Original Art Inspired by Michelle Armas

Happy Monday everybody!  I hope you had a wonderful weekend and didn’t miss us too much on Friday.  We’ve been busy bees and have a lot to share from the past few days.

Last week, we talked about how we love having original art in our home.  I mentioned how inspired I was by Michelle Armas‘ paintings, so over the weekend, I decided to pick up a paintbrush and create something similar for our home.

We stopped by Hobby Lobby and picked up a huge 30″x30″ square canvas to start this project.  I chose the one with the thickest profile because, in my opinion, the “fatter” the canvas the more professional it looks.  These babies go for $45.99 in the store, but we had a 40% off coupon and a $5 item to return, so the canvas ended up costing us about $25 after tax.

Easel Setup

I set up my cheapie wooden easel by the sliding glass door in our living room so I could paint in natural light.  Our wooden drafting table was the perfect place to set my computer with the inspiration painting pulled up, along with my various paints and brushes.

Inspiration Photo

Now, I will be the first to say that if this gorgeous painting I fell in love with had been in our budget at all, I never would have picked up a paintbrush.  We’re 100% in favor supporting the arts, but since we couldn’t justify spending $1400 on a piece of art right now, I tried my best to get the look for less.


It’s breathtaking, right?

I took a few tips from Jordan’s post on abstract art on her blog Oh Happy Day.  The best advice she gave was to make sure to build up the background of the painting before adding the details in the top layers.

I started with this wide brush from Stephen’s watercolor supplies and lots of watered down acrylics.

Background Brush

After shading in the background, I picked up a much smaller brush and used progressively more paint and less water until I was working with completely solid hues. Here’s the play by play of how I created our painting.

Paint1 Paint2

Above: I started with a white canvas and added watery blues and creams to the background.  Below: More watery yellow was added.  After the canvas dried, I used a smaller brush and swirled paint onto the canvas in the desired background colors.

Paint3 Paint4

To keep the painting from getting too dark, I also made sure to add portions of light blue and white on top.

Paint5 Paint6

Then it was time to go back over the painting with blues and greens.  Once I was finished with one hue, I’d add a bit of another color to it to change the shade.

Paint7 Paint9

Yellows and pinks were added to break up the deeper tones.

Paint10 Paint11

Once I’d shaded the blues, it was time for the pop of red from the inspiration painting.

Paint12 Paint13

It took patience to wait for the red to completely dry, but then it was time to add the final color, coral, on top of the red to create a 3-dimensional look.

Paint14 Paint15

After many many layers and dozens of paint colors (more than I’d expected, actually) here’s how my painting turned out.  I’m pretty sure it’s done, but I may go back with a few more colors after I stare at it for a little while longer. 🙂

MH Painting

The verdict?  I love it, and Stephen likes it too!  About 80% of the way through, I shut my computer and finished the painting with colors I wanted to use, where I wanted them to be.  I’m glad my painting didn’t turn out exactly like the original but that it still captures the same feeling (mine on the left, the original on the right).

MH Painting Armas_girlfriend_48x48_1400

This exercise definitely made me appreciate the talent it takes to create a beautiful work of art.  While Michelle’s paintings may look simple on first glance, there are so many elements working together underneath to create that serene image.  While I do love my painting, I totally see the talent that went into hers.  For now, this $25 solution will have to do, but maybe someday we’ll get to replace my painting with the real thing!

You may be wondering where we plan on hanging this new creation.  If any of you are guessing Guest Bathroom right now, you are right!  After asking your opinion on paint colors last week and having that gorgeous painting in my head all weekend, I think we’ve finally settled on a plan for finishing touches in our guest bath.

Bathroom Mood Board

We’ll stick with neutral walls and let the art and accessories steal the show.  You might see something similar to our master bathroom vanity in this room, with double sinks and fun mirrors and colorful towels rounding out the space.

We still need to find the perfect towels, lighting, and mirrors, so this plan could definitely change, but we’re very excited about the direction we’re heading!  What do you think?

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