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 😄💯


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:

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