This is Grace, painted with Zecchi Toscana watercolours and finished with coloured pencils in my Moleskine watercolour sketchbook. It’s a reasonable likeness except that Grace is much prettier than this. All the features are just slightly off – the eyes and nose a little too large, the mouth not quite right. This often happens in my portraits and I don’t generally worry about it too much because I usually like the portrait well enough nevertheless. But in this portrait it has all combined to create a portrait that just doesn’t work.

I could have just left the portrait in my sketchbook and not shared it but, for me, sharing what doesn’t work is just as important as sharing the work I’m proud of. I’m learning with every portrait I create and it means so much more if I can share that learning. What I learned from this portrait is that sometimes I can be lazy, I can take it for granted that my portraits will turn out well even when my initial sketches are slightly off. Taking the time to revisit the sketch, check proportions and make corrections is probably well worth doing.

If you’ve learned useful lessons from your regular art practice I’d be interested to hear them.

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I love drawing things. These days I am rarely found without a pen, pencil or stylus in my hands. In my working life I spend a lot of time in meetings and classrooms, reading papers and strategies, so my home life provides a creative antidote to all that! I also have chronic pain, lots of it. I have scoliosis, fibromyalgia and CRPS, so my life is a balancing act, trying to balance work, which make me feel part of the real world, with pain, which is ever present, and art, which soothes my pain.

2 thoughts on “Grace”

  1. It’s very lively and attractive. If it doesn’t work as a portrait, then it works as art. Earlier today, I read a quote by John Singer Sargent “Every time I paint a portrait, I lose a friend.” It’s difficult to get a visual likeness, but so fun to see what an artist exaggerates and sees and paints. All of the portraits I paint are wonky, but most work for my friends and for me, once I get over the fact that I’m never going to be the kind of painter who can capture exact likeness.


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