Sugar Skull Girl Acrylic Painting on Cardboard

My newest acrylic painting is a portrait of La Calavera Catrina or a sugar skull girl. Catrina, a skeleton woman dressed in nice clothes, is the icon for the Mexican holiday, Day of the Dead (Día de Muertos). Read on to learn about the painting process or watch the time lapse video.

My newest acrylic painting is a portrait of La Calavera Catrina or a sugar skull girl. Catrina, a skeleton woman dressed in nice clothes, is the icon for the Mexican holiday, Day of the Dead (Día de Muertos). José Guadalupe Posada's original La Calavera Catrina was a satire of indigenous upper class Mexican people who imitated European style and made their skin look white with makeup, denying their own cultural heritage. Read on to learn about the painting process or watch the time lapse video.


Painting Process 

My newest acrylic painting is a portrait of La Calavera Catrina or a sugar skull girl. Catrina, a skeleton woman dressed in nice clothes, is the icon for the Mexican holiday, Day of the Dead (Día de Muertos). Read on to learn about the painting process or watch the time lapse video.

I gathered some of my inspirations on a hidden Pinterest board to keep them in one place. My first sketches were inspired by Frida Kahlo's paintings and the Catrina figurines made by Helena Nares. I wanted my Catrina to have a big headpiece and a flower bouquet. I also wanted to use strong, bright colors, because it's a Mexican festival. My color scheme was inspired by The Book of Life. I was going for a double complementary color scheme: red and green, orange and a little bit of blue.


My newest acrylic painting is a portrait of La Calavera Catrina or a sugar skull girl. Catrina, a skeleton woman dressed in nice clothes, is the icon for the Mexican holiday, Day of the Dead (Día de Muertos). Read on to learn about the painting process or watch the time lapse video.

I drew a real size sketch on grid paper using the grid method and a reference photo for the pose. I decided to paint on cardboard, it's the backboard of a used paper block. I primed it with gesso, two coats, one horizontally and one vertically. Then I painted and orange gradient background with a sponge. To make a vibrant orange, I mixed a bit of cadmium red with yellow. I first tried crimson red with yellow and it made a muddy orange.

My newest acrylic painting is a portrait of La Calavera Catrina or a sugar skull girl. Catrina, a skeleton woman dressed in nice clothes, is the icon for the Mexican holiday, Day of the Dead (Día de Muertos). Read on to learn about the painting process or watch the time lapse video.

I transferred the outlines of the sketch onto the cardboard with graphite transfer paper and painted the figure white. Then I transferred the details onto the white surface. This might seem like a lot of extra work to first paint the whole white surface orange and then paint a lot of it white again, but this way I got a nice, clean background. It would be harder to paint a gradient around the figure afterwards. This time I had some issues with the graphite transfer paper smudging the painting. The first ballpoint pen transfer turned out really dark so I used a softer pen for the second transfer.
My newest acrylic painting is a portrait of La Calavera Catrina or a sugar skull girl. Catrina, a skeleton woman dressed in nice clothes, is the icon for the Mexican holiday, Day of the Dead (Día de Muertos). Read on to learn about the painting process or watch the time lapse video.

I painted larger areas with paint brushed meant for acrylics, but for the details I used softer, smaller watercolor brushes (synthetic nylon brushes). To make the greens and reds more opaque, I mixed in some white. 

My newest acrylic painting is a portrait of La Calavera Catrina or a sugar skull girl. Catrina, a skeleton woman dressed in nice clothes, is the icon for the Mexican holiday, Day of the Dead (Día de Muertos). Read on to learn about the painting process or watch the time lapse video.


This painting took me a few days to make starting from painting the background and transferring the sketch (I already had the sketch done and colors somewhat planned out beforehand). I tried to incorporate things I'm learning in Leilani Joy's art class The Art School Express: A Fast Track to a Pro Art Portfolio, such as the color scheme I mentioned earlier. I was also going for a strong, symmetrical composition. And I'm really happy with the result. It's not perfect, but when I compare it to my past paintings, I can see the improvement.
My newest acrylic painting is a portrait of La Calavera Catrina or a sugar skull girl. Catrina, a skeleton woman dressed in nice clothes, is the icon for the Mexican holiday, Day of the Dead (Día de Muertos). Read on to learn about the painting process or watch the time lapse video.

Catrina is available as a coloring page in my Etsy shop and as a framed art print and other merchandise in Redbubble.

My newest acrylic painting is a portrait of La Calavera Catrina or a sugar skull girl. Catrina, a skeleton woman dressed in nice clothes, is the icon for the Mexican holiday, Day of the Dead (Día de Muertos). Read on to learn about the painting process or watch the time lapse video.

¡Felíz Día de Muertos!




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