Painting an oil miniature (ACEO)

I thought I'd share with you the process of creating a miniature oil painting.

So far all of my miniature oil paintings have conformed to the standard ACEO measurements. So to begin with I must explain what an ACEO is...

What is an ACEO?

ACEO stands for Art Card Editions and Originals. They can be created using any medium at all - the only stipulation is that they measure 2.5 inches by 3.5 inches. ACEOs are highly collectible and can be displayed on a mini-easel

or in a small photo frame. Many collectors display their collections in a photograph album on the coffee table, where they can be admired by visitors and readily enjoyed by the owner every day.

How I create my ACEOs using oil paints

To begin with I cut out some canvas paper to the required size of 2.5 inches x 3.5 inches. 

Next I tape my paper to a board. I use the back of an old watercolour pad as it is nice and light for lifting and moving around as I work, and tape on the back using a rolled piece of masking tape. Sometimes I tape round the edges instead, which will leave a white border that can look nice.

Then starting at the top left (because I am right handed), I begin to paint.

I invariably begin with a base layer. For this one I wiped blue oil paint diluted with Liquin across the paper with a rag and then lifted my flower petals using Zest-It Solvent.

Liquin is a medium for mixing with your oil paints. Add a small amount to give the paint a nice buttery consistency, and add more to give a more liquid paint. For the base layer I add more liquin. An added benefit of Liquin is that it speeds up the drying process.

Zest-It I really like the this range of solvents because it does not contain the nasties that are in turps. I only use turps if I am painting outside, and if I am using turps then I wear latex gloves.

After a couple of day's drying I then add the details.

I don't paint dark to light as most oil painting tutorials would have you do. I find that working light to dark means that you can maintain the freshness of the highlights much more easily and can get more done in one session.

Unfortunately for you I got so carried away with this stage that I forgot to take step by step photos - this is the only stage I photographed.

I use photos a lot to assess my work. I can see from the photo above that I have missed some of the branch under the buds.

Here is the finished painting.

Now we play the waiting game. I would normally leave it on the board for a week or two but I wanted to show you it on the mini-easel so I carefully took it off the board holding only the edges, and now it is sitting on a mini-easel where I can enjoy watching paint dry. It will need to stay on the easel for a couple of months. 

And finally, after 6 months, I can varnish it! 

It is possible to test for dryness before the 6 months is up by rubbing a section of the painting with turps on a tissue, but to be honest I don't want to risk damaging it, so will just leave it be.

Thanks so much for dropping by, I do hope you enjoy reading my blog. Why not leave a comment to say hello so that I know you called? 


  1. Love this painting Stephie and great to see how you painted it :-)

    1. Thanks Hazel - I just wish I'd taken a few more photo's along the way!

  2. Very interesting to read about your process!

  3. That was really interesting, thanks! I know absolutely nothing about oil paints so I have learned something today x Oh and lovely work too!

    1. Thanks for taking time to comment moonriversilver. I don't paint oils in the conventional way, and my advice to anyone wanting to have a go is don't worry about the rules, just pick up the brushes, engage your common sense, and get stuck in!

  4. Fascinating, I do love your oil ACEOs, it's just such a pity it takes soooooo long for them to dry!

    1. Thanks Margaret! The drying time is the worse part of it - although it does mean I get to admire myself them for a bit longer lol :)


Thanks so much for dropping by, I do hope you enjoy reading my blog. Come on in, leave a comment and join the chat!