To be honest, I haven’t produced a painting that I really LOVE in a while.  The last was probably this, of my friend Alyssa:

full sheet (22x30), May 2010

There are things I don’t like about it, to be sure – the background, for example, even though there’s only a little corner of it.  The figure looks like a cutout against it; it looks almost like an afterthought.  I prefer when all of the sections of the painting melt into each other.

I think I like this one, though.  Too often, I get more excited about the figure than I should, and I ignore the rest of the work until the paint has dried and  it’s too late to achieve that unification.  Even though I couldn’t wait to paint Emily and Isaac (my sister and her pet conure), I forced myself to lay the background wash in first.  I could have done a better job, but I’m still okay with how it came out.  Here’s the full version:

(roughly) half sheet (11x15), November 2010

And here’s the original photo, taken Halloween of 2009.

The one thing I’m really not satisfied with in the painting is the shirt, but that’s because I’m afraid of drapery and I wasn’t careful enough with it.  It still reads as clothing, though, and that’s the important part.  I still prefer it cropped, though.  I’d probably crop it to something like this:

I think I captured her trademark Emily smirk pretty well, though, and that was the most important part.  And the light on the left side of her face – I love that.  It’s weird how often the best parts of a watercolor are the sections you leave unpainted.  I’m okay with it.

Side note: I’m thinking of selling some of my paintings.  Thoughts?


All images copyright Allison Wachtel 2010.


fairy dust


Sometimes, when a friend of mine is having a bad day, I’ll draw her a silly little sketch of a Disney character, take a picture, and post it on her Facebook wall.  I’m not going to lie, they kind of suck, but it’s fun and it makes us both smile.  I didn’t think it was a big deal until one of my bosses walked in and saw one of the sketches sitting on my desk.

enough for a smile, at least

He happens to have little twin girls (for whom I have a soft spot), and he told me how much they would love  it if he just brought home pictures of my sketches.  But there was no way I was leaving it at a couple of iPhone photos of characters scribbled on notebook paper.

who doesn't like swirly dresses...

...and fairy dust?

I had so much fun with these.  If his girls get half as much enjoyment out of them as I did out of the painting process, I think my job here  is done.

And now, I’m sick, and I need to get back to bed.  Check back, though – there’s a ton of delicious, chocolatey, buttery, bacon-y goodness coming your way.

Images © Allison Wachtel 2010

dancing barefoot


I have Mila Kunis to thank for this painting.


I wish I had a better camera.


If anyone doesn’t know by now, I have a major bit of a girl crush on Mila Kunis (also Natalie Portman, but that’s another story).  The reference photo for this painting was so elegant and fresh, and the light was beautiful, and I suck at drapery, and oh look, drapery!

Like pretty much all of my paintings, I don’t know how I feel about it, though.  I should have started with some kind of background, but I was so excited about the figure that I completely threw that aside.  I think the drapery actually came out okay – much looser than I usually end up with (I’m scared of drapery), and it still reads decently as fabric.

It feels unfinished, but I don’t want to risk really messing it up by adding a background.  I’m not totally sure if the stark white thing works, but it’ll have to for now.  The bummer about watercolor is that it’s hard to unify these major elements (background and foreground or figure, for example) if you paint them at separate times.  On the plus side, though, my brushwork has gotten a lot looser and more relaxed – not only have I kind of come to terms with the whole relinquishing control bit, but I feel like I’m able to work with the water now instead of just letting it do its thing.  I’m done analyzing, though.  Now I need more inspiration…

Images © Allison Wachtel, 2010.

Venezia chiama


This painting is out of the norm for me; for a long time, I stuck with portraits.  Faces fascinate me.  After seeing a friend’s beautiful piece of Venice, though, I got seduced by the light  and had to give it a shot myself.


I’m not sure how I feel about this one.  I had some trouble deciding  what to include – certain things, like the backdrop of picturesque and crumbling buildings in my reference material, work in the photograph but will completely mess up a painting.  I ended up only using the boat with the figures and creating a suggestion of some of the poles and railings that were in the original.  If I’d been able to trace any of it, I might have tried to put in some of the architecture, but I don’t trust myself with that!  I also had some trouble with the colors – I had originally wanted the coloring of the water to be more faithful to the photo, with more dark blues, but the light of the quinacridone gold was too enticing.  I ended up having to lift a fair amount of ultramarine that I’d dropped into the left side and was just sitting there, looking awkward.  Live and learn.

So it’s not perfect, but it makes me want to be on that boat, and for the moment, that’s okay with me.

Image © Allison Wachtel 2010.