I almost never draw human faces, as they are devilishly difficult to do. No matter how close I get, I’m still a few millimeters off from a good likeness or centimeters off from even creating something that resembles a human. This particular little face is of my neice in Paris from a photo I had taken when I visited there last fall. It bears some resemblance, I think, but she’s far cuter in real life. Back when I wrote the prompt for today I was planning on attempt a human face, but I nearly chose a puppy instead as they’re more forgiving. But since this is my month of experimentation, I figured I would dare myself to try a portrait of a person. Or in this case, a rather little person. It’s always terrifying to me to attempt to paint anyone, much less a family member, so this was a good challenge. And I learned a bit about painting faces in the process so that’s never a bad thing.

It’s always amazing to me how just the smallest change in drawing a human face can alter it so severely. I think this is why I don’t enjoy doing it. I love to choose subjects and create a strong likeness, but doing that with people is insanely difficult. One small hair out of place or one little curve of an eye and you’ve invented an entirely new human being. This is stressful for me and I end up getting frustrated. I’m sure I would be better off to choose a completely random person, but strangers fail to capture my heart, which is how I paint. So this little painting, barring a perfect likeness, it at least from the heart as I miss this little girl very much. I only get to see her once a year, and she’s already grown up more since this photo was taken just a few months ago. It’s amazing how quickly our faces change as we grow up. It never seems to stop actually. This I realize as I look in the mirror and notice that new wrinkle that I could swear wasn’t there yesterday.

For many people, painting faces is a fun and joyous thing. You can see it in the paintings they produce as they are full of personality and energy. In mine, I think I’ve given my niece the expression of confusion and wonder that I had while painting this. I won’t likely return to human faces soon, but I will still try them every once in awhile just to force myself to expand my subject matter. In the meantime, I’d really rather be painting peppers or a slice of cake. Nobody will ever know if it’s that exact piece of food or not. I like that. It removes the stress of trying to bring something human to life. But the real lesson I learned is that I only get better at whatever I choose to practice. So if I ever want to improve and learn new techniques, I’ll need to keep pushing myself to try even the things that terrify me. Like painting faces.

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About the Doodlewash

Sennelier L’Aquarelle: Quinacridone Gold, Viridian, Phthalocyanine Blue, Red Orange, Opera Rose, Perylene Maroon, Dioxazine Purple, Burnt Sienna, and Payne’s Grey. Lamy Safari Al Star pen with Platinum Carbon with black ink in a little red cloth hardbound l’aquarelle journal I found in a Paris shop.
Day 23 - #WorldWatercolorGroup Face of a Little Girl Watercolor Portrait - #doodlewash
Posted by:Charlie O'Shields (doodlewash)

Creator of Doodlewash® and founder of World Watercolor Month™ (July) and World Watercolor Group™. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world!

63 replies on “Painting Faces

  1. Omigosh! To me this is a lovely painting full of details – those eyes and face, her hair, and her lovely outfit with the colorful and casually placed beads. I love it!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Oh Charlie! Seriously! SHUT UP! LOL! Look at how adorable she is! You did an amazing job! I want to hate you for being so ridiculously talented…… but I can’t! You are too sweet! BEAUTIFUL!

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Yes, Charlie, SHUT UP! You’re fishing for compliments. Having said that, I understand your feelings entirely. I find portraits extremely hard as well, and have set myself this as my next challenge, since I would like to be able to capture likenesses, of friends and family, especially the kids. I do think, like with anything else, that practice makes perfect. So let’s go for it!💕💕

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Lol! Thanks, Marina! 😃💕 Actually, I was just sharing my frustration because I couldn’t get a great likeness. 😊 But true… practice is the only thing that will help! I don’t know what it is… I want to draw people better, but they are always my least favorite subject matter. I’m sure if I became more skilled I might enjoyed it more. hehe


  4. She is absolutely adorable, Charlie!! ❤ You are amazing!! I especially like how you painted her eyes. I see such love in them. And her face – not easy to get the shadows right. I hope you paint more faces! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Charlie, Charlie, you have got it, I can see so much improvement from the last face I saw you do, this is an adorable painting, so much detail. I am still learning faces, having always avoided them I have now found a love for the human. I can see why you miss her so much, and I love the expression you have captured. Yay 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I think this painting is wonderful! It may be frustrating to paint a human, but practise does make perfect 🙂 I am sure this painting is truly appreciated. I do see the wonder on her face that you described, in fact what struck me most about the painting upon looking at it for the first time was that deep curiosity in the eyes. You have encapsulated it brilliantly – it struck me because it was so similar to the look my niece (who is three) often has!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Awww thanks!! That’s such a sweet compliment! 😃💕 I got lots of her personality in there and some of the features. One day I’ll actually be able to get a likeness. It’s insane how a slight shift can alter a human face. Last time I tried a self portrait I gave myself an unwanted nose job. lol

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Oh Charlie it turned out very good and also if we don’t see her photo it doesn’t matter your portrait is delightful! Well done, I love to paint faces, I was scared before, then I started to create them, without photos as reference so that way I lost the fear to see how alike I was drawing! Keep drawing faces keep pushing and you will overcome the fear! This portrait you did is beautiful so you are going to the right direction! 😉 ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  8. But what a wonderful face! If it’s not an exact replica, you’ve still captured something essential about her. Even photos can make a person look very different from one to another, so don’t be so hard on yourself about the details. (K)

    Liked by 2 people

  9. O-M-G, WHOA and other exclamations! ❤ It's safe to say I wasn't expecting this. What a beautiful doodlewash of a wonderful little character. Such sweetness and life coming through those eyes, and I adore the vibrant colours to her outfit. Whoa! I think I need a lie down. 😉 You knocked it out of the park, Charlie! Hopefully it won't be too long until the next one.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Awww… you’re too sweet, Jacob!! 😃💕 That’s a fantastic compliment coming from someone who’s an ace at portraits!! Thank you!! I only wish I could have captured a true likeness… hehe… but if it’s beautiful than that’s definitely an accomplishment!!


  10. Your little niece is adorable and beautiful and you captured her beautifully – the portrait is lovely. You got her baby cheeks, her little chin, her ears, her big eyes, and that sweet mouth. Most importantly, you got her inquisitiveness. (Of course, I don’t actually know Petite Mademoiselle de Paris – doesn’t stop me from being charmed by her.) You should do more portraits of people – you’re starting out well and you will get better.

    I read somewhere that when thinking about people, we cannot recall the faces of those we love the most because to us they are always changing. Strangers, whether famous or not, we can see in our mind’s eye, but if we can imagine the face of someone we love, it’s almost always a photo of the person. I think this is why it’s hard to paint people – they are always in motion.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Sharon! 😃💕 I think that is true with strangers versus people we know. I think my only successful likeness was of W.C. Fields! Lol I never knew him. hehe And it turned out far better. Her mom recognized all the individual bits you listed at least! hehe


  11. She’s beautiful! And her shirt and necklace are so fun. I think that if you ever become super keen on drawing likenesses, you’ll get the hang of it pretty fast. But often, paintings are cool because they are approximations. 🙂 ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I like the detail you incorporated from the individual strands of hair to the face shadowing on the left side of her face, give yourself a pat on the back for venturing outside your comfort zone. Afterall, that look that you described her having is very true to character at that age.

    Liked by 1 person

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