Last of the 30 Faces

Every day of last month, on the 30faces30days Sktchy app was a new challenge for the portrait artist.  I learned so much in the struggle. The month (of April) is over, but I haven’t stopped drawing faces.  Here are the last of the month.day22

The prompt here was to play with color and value, and the subject was posed with strong, colorful lighting. So this was a good opportunity to practice juxtaposing warm and cool colors. I thought my application was pretty clunky, but was surprised by the level of believability achieved even so.


Oh this one was so much fun. His eyes were fabulous. And I got out my Chinese Orange gouache for the red. I should play with gouache more often. It’s opacity is a great counterpoint for watercolor as long as it’s allowed it own forceful presence. The paper in all of these portraits is Stillman + Birn’s gray toned paper, in a 9 X 12″ spiral bound sketchbook.


I’m still stumped by this one. Even taking great care with measuring to try to get the drawing “right”, I managed to lose the subject’s Asian-ness. Maybe I should start over and try again?


I stopped and photographed this one before I finished, knowing that there was no way I could pull it off.  I mean look at that face! classical gorgeous. And in the picture it dissolved into black. Very difficult to pull off, even with oil paint. And probably a bit impossible with watercolor unless you have artist quality w/c paper. But I kind of like the not-quite-finished version. After all it’s the eyes one is drawn to, and they are enough. . .and the mouth.


You guessed it. This one was about foreshortening. I’m not sure what this guy was doing up in a tree, but it made for a fun sketching exercise!


If you’re counting, which I’m sure you’re not, you’ll realize that I skipped a day or two. Not because I didn’t do the portrait, but because the result was so awful that I couldn’t bring myself to post it here (although I learned something from every one!)

This is day 30 and I am happy with the result, even though I really messed up. You know how important it is to counteract the mind’s tendency to get the proportions wrong, by measuring EVERYTHING in your drawing? That’s the main thing I’ve learned from this second month of every day portrait sketching (the first was January). You have to measure distances, like the distance from the bottom of the eye to the top of the head, but also draw vertical and horizontal lines to know how the features really line up!

So this drawing is basically wrong. And it’s at least the second time the same thing happened this month with a 3/4 pose. Her left eye is in the wrong place. But I didn’t catch it til it was too late.

So this happens a lot. If it’s not the left eye in the wrong place, it’s the mouth or the ear or the slant of the nose. You have to literally check everything before you declare it finished. Or you learn to appreciate your own creative wonkiness, which can be enjoyed by all without the need for perfection, because. . .

Perfection has one grave defect: it is apt to be dull. -William Somerset Maugham 

And that was the end of the month-long Faces adventure! If you’ve been working on portraits, I’d love to know what you’ve learned.


  1. Having worked on these same portraits for thirty days, I can only say that you are totally brilliant. Sorry to all those great instructors, but all of your portraits are far superior to most of the teachers! The personality of the faces jumps off the page. I follow your blogs assiduously and hope to meet you someday…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love your imperfect faces…it makes me look at them for a longer time. It’s easy to dismiss perfection.




    1. Thanks Brigitte. I actually prefer sketching caracatures and that’s the direction I want to take now that the month is over. But one has to put in time with the discipline of “getting it right” too I think.


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