Creativity is for Everyone!

Painting outside of my comfort zone


Last week I must have been feeling extremely ambitious, when I decided to paint not only a portrait in watercolor, but a portrait of my husband and I! It was a fun photo of us at the beach and I thought – why not? I think I thought with the hat and sunglasses it would be easy. lol!

Things went along smoothly until I got to the faces, where I encountered a struggle similar to painting my “beach girl’s” face. Both faces were partly in shadow and no matter what I did, the skin looked blotchy and unnatural. I realized that, quite simply, I lack the “know how” to paint the highlights and shadows on a face while maintaining the smooth look of skin.

Despite this, I still think I did a decent job. Towards the end, I relied heavily on watercolor pencil, to add in the shading. But the main reason I feel good about this project is that I identified what training I need. Not only that, but I found a book that will help me in this area. I’m very excited to follow along with the step-by-step demonstrations in this book, “Realistic Watercolor Portraits: How to Paint a Variety of Ages and Skin Tones,” by Suzanna Winton.

Here were my steps:
I started sketching in a light watercolor pencil, because I figured I could erase any lines I wanted to. Then I added in the color – except for the faces.
us1 us3 us4

Once I started adding paint to the faces, things got blotchy and funny looking.
usp1 usp2usp3

I went back and forth with paint and pencil trying to get the right shading and trying to get it to look smooth.
usp4 usp5usp6

Author: Eileen McKenna {my creative resolution}

Watercolor Artist, seascape painter, collector of creative inspiration. Sign up for my newsletter for a weekly dose of creative inspiration and to receive the free pdf "Watercolor Basics" – Visit:

7 thoughts on “Painting outside of my comfort zone

  1. So brave!

    • To try painting it or posting it? Lol! My daughter laughed when she saw it.

      • Haha I was going for the painting it… But you are braver than me for posting one your daughter laughed at lol! I really hate when the sketch and the paint don’t add up! I always get angry at the waste of time and get discouraged. Push on! Do it again! Practice practice practice! I think by the end if summer you will be sketching portraits. As a matter of fact… That’s a good way to get the faces into practice. Have you ever painted from a mirror in front of you? I’ll email you the one I did in college if I still have it. It helped, but I hated it… And learned a lot.

      • I have tried a couple of times to sketch myself. I end up looking like an old lady! lol. Maybe I should leave the lines out. 🙂

      • Haha lol ok ok! I always leave out the ‘lines’.

  2. You are doing a nice job showing your process here! People are hard!! Thanks for visiting my blog and I’ll try and show some collage techniques!

  3. Thank you! I’m learning as I go! I’m looking forward to seeing your collage techniques and to trying them out!

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