I love how portraits go through an ugly phase before resolving themselves. There’s always a point when I’m drawing when I wonder if the portrait is going to be a complete disaster or if it is going to work out OK and I have no idea what the answer will be. All I can do is keep working and hope that I will find a way to make it work. Ninety per cent of the time I do, but to be honest it doesn’t really matter. Obviously it’s great to have a portrait I like at the end of the process, but it’s the process that matters, working on my drawing to try to get past the ugly stage to make it less ugly, to resolve it and make something that feels at least partly complete.

This portrait of Fary was especially difficult and was very ugly about half way through. I left it and came back to it a couple of days later, worked on it for another hour and resolved it. It doesn’t have much of a likeness but it’s not ugly any more and I’m very happy with it.


I love drawing sunglasses and I also love the unusual perspective in this portrait. I’m really happy with how the glasses came out but less so with the hair – really need to work on my hair skills! Perhaps I could have spent less time on the glasses and more on the hair 😂


I started drawing and painting Rosi in my Drawing Faces class for Sketchbook Skool and finished it after the class. This was one of those portraits where I think I had a likeness at the drawing stage, then I lost it, got it back at various points, lost it completely and at this finished stage have a sense of her but definitely not a complete likeness. I think the bottom half of the face is not bad but I’ve lost something around the eyes, hair and top of the face.

Of course drawing in class isa very different to drawing for myself. I have to draw flat so my document camera captures the process well for everyone viewing online. I have to work faster than I would normally (though that’s not necessarily a bad thing). And I use a thicker pen so that my lines are more visible for viewers – and I do find that makes a big difference. Perhaps I’ll start using a fountain pen again so I can have more line variability if I’m going to have a thicker line?

Louis XVI

Every Thursday at 5pm BST Sketchbook Skool’s Danny Gregory hosts a one hour Draw With Me session on YouTube. Anyone can attend and it’s free. People attend from all around the world and, for about 45 minutes, we draw along with Danny while he chats about what he’s drawing, the nature of drawing, and anything else that comes up. It’s a very sociable occasion, with people commenting and chatting in the online chat, which is also hosted by Sketchbook Skool.

What we draw each week is usually a surprise. This week’s session was on Bastille Day so we drew Louis XVI. Obviously I love it when the sessions feature a portrait because I get to draw another face. I try to finish my drawings in the session because I love the challenge of trying to work much faster than usual, so I drew this portrait in 45-50 minutes (I did add the gold in just a few minutes after the session).

If you like to draw then why not join a session one Thursday? If the time doesn’t suit you then they are recorded so you can watch the recorded sessions at a time that fits with your schedule (but it’s more fun to join live if you can because you can participate in the chat). The entire back catalogue is available on Sketchbook Skool’s YouTube channel here. If you want to see some of the work created during sessions head over to Instagram and search for #SBSDrawWithMe.


I’m struggling to draw in the hot weather in the UK. The heat affects my meds and makes me very tired and I think that this affected my drawing subliminally – Denyce looks so tired in this portrait and she really doesn’t look tired in the inspiration photo. Her hair has also ended up frizzy from the humidity – and it’s not like that in the inspiration image either. I didn’t really notice this when I was drawing but can see it so clearly now.

So my challenge for the next couple of weeks is to see if I can manage to draw portraits without making people look hot, sweaty and tired. I’m also wondering if this something that happens to other people or just me…