258 Watercolour pencil Portraits

I’m slowly getting back into sketching, but I’m taking the lazy way by sketching in my lounge chair studio in the evenings. Now that it’s getting near winter here and chilly in the evenings it’s so much cosier in my living room rather than my cold art room. It’s easy to grab a few pencils and a journal and scribble away. 

This was the first since my eye surgery which took me longer to recover from than I expected. I developed fluid behind the eye which affected my  focus so I was restricted to one eyed squinting.  It will be a few months before I have follow up surgery so I’ll spend that time juggling glasses and squinting a lot. But hey, worse things happen and at least I can still see 😊

I decided to work through my list of followers on Sktchyapp, choosing everyday shots of “normal” people rather than posed model types or wacky selfies.  Thanks to Amanda C and Sktchyapp for the reference photo for this sketch.


That was a hard one as I forgot how to draw, or at least where to start. I started messing around with a selection of Faber Castell watercolour pencils – flesh, burnt sienna, olive green and indigo with a bit of violet in the hair. I got there in the end.

As I work I often take a photo to help me see where my mistakes are. I thought I’d share this process.  I started this next one with a Polychromos pencil in Indian red. You can see I’m pretty rough in the initial stages. Excuse the bad night time photos.


Yep, the angle of the nose and the width of the jaw needed some surgery 😄 I’m using the same colour pencils as above for the flesh with the addition of a pinky red, washed over with a waterbrush.


I added Yellow ochre, violet, cobalt teal, burnt sienna and indigo for the hair. The flesh tones and shadows  were strengthened with burnt sienna, violet and indigo. The eye highlights are done with a tiny dot of white gel pen. Thanks again to Sktchyapp and Charlotte H for the reference photo.


Watercolour pencils are fun to play with, used dry, blending with a wet brush and drawing back into the damp area. If you haven’t tried these pencils before you’re missing out on some fun. They are clean, portable and versatile, and a great solution for armchair sketching 👍

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16 thoughts on “258 Watercolour pencil Portraits

  1. I love your use of color in portraits. These are great. And also glad to hear your eye is better. Took almost 4 months for my vision to return completely so I acn appreciate the feeling when it finally does. How large are these portraits?

  2. Thank you! These are wonderful and inspiring. I can relate to the eye healing part…still waiting on mine but accepting that it might not improve the way I want it too. I’m going to go look up the app you reference.

    • I’m happy to have inspired you. Do have a look at Sktchyapp but bear in mind it’s only available on iPhone or iPad. There is always Julia Kays Portrait party on Flickr as well.

  3. You are an inspiration, both in real life with your perseverace in spite of obstacles and in your art, which is always fresh and spontaneous. I love your work and have missed your posts. Welcome back!

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