Patchwork Quilt Family Portrait

I can’t take credit for this idea; I saw it in a home style magazine many, many years ago. I have wanted (needed 😉 ) a family portrait for some time.


So how did I  manage to acquire this wonderful piece of art? Most of my family lives nearby and having a get-together or impromptu cookout is not unusual. My plan was to invite everyone over to eat, drink and to paint their own portrait square. Of course, the majority response was uncomfortable, insecure and a lot of, “I can’t paint!”


Not to be deterred, I purchased and gessoed a 25″x25″ (63.5cm) stretched canvas using a 50% off coupon. The canvas was divided into a 25-square grid, measuring 5″ (12.5cm) each. I gathered my acrylic craft paints and brushes. I was ready to start  the paint party!



We took turns pencil drawing an oval for the face, lightly sketching in the eyes, nose, mouth and ears. Photos and a hand mirror were used for guidance. And wine. Lots of wine (soda for the under aged). Did I tell you how vocal my family is? Lots of advice. Lots of critiques. Lots of laughter. Lots of would-be VanGoghs, Matisses and O’Keefes. 😀


Next, the background was painted anyway they wished. Then, the skin tones were painted. Then, the eyes. Then, the hair and clothing. We “layered” the paint – painting what “appears” to be underneath first.


In the end, I *think* the experience was enjoyable. When needed, I made suggestions and provided assistance. Even the first time painters caught their own essence. Of course, we painted the portraits of those who are no longer here: my grandparents, my dad, brother, brother-in-law and nephew. The painting wasn’t completed in one day. I hung it on the wall anyway and took it down when someone wanted to paint.



I love the colors, the individual styles and techniques. This painting is like a patchwork quilt, providing comfort and warmth. It was a great experience. This family portrait was of “my side” of the family. Now, I think we need to do my husband’s side. 😉

Have a good week! — Joanne

2 thoughts on “Patchwork Quilt Family Portrait

  1. Joanne,
    Those people could all paint! They must have received the artist gene because I think they are all GOOD! It is amazing. Do they look like the people represented?

  2. Hi Ginene,
    I do think everyone caught some essence of their own self. I taught art at the elementary/middle school level for 20+ years and found that given encouragement and direction just about anyone can paint. (It’s really sad to observe the ‘joie de vivre’ of 5-year olds disappear by the time they’re preteens). Believe me, it took a LOT of wheedling and encouragement – and I think I mentioned wine ;). So, thanks for the compliment…I’ll pass it along to all the other arteeests!

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