271 Sktchyapp Portraits

Most of my portraits at the present time are from photos available on Sktchyapp. This is a fun app, available sadly only for iPhone and iPad at this stage. One of the fun aspects of this app is the ability to swipe sideways to see the inspiration photo and the artwork, and to see each artist’s interpretation, their methods and materials. It’s always inspiring to see and learn from others. This is a screenshot of the swipe in action.

And here is the complete portrait, painted in my small Quill journal with gouache, pencil and a touch of white Posca pen. Thanks to Nariman for the reference image.

I love painting portraits as you probably know by now, and recently became aware of the option to offer commissions through the shop at Sketchy. This is a trial run for Sktchy I believe, before adding the feature more widely through the app. You can see my listings here and if you like what you see feel free to commission one of your own. Id love to paint one for you or of your pet 😉

Another experiment, this time with a patterned background – once again, gouache with pencil. Thanks to PixelPrincess for her inspiring photo.

Thee month of November is #noshavenovember and #movember in support of cancer awareness I chose a lovely moustachioed subject for the following portrait. Thanks Stuart for your great image.

All of my images up until now have been iPad photos, which I think have been perfectly ok for my purpose. But now that I’m offering commission portraits the images need to be a bit better, and a higher resolution, so I will be going back to the more laborious process of scanning, saving, photoshopping and colour matching. It is probably worth the effort as it is sometimes very hard to tweak the colours in the photo.

The photos of Stuart and PixelPrincess are both iPad photos but the top one of Nariman is a scan. Can you tell the difference?

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267 Inktober sketches Part 2

One thing about doing a monthly challenge is that it motivates you to sketch at least once a day, whether you feel like it or not. Some days inspiration just doesn’t come, so its back to the old adage,  “Inspiration finds you working”. So for the Day 12 prompt  “Shattered” I picked up a ballpoint pen and just started scribbling. I like adding an appropriate or amusing quote to each sketch, often simply to make me feel better about a drawing I’m unhappy with.

Day 13 – Teeming. I drew a few strokes with a white chinagraph pencil before applying a watered down ink wash for a rain effect.


#14 – Fierce. Sometimes it’s easier to find a quote first before looking for a reference photo. Ink, watercolour and brushpen. A brushpen is maybe a little heavy for a toddlers face 😄

# 15 – Mysterious – sepia ink with a waterbrush.

# 16 – Fat – ink and watercolour

#17 – Graceful – ink and coloured pencil.

#18 – Filthy – ink and watercolour. 

#19 – Cloud – permanent and water soluble ink. It’s a clouded leopard in case you were wondering at my interpretation. 
#20 – Deep – ink and watercolour

#21 – Furious – ink, brushpen and marker.

All these sketches were done in one of my handmade journals 10 x 7 inch of 160g Daler Rowney cartridge paper, with various inks as per Inktober challenge,  and the lettering with various markers.

Well, I managed to make it to day 21. Not too many to go so I think I can manage to do the whole month. 

264 Inktober

Are you doing Inktober? Sketching with ink each day for 31 days?

I knew it was coming up and had already decided I would give it a miss this year. But after going through a very non productive stage I felt I needed some sort of motivation to get back to regular sketching again.

 I looked at Sktchyapp few days ago and saw they also have new challenges posted regularly now. One was to draw inspiration from the masters. I took inspiration from Egon Schiele for this sketch, done on Strathmore tan toned paper with Pentel brushpen and gouache. Thanks to Teri for the reference image.

That felt good to do a figure sketch again, so I decided I would go ahead and attempt Inktober. There is a daily prompt, some I may follow depending how the mood strikes. I’m not good at prompts, it’s just something that takes a bit more effort. 

Whether I will manage all 31 days is yet to be seen but I’ll try.  I didn’t follow the prompt for day 1. Instead I picked a quick and easy one using Matisse’s simple line drawings as the inspiration for this sketch. Photo reference from Lisa on Sktchyapp.

Inktober #1 


I was pleased that I managed to come up with this interpretation for the day 2 prompt – Division. Once again the reference photo is from Sktchyapp with thanks to Arshia for the photo.

Inktober #2


Inktober #3 Poison. I have to use google sometimes for ideas and found this image there. I just needed to add some watercolour to this as I’m a colour girl.

So far so good. But I’m only up to day 3!

263 Mini Canvases

I’ve been experimenting with gouache over gesso on these little canvases. It’s not as receptive as paper, as I like to begin with thinned paint to block in the shapes, progressively adding thicker paint strokes on top. The gesso is a bit resistant to the initial layer of paint and it takes a little extra work to cover the white spots that show in the weave. When finished I give the canvas a couple of light coats of Matt varnish spray.  Ready to hang on the wall without having to frame behind glass.

Why bother with gouache instead of acrylic? No particular reason, I just love gouache!

And at last, my first selfie sketch without glasses! I have had follow up eye surgery after 5 months following complications with the first surgery. Now all is good and I am just using cheapie x2 glasses for reading. 

Watercolour with watercolour pencil in 6 x 8 Quill cartridge paper journal.

261 Creative Slump.

I haven’t done a journal page for ages. In fact I haven’t done much in the way of sketching or painting for ages. 

But we are heading off on a road trip shortly and I’m getting my sketching supplies ready in anticipation. Art supplies are usually the first things I pack. I thought I’d share my favourite super lightweight sketch kit. I like to take this when I’m hiking or out strolling, not knowing whether I’ll actually get around to sketching, but have the supplies on hand if the mood strikes. That way I’m not lugging heavier and bulkier items then feeling peeved if I don’t get to do some sketching. 

I will also be taking along other supplies, gouache and an easel in the hope that I might get to do a painting or two. Wish me luck.

The tiny palette is fashioned from a credit card holder. You can see how I made it here. The mini journal is stitched with a sewing machine. The assembly and sewing instructions can be seen here. 

The only other sketch I managed to do over the last few weeks is an experimental portrait done with a BIC 4 colour ballpoint pen. Thanks to M Elizabeth and Sktchyapp for the reference photo.


The inspiration for trying ballpoint pens came from seeing the awe inspiring work of Nicholas V Sanchez. You can see his incredible sketches here

260 Sketches from the Portrait Journal

It’s been a while and I apologise for the slowdown in my postings. No excuse! Life gets in the way 😉 I’ll simply do a catch-up of all portrait practise done over the last few weeks.

All photo references are from Sktchyapp. First is a gouache and watercolour pencil sketch of Anita.

I like to mix things up a bit so I used Strathmore toned paper for a graphite sketch, adding a little white pencil in the light areas for this sketch of Ciara. The background was a watercolour wash of Quin Gold with some red dropped in.  I rubbed some yellow and red watercolour pencil onto sandpaper and allowed the particles to drop into the wet wash.

Another toned paper sketch of Pat, with a Pentel brushpen with gouache added for the flesh and background areas.

A mixed media sketch of Rick, on toned paper again. Pentel brushpen, gouache and watercolour pencil.Dusti provided the next image and I used this for more experimenting. First I applied a random wash of  Ultramarine and Raw Sienna, then drew over that with the brushpen. I added a bit more colour to define the features and shadows.Another experiment but I have no idea what I’m doing with these el cheapo kiddies markers. It’s fun scribbling though. Thanks to Simone for letting me play around with her image.

img_3584This sketch of Ellen is on toned paper again with the Pentel brushpen and watercolour pencils.  I often use a white Posca marker or a Signo Uniball pen for the highlight in the eyes.Lastly is a watercolour sketch of Robin. I do enjoy watercolours but should really use proper watercolour paper instead of this inexpensive journal. It’s not meant for wet media but it seems to work ok and can take limited layers. I

The Quill journal I’ve been using for most of the sketches has 250gsm cartridge paper and is about 15 x 20cm or 6 x 8″.

I initially only intended to use graphite and coloured pencil but I started adding markers, gouache and watercolour.  I find I am much less precious using this cheap book and much more inclined to experiment, and not worry about the outcome. Much less intimidating than using a “good” book with precious paper.

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 👍