Learning Portraiture

I’m hoping to become a portrait artist and am discovering just how hard it is! I think of the many talented portrait artists that I have known and studied, and now, yes now I understand what they must have put into every commission.

It has made me rethink my default painting mode which is: attack, correct, correct, correct. I’m learning a few things. I’m learning why artists favor soft media like oils and pastels for portraits: they enable an artist to render fine detail and fine gradations of color and value. Why would these be useful? Because when you are trying to make an image look like a person, just a slightly darker shadow, or a missing soft highlight can make a person look TOTALLY different! The tolerances are tiny, and if you make Dad’s smile just a millimeter too wide, he’s not Dad, he’s Creepy Dad! I burst out laughing all the time when I’m working on portraits of my family, and the usual reaction when I show a subject’s portrait-in-progress to them is an outburst of laughter. No, it’s not easy, and it’s quite comical.

So, I can’t believe it, but I’m back into oils again! I’ll probably drift back towards faster-drying alkyds again, but for now those water mixable oils are going to be my go-to.

I’ll try to post my hard-learned lessons, but it’s still tough! For now, just remember: soft media and close scrutiny of your subject!

Here’s an attempt to paint my mom. I’m happier with the skin than I usually am in my portraits, and it looks something like her, but still is a bit frozen.

I guess I need to read up some more!

Mom portrait 8 x 10.jpg

A Yorkie Watercolor

Am starting on a Yorkie portrait for a friend...these are just the face details and some darks, now it needs to get more colorful and watercolor-y



Using Acrylic Inks, Markers, and Gel Pens on Watercolor Canvas to paint a Cat Painting


I’m still in the throes of a paint pen and acrylic marker obsession...okay, obsessed with acrylic inks, too. I’m loving that these super portable media mimic wet watercolor for me. 



You can see the materials I’m using in these paintings-on-the-go in the photo above: Daler Rowney acrylic ink, Liquitex acrylic ink, a Gelly Roll archival gel pen, water brushes (found in the calligraphy section and sometimes filled with acrylic ink instead of water), Tombow watercolor marker brushes, Montana acrylic markers, and a small spray bottle. I’m not endorsing any of these products,I’m just testing them out and will let you know which ones end up as my favorites. 



Most important (to me): I’m working on water color canvas panel. The brand is Master’s Touch, Hobby Lobby’s  house brand, and the canvas used to wrap the panels is super fine. It feels like painting on paper, with just the right absorbency. Honestly, I’m tempted to hoard these panels in case they ever discontinue them!

I’ll post more about how I’m using these materials to do a new version of wet watercolor, but for now here’s a link to a “fast painting” YouTube I made as I painted my cat using markers, water brushes, acrylic ink and gel pens.


Thanks for your interest  in my art,you guys!

You can see some clearance paintings for sale on ebay here; and check here to see my Etsy sketchroom site, with digital downloads of painted photographs, sketches and more to come. Incidentally, my youtube art videos are here.

Repurposing an old painting

I didn't feel that the knife painting was standing on its own, so here you can see how I enjoyed painting over It and letting some of its colors and textures show through



still not done