In my last post I shared a portrait that I started during a workshop last weekend with watercolour artist Mario Robinson. Yesterday I began this portrait of Vic from Museum by Sktchy with the very deliberate intention of using my usual watercolour and coloured pencil approach BUT incorporating what I had learned from Mario’s workshop last weekend.

So instead of rushing the watercolour stage as I usually do I slowed right down. I started yesterday and finished today, spending at least twice as long as I usually do on it (2 hours +). I also used water in a second brush to soften the edges and preserve the highlights. And I tried to replicate some of Mario’s very swift brush strokes, designed to keep the brush on the paper for a short a time as possible.

I also didn’t do a number of things that I would usually do. I didn’t use any masking fluid – and I really like the end result just using water to preserve highlights, even if it takes longer. I didn’t use my usual darker fineliner – I’m not so sure about this decision. I feel like that’s part of my style and the portrait does look quite right without it. And because I did go in to finish off with my coloured pencil hatching I think that’s looks a little off (too strong ) without the fineliner outline to balance it. But I think my watercolour work is definitely better than it was a week ago, especially in the hair which is where I always lack the most confidence.

So I think going forward I will certainly be taking a lot of what I learned and incorporating it into my own method and adapting it to make it workable within the shorter timescales that I generally work with.

Not quite a selfie

I’ve been slowly working my way through the back catalogue of Danny Gregory’s weekly Sketchbook Skool Draw With Me sessions on YouTube. I try to attend the live sessions of this on Thursday if I can but they sometimes clash with work so I’ve missed a lot and now I’m revisiting those missed sessions one by one.

Today I took the session on Drawing Distortion which invited everyone to draw a distorted version of Danny or themselves. I hate drawing selfies but love drawing distortion and have no issue with drawing a distorted version of myself! So I snapped a quick selfie and used a photo app on my iPhone to distort it. And then I went straight in with a fineliner drawing, then adding colour with some watercolour pencils I found in a drawer.

I love the end result. I think it’s instantly recognisable as me, while being very distorted 😂

If you want to check out a Draw with Me session you can find them on YouTube here.

M’s hand

We’re working on drawing hands in my Drawing Faces class for Sketchbook Skool’s Spark programme at the moment. I love drawing portraits that include hands and once you feel confident drawing hands you can draw so many more poses – heads in hands, people drinking or on their phone, someone scratching their head, etc – so I think it’s really important to learn to draw them even if you only want to draw faces. So we started with a hand pose and we’ll move on to portraits including hands in later classes.


I drew this portrait of Devon while teaching Spark classes for Sketchbook Skool. It ended up very wonky but that’s OK – it was a valuable lesson in how to keep going even when you really aren’t happy with your line drawing. And the final portrait turned out fine.


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.