrapped in one of my sweaters.

The ornaments are simple to make, and are a nice, personalized gift for the holidays!

How to paint a cat portrait: lesson 3

Today I added more detail to the fur and face. There is still more work to do, but its’ starting to look a lot like this beautiful cat. I added highlights with cadmium yellow, yellow ochre; and dark tones into the fur with burnt umber and ultramarine blue mixed, with spots of burnt sienna. I enlarged the ears, since they were larger than I first realized.

How to Paint a Cat Portrait: Lesson 2

The earlier post was from what I did yesterday. Today, I added some more details, worked on the face and eyes a bit more, and refined the face markings.

I also worked on the background, and the body a bit more, using cadmium yellow, burnt sienna, lemon yellow, alizarin crimson, raw umber, and ultramarine blue for the fur. This is still really rough, but is starting to look like the cat (and yes, I got rid of the blobs of brown paint on the lower body!).

Over the next few days, I will be working on the fur details, now that the body is blocked in. This means using a small brush, and going over the areas I have started. I will share how this turns out in a few days.

How to Paint a Cat Portrait : Lesson 1

I am currently painting a cat portrait for a friend of mine. In the next few blogs, I will share the process (she had given permission for me to do this).

I painted the canvas (11 X 15″) with burnt umber and raw umber mixed, then began picking out the lights and leaving the darks (above). This was to block in the main values.

Next, I worked on the background a bit. Since the cat has a lot of red in its fur, I decided to go with a green/blue mix (ultramarine blue, sap green, with some titanium white).

I also started adding some of the golden tones for the fur highlights (cadmium yellow), and mid-values (burnt sienna) on the body, and started work on the face with these same colors. The paint is still wet, so there is a lot of shine in this photo, but it shows the beginning stage of this portrait. Next, I will be working on more detail (in a future post).