Day 14: Newsflash – Learning New Things Takes Work

I am not a portraitist. I don’t see it in my future either – but when I invited fans to submit photos of their children for me to paint I received some photos that focused a lot on the children’s faces.

The photos presented some challenges – how to improve on beautifully taken photos, and how does a non portraitist do a face when a face is all there is to do?

My answer – three different versions and two attempts later.

Day 14 She Wore A Flower in Her Hair V1













Version one – I kept seeing an old lady. The colours were too dark. Looking back I was trying to make the painting match a previous painting and just got lost. I imposed too many ideas that weren’t really part of the photo. I also found it difficult to connect to the photo.


Day 14 v2















After looking at the first painting I realized the colours needed to be lighter and more childlike. I made the choice to open this painting up to be what it needed to be. I simplified my paint palette to three colours and the colour mixes they made. The original photo got transformed into a black and white reference image and I also eliminated some lines in the face.

Day 14 She Wore A Flower in Her Hair Final Version















A night’s sleep and a camera gave me fresh eyes for the second painting and I made some small colour adjustments – toning down some whites that I thought were too harsh and removing some out of place dark pink. In the end I think I did ok. I can leave this painting and move on, being reminded of some things I already knew (simple colour palettes are best for me) and working out how to create a face in paint.


What do you think? Was it successful? Do you see a toddler’s face or is she older than that in this photo?





4 responses to “Day 14: Newsflash – Learning New Things Takes Work”

  1. wow that is beautiful.. faces and portraits are the hardest things for me to try and do and you captured that in every sense. The pain of trying to create something beautiful with a skill you might not have.

Leave a Reply