If you’ve been following this blog for a while you’ll know that every so often I lose my drawing mojo, usually because I’m struggling with my chronic pain problems, and I have to find a way of boosting myself out of a drawing block. One of the ways I do that is by taking a drawing course in Skillshare or Domestika, which are very inexpensive online drawing schools.

This week I took a background illustration class using Photoshop on Domestika to try to get myself back into drawing. I don’t actually have Photoshop and have never used it but Procreate does much of the same things at a more basic level so I was able to follow the course and learn a lot from it. Of course I don’t draw backgrounds, I draw portraits, so I was keen to translate what I learned to my portrait drawing.

This is a portrait of Isabel from the Museum by Sktchy app drawn in Procreate on my iPad Pro using the new technique I learned on that course. I love how it turned out. I wasn’t sure it was going to turn out well at all – but suddenly about two-thirds of the way through I could see that it was beginning to look good. I’m hoping that my technique will improve with practice too.


I’ve gone back to Bics for my first portrait of 2022. This is Mahdiar from the Museum by Sktchy app (of course) drawn with my usual Bic 4-colour biros in a Life Noble Note Plain sketchbook. I’ve made him look a bit moodier than he is in the inspiration photo – he’s looking much happier in that but I lost his smile along the way.

I’d like to wish all my followers a very happy new year. I hope that 2022 brings you everything you would wish for yourself and your family, and I seriously hope it sees the beginning of the end of the Covid pandemic for all of us.


I’m not getting much drawing done right now. I’ve had a post-durapuncture headache since I had my trial spinal cord stimulator removed, which is causing nausea, dizziness and various other problems, all of which make drawing difficult. But I finished a portrait today, yay!


I’ve drawn a portrait! It’s the first one in several weeks and it’s taken a few days. This is the wonderful Janie from Museum by Sktchy.

Apologies for my absence but I had some surgery a few weeks ago to trial a partially implanted spinal cord stimulator (SCS) for the pain I get from Chronic Regional Pin Syndrome (CRPS) in my right foot. For the 2 weeks the electrodes were in my spine I couldn’t bend or twist my back in case I pulled them out so it was too difficult to draw – because I tend to hunch over my desk when drawing.

I’ve had the SCS removed now but the good news is that the trial was a great success so I should get a full implant next year. But I can draw again – although my pain is back now the SCS is gone. But I can look forward to a time when I have a permanent SCS so my pain is reduced and, once I’ve healed after the surgery, I can draw with much less pain!


More practice at drawing children today with this portrait of Nicki’s son, as usual drawn from a photo on the Museum by Sktchy app. I got a much better likeness this time, though I’ve still aged him a little. Such a great expression to draw.


This portrait of Victoria from the Museum by Sktchy app was a complete disaster at the watercolour stage. I’d applied the watercolour much more quickly than I usually do and it looked muddy, without much colour definition. So I left it overnight and came back to it the next day with fresh eyes,

Then I started working on it with coloured pencils and, without too much work, they transformed it into a portrait that I really like. I focused on adding more definition to the shadows and more yellow and pink to the areas where those had turned into mud at the watercolour stage. And I tried not to get too hung up over the hair, where I can often get very worked up about not really knowing what to do.

All in all I’m really happy with the portrait, especially considering where it was halfway through. And the moral of the story is to ever give up on a portrait because it always has something to teach you.


This is Alyona from the Museum by Sktchy app. For once I fell like I did a good job with the mouth here – hooray – and I caught the sense of her eyes but, as always they are way too big and I definitely have a bit of the second eye problem.

“What is that?” you’re asking if you don’t draw (definitely not I f you’ve ever draw a portrait because you wil have countered it). It’s the difficulties many (all?) artists face when they try to draw the second eye to. Getting it to match the first eye in size, shape, positioning, colour, everything really, often feels like an impossible task and even when you think you’ve got it right you finish a portrait and realise it’s wrong.

I always draw the right eye first. You can see here that the second eye looks smaller, less rounded and just wrong. I thought it was OK when I was working but now it just doesn’t look right. That’s the second eye problem. Since this is a digital portrait it would be easy for me to go back and correct it but I’d rather leave it as it is as a reminder to myself of the problem, and the importance of keeping stepping back, looking and checking as I work.


This is Scout, a very talented child model and probably the most famous and most often drawn child muse on the Museum by Sktchy app. I don’t often draw children but I wanted to get some practice in for a big commission I’ve just landed. But the lack of experience shows – I really haven’t got Scout’s likeness and I’ve also made her look much too serious. So more practice needed.