Artist from the Philippines. Lives in Europe. Lover of Life. Follower of Christ.

Month: January 2022

Art Exploration: Portraits


Photo by Thái An on Unsplash

January 2022: I wanted to set a routine for myself and practice painting twice a week. They say that practice makes perfect and, in art, I believe that. This month, I tried portraits. 😜

My Previous Experience

Portraits has been quite a challenge for me. I initially started with charcoal and it’s… well… not easy for beginners 😆

I learned that in doing portraits, I need a skill to draw a face. I am familiar with the grid method but my problem is that after doing all that hardwork my drawing still doesn’t look like my subject. It is quite frustrating that the final product doesn’t meet my standards.

Which begs the question “Are my standards too high? If yes, how do I fix it?”

Beginner’s Technique

I downloaded an app on my phone that allows me to edit photos. Originally, I wanted to edit my photo so I could have a pop-art effect. My plan is to print it, trace it on a paper and color it with colored pens. Maybe add some zentangle patterns for added effect. This is the result:

Made from colored pens

It was good and I was happy because it looked like me. Yay! 😄

But the reason I started painting again is to learn how to paint. So colored pens is not an option.

As I looked through the app, I saw that there’s a flow effect and it converts your photo into a watercolor painting. I thought “Hmm… maybe I could use this as a reference to practice. “ The color separation is clear enough to identfy the shadow from the highlight. 

Sample photo generated from the app

I could print the photo, trace it and then paint. I thought it would be easy and good first step for beginners, like me. 

But before that, I thought to myself “ I should set some standards. There should be a point where I could say that I am satisifed and it is good enough.” And so I decided that I will start grading my work, list some improvements and apply those on my other future works.

So I grabbed a photo of my nephew and began the process. This is how it went:

I tried using oil paint because the paint stays wet and it will be easy for me to blend the colors. I gave it a 6 ⭐️. It looked nice, it looked like my nephew. I love the blending of the colors but I think it can be improved. I listed out the things that I liked and the things that I think should be improved

What I like:

  • I like the blending of the colors in the skin
  • I thought the nose is good
  • For a beginner, I think the result is good enough

What needs to be improved:

  • Shadows could be darker
  • Add more highlights in the eyes and lips
  • The crumpling of the shirt 

I was satisfied with the result from the oil painting and I am eager to try again! 😎 I took out my watercolor and gave it another try. And here’s the result:

Cutie Pie!

I loved it! ❤️ I gave this an 8 ⭐️. I listened to my critique and darken the shadows. I added bold colors so it will be distinct and I made sure that the mouth and shirt are taken care of.

While painting this, I realize that I have lots of doubts in my ability. I am holding myself back because I am afraid to make a mistake. I want my first try to be perfect even though I am just a beginner. I am putting a lot of pressure on myself. 

Listing out those critiques helped me a lot. It pushed me to not make the same mistakes again. And I am more aware of what I have to do because it became my goal. 👩‍🎨

I was so happy with the result that I decided to practice more and paint my family. 

The result varies but all in all I am happy 😄💯

Conclusion

In conclusion, I learned a lot from this experience. I learned…

  • how to be bold and how to embrace your fears
  • how to be forgiving and allow yourself to make mistakes
  • how to set standards and critique my work
  • that in portrait painting, you should start with the eyes and focus on that. It makes a lot of difference if the eyes are correct.
  • not to expect perfection

This was a fun experience and I look forward to next month!


If you would like to see some of my work, please check out my pages:

My Journey: Returning to a place I once loved

Photo by Ravi Pinisetti on Unsplash

My dream is to be an artist. When I was young I imagined myself as a full-time artist… I could be a painter or a potter or crafter… maybe a musician, singer or an actor. I don’t know. The possibilities are endless but what I do know is that I want a career that will allow me to immerse in art and access my creativity.

As a child and as a student, I enjoyed art class. I was able to paint, print designs and draw different kinds of things. As I grew older, I learned more about precision art like paper crafting, quilling and carving.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Art, for me, has always been a comfort zone. A place where I could speak my mind, where I could share my thoughts and my feelings, a place where I could just be myself.

Growing up, it is hard to express myself without the fear of bringing shame to the family. Art and creativity gave me the space where I could express anything that I want without bringing embarassment to anybody. That’s why I told myself that if I go to college, I will take Fine Arts. But, unfortunately, that didn’t happen.

Photo by Justin Luebke on Unsplash

I need to choose a different career path. A path that can put food on the table and provide for my family. I convinced myself that I could pursue this path and re-visit art someday. That took 15 years… 😆

During that 15 years, I forgot about my artist dream and I lived life as if that dream never existed. But this is about to change…

Photo by Luis Villasmil on Unsplash

Stress, at work, took over and I became anxious and overwhelmed. A friend, who knows me so well, gave me an easel with painting materials and told me to re-visit my dream. I could start painting again and release some of the stress. Honestly, that gift gave me mixed emotions.

A part of me felt pain and anger. Deep inside of me, I felt hurt and betrayed that I did not pursue art. Another part felt very excited.

“Finally I can pursue my dream! But…what if I suck? I haven’t done this for a long time. What if I can’t do it anymore? What if I fail? What if I am just wasting all these materials? I could have bought some food instead.”.

This is the conversation that goes inside my head. I was so torned that it took me a while before I open that gift. I was filled with fear and anxiety that one day I decided to just do it. I finally gave in…

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

“So…. What now? Where do I start?” Ugh! so many questions 😐

I decided to start with what I know. Youtube! I searched for easy paint-along videos that I could try. This is the result… 😆

It was fun pausing the video and painting at the same time. I felt very frustrated and confused but I think that approach was a good first step.

The result was okay. I was not satisfied but it was a good first try. I still don’t understand why it looks so grainy, dark and weird. But it doesn’t matter now. 😆

Feeling somewhat disappointed, I decided to do some doodling. I used to do this when I was in high school so I thought I could do it again.

Now, this is a satisfying result! 👍 I’m glad that I can still draw but this is not enough. I want to push myself. I want to see what else can I do. I want to try other mediums that I am not familiar with and, maybe, create something good. I want to try charcoal and give watercolor another try.

After several tries, I created something that I am happy to see. Not bad! I think I’m getting used to watercolor. And charcoal is a whole new level of experience.

I wonder “What else?” Maybe I could try some acrylics…

I like it! The design came from the Bible Project videos and when I saw it, I thought I want it in 4-piece canvas. 😄

Photo by Yannis Papanastasopoulos on Unsplash

I practiced a lot! Some are good and some are not so good. But what I notice about my paintings is that my emotions can affect the results. So I created an initial question for myself before I start the process. An initial assessment, if you could say. I will ask myself this question

“Does this spark joy?” 😆

I may laugh but that question helps weed out the not so good paintings. I paint designs that I want to see on my wall. With this technique, I am always happy with the results.

Going back to painting made me feel young again. I felt the same feeling that I felt before.

I felt free. I felt that I could be myself again. That I could express and show who I am without the fear of embarrassing anybody. I felt like I found something that I’ve been missing for a long time. And I felt happy.

I returned to a place that I once loved. I thought it was gone but it was just waiting for me to return. And I’m glad I’m back.

Photo by Marten Newhall on Unsplash

Looking back, It kinda sound dramatic that I was struggling to start painting. It made me wonder why was I so afraid in the first place? But my feelings are valid. My struggle is real. Sometimes doubt and fear can really get the best of me. And in this particular moment, I needed to recognize that fear and anxiety and overcome it.

This is just the beginning of my journey and I’m pretty sure there are still lot of things to learn in the future. But what I learned from this experience is that dreams do come true. The journey to get there might be long or it might look different from what you are expecting but dreams do come true. I also learned that if you really want something, you should take all the opportunities that you can. Some might result to failure but you can always take it as a teaching moment. A learning opportunity that can help you grow and be better next time.

I look forward to the future! I think I am still holding myself back and letting fear and doubt take over me. But I am learning. I would like discover myself more, to learn who I am and to express myself more through art. I’m excited to see who I can be if I can just let go.

By the end of the day, I am happy to say that I gave it a try and took the risk. I am so grateful that it paid off and there are no regrets. I am given a chance to pursue my dreams and, this time, I’ll grab it and won’t let go.


If you would like to see some of my work, please check out my pages: