I think I'm 2, 16" x 16" Sanguine & sepia dust/coloured pencils on watercolour paper, 2009

coloured pencils commission sanguine dust sepia dust

Recently I did a post to let you know how I was doing with some portrait commissions and the battle I have been facing to complete them.

Well to celebrate, I have completed one out of the four! Phewwwwww it didn't come easy- It came after 6 attempts! Now, even though I haven't used the same pictures for all the attempts, they are the same boy! Now that can almost be hard to believe!

The lessons I have learnt are numerous but I just give glory to God first, for giving me the persistence and endurance during the roughest of times I ever experienced to produce a single portrait.

Lessons learnt.
1. Portrait commissions cannot be rushed, they take patience and time and HARD WORK! Give yourself sufficient time!

2. If working form photos make sure you take hundreds of photos of the same subject under different lighting to bring out the personality of the subject. Out of a hundred one will click!

3. When scaling it is good to use horizontal and vertical lines but also diagonal!

4. Master the medium you plan to use by practicing different effects possible on test paper or any ground similar to the one you are working on.

5. Nothing should be taken for granted, develop an "unmerciful" eye for tone, temperature, detail, lighting, texture, movement...that list could go on and on.

6. Sometimes while working on portraits the goal is resemblance or what some people call likeness- this can get one into a fix while working on portraits. When I say "fix" I mean, you let that be your one drive alone but it is not. So my solution is take a couple of breaks and distance yourself from the piece at intervals, also employing the use of a mirror to look at the portrait in reverse to see any alignment mistakes.

7. Finally, if others can do it, you can, just go back to your beloved books and tutors for help. Or even a trusty second eye. My wife comes in handy here, because she is neutral she'll offer down to earth criticism.

The final piece was achieved by first ghosting the dust on the watercolour paper and then details and tones were added using a variety of brown, red and black coloured pencils.

Here are 6 failed attempts! Don't laugh!

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