Frida

Frida Kahlo

I’ve been taking part in the Brooklyn Art Library’s 14 day portrait challenge. Today’s person to draw was Frida Kahlo but I decided that I didn’t want to draw the flower crowned iconic Frida that everyone knows. Instead I decided to draw the younger sterner Frida who wasn’t entirely sure yet who she wanted to be.

I decided to draw this portrait on my iPad Pro because I thought Procreate offered me the best tools for trying to recreate the vintage feel of the photo I was drawing from. I used most of my favourite brushes – the wet acrylic, the stucco, the Blackwing Pencil, and the Studio Pen.

Carrie Fisher

Carrie Fisher as General Leia

I’m participating in the Brooklyn Art Library’s 14 day portrait challenge, although it’s now Day 4 and this is the first day I’ve felt inspired to draw a portrait. Every day for 14 days they email a prompt for a portrait but the first three prompts didn’t excite me enough to make me want to draw the suggested portrait. But today’s prompt was to draw someone, living or dead, who I’d like to have a meal with.

And I came up with a very long list, but I would love, love, love to have a meal with Carrie Fisher. And not the young Carrie Fisher, but the older wiser Carrie Fisher. Because while I love the actor I adore the outspoken courageous sassy mental health campaigning Carrie Fisher most of all. That’s the woman I would love to sit down and share a meal with.

This is the third portrait of her I drew. The first two weren’t right. The likeness was fine but somehow they didn’t capture her. And suddenly I realised why. She needs to be among the stars – that’s where she belongs. So when I drew this third portrait I was imagining her as a constellation.

I drew this on my iPad Pro with the Procreate app.

Christine’s husband

Today’s Sktchy portrait is of Christine’s husband. I don’t know his name; Christine posted his photo on Sktchy but didn’t add his name. I love his wistful expression. Last week I made a commitment to draw a portrait of an older person at least once a week in honour of all the older people dying in care homes in the UK in the coronavirus pandemic. This is this week’s portrait.

I drew this on my iPad Pro with an Apple Pencil using the Procreate app.

A Seagull: Life goes on

Today’s portrait is a seagull drawn from a Sktchy photo uploaded by Kris. I live in Brighton on the south coat of England, a city with its fair share of seagulls. Some consider them a plague, personally I love them.

Every year two seagulls nest in our chimney pots and around this time of year their eggs hatch and for a couple of months I watch my chimney pots as the chicks grow into fledglings. I love the expectation, waiting to see how many chicks there are, trying to count them as they start to move around between the chimney pots, never entirely sure until they are big enough to fight for space in their cramped quarters.

This year the gulls are back again and I’ve been watched them build their nest and guard it for some time. I’m pretty sure the chicks have now hatched because one of the gulls is permanently stationed on the chimney and they appear to be feeding chicks, but they’re not moving around yet. It feels more important to me than ever before that they are there this year, because they are a daily reminder to me that the world is still turning, that nature is still doing what it does, it’s patterns are unchanged, if anything they are reinforced by the slowdown in economic growth. Watching the seagulls carry on with their lives just as they do every year is the most reassuring thing I have seen this spring. It brings me peace in a way that nothing else has done. I’m hoping there are at least 2, perhaps even 3, chicks this year. I’ll let you know.

I drew the full on my iPad Pro with an Apple Pencil using the Procreate app.

Artur

Artur

This is Artur. Nothing deep and meaningful about today’s choice of Sktchy face to draw. I just liked that intense and more than a little grumpy expression and it was definitely fun to draw. I got lost in the pink and blue tones for a while.

I drew this on my iPad Pro with an Apple Pencil using the Procreate app and Lisa Bardot’s fabulous pencil box brushes.

Akeem: Finding Peace of Mind in a Pandemic

I’ve practiced mindfulness for many years. It’s been one of my most important coping strategies when it comes to looking after my mental health and managing my chronic pain. In the many years I’ve been using it there have been only two times when I’ve really struggled with it, finding it hard to focus well enough even to practice and/or finding myself avoiding practice because to do so was so difficult. The first time was after I developed Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) and the second is now. Both times the enormity of the situation has just felt too huge to allow my mind to be calm.

And yet, in the past few days, I am finally finding calm when I pick up my pens and my sketchbook or iPad and draw. I am beginning to find that mindful attention to the present moment returning when I’m focused on drawing portraits, more so every day. It’s taken five weeks to get here and it really is baby steps but I’m counting it as progress. I still can’t find the focus to sit down with my Mindful or Headspace apps, that’s asking too much of my frazzled, panicked mind, but an hour or so of portrait drawing a day is something I’m deeply grateful for.

I drew Sktchy muse Akeem on my iPad Pro with an Apple Pencil using the Procreate app.

Anastasia and the joy of getting lost in a painting

Sktchy are hosting a Backward Portrait Party this weekend, challenging members to reverse their usual drawing or painting methods and works “backwards”. So I totally reversed my usual process to draw Anastasia’s portrait on my iPad. I usually paint hair last so I did it first, than I painted the face and features, and then added some colour for the sweater. I added some linework right at the end. You can see a short timelapse video of my drawing process on YouTube here.

The most interesting thing about this for me was that I was completely absorbed in my work while I was painting and drawing, more than at any time since the coronavirus lockdown began. For a whole hour or so I wasn’t anxious at all, I wasn’t thinking about anything else, I was just making art. It was so lovely to have some peace of mind.

Danny

This is Danny. I didn’t really know what I was doing or where I was going with this Procreate portrait, I just kept drawing and it got darker and dirtier and messier. I had his likeness, lost it totally, got it back a little, lost it again, and ended up with him looking liked he’d walked out of a coal mine rather than someone half in shadow.

Lol! That’s what this drawing thing is like some days. I still like elements of the portrait and I’m sharing it so you know that some days drawing comes easily and others it’s a real battle. Today I really enjoyed doing this but the outcome is a lot messier than I would have wished for!

Calysta: Things I Miss

This is Sktchy muse Calysta. While I was drawing her I was thinking of the things I miss.

I miss small talk in the margins of meetings.

I miss passing the time with neighbours in the street.

I miss the sound of children heading to and from school through my open window and the distant hubbub of the school playground at playtime.

I miss pub lunches and chip shop suppers.

I miss days at the farm.

I miss not feeling scared, anxious and sad all the time.

I miss feeling in control of my mental health, my agoraphobia and claustrophobia.

I miss being able to just leave the house and go somewhere, anywhere, when I want to, just to remind myself that I am able to do that these days. Will I be able to do that by the time the lockdown is over or will I be agoraphobic again?

I drew Calysta on my iPad Pro using the Procreate app.