Painting Faces

Day 23 - #WorldWatercolorGroup Face of a Little Girl Watercolor Portrait - #doodlewash

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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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
Profile photo of Charlie O'Shields
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! If you’d like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!
Published in By Charlie
63 Comments
  1. creatingincolors 4 months ago

    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!

  2. Jodi 4 months ago

    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!

    • YesterdayAfter 4 months ago

      Ahah Jodi you did bring a huge smile on my face with this cute comment! Our Charlie is a perfectionist you know! <3

      • Jodi 4 months ago

        lol

      • YesterdayAfter 4 months ago

        lol

      • Author

        Awww thanks, Carolina! 😃💕 Glad I made you smile! hehe… yes… I wanted it to have a great likeness and be recognizable. It’s not, but still turned out rather cute I guess!

      • YesterdayAfter 4 months ago

        Yes very cute!

    • Author

      HAHA! I love a comment that starts with SHUT UP! lol Thanks so much, Jodi! 😃💕 I was just so frustrated that I couldn’t capture the likeness I wanted. But my reference at least guaranteed an adorable outcome I guess.

      • Jodi 4 months ago

        You surely know it was said with a big ole’ smile – right?! 🙂

      • Author

        Lol… of course! And with a cookie in your hand too, right? 😉💕

  3. mterrazas32 4 months ago

    That an awesome portrait. The skin tone color look great to.

  4. edda blume 4 months ago

    This is a gorgeous portrait – outstanding!

  5. circadianreflections 4 months ago

    Oh my gosh this is so good, and she’s adorable! I bet her mother would love to have this or a framed, signed copy. I’m sure it would be treasured!

  6. M. L. Kappa 4 months ago

    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!💕💕

    • Author

      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

  7. […] via Painting Faces — Doodlewash […]

  8. Jill Kuhn 4 months ago

    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! 😊

    • Author

      Thanks so much!! 😃💕 I’m so pleased you liked how this turned out. Her mom recognized features, but not the overall kid. Lol I at least learned some things to do for the next time.

  9. 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 😀

    • Author

      Awww thanks Rebecca! 😃💕 I appreciate that… I think this is my 4th face attempt, so I’m glad you see progress! yay! Your human faces are amazing!! I can see how much you love doing them. They sparkle!

      • Ah thanks Charlie, I guess who ever came up with that practice makes for progression was quite right….I had to change the perfect part, as I think we are always improving 😀

  10. namelesspublications 4 months ago

    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!

    • Author

      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

  11. GeorgieMoon 4 months ago

    Fabulous painting, so chacterful. I love it.

  12. Agnès McLaughlin 4 months ago

    For someone who doesn t do portraits, that one looks pretty amazing to me ! Lovely sweet little girl….I am looking forward to look at more portraits from you , no doubt as good as this one if not better ……

    • Author

      Awww thanks so much, Agnès! 😃💕 Portraits don’t come easy at all… hehe… luckily nobody has to hear all the cursing I do when trying them. 😊 I’m not sure what it is, but I’ve never found humans a favorite painting subject so it makes practice a little difficult.

  13. YesterdayAfter 4 months ago

    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! 😉 <3

    • Author

      You’re soo right!! hehe… I could have just said it looked exactly like her and nobody would know! Lol But I DID learn a lot while doing this one so that’s a fabulous thing! Thank you my friend! 😃💕

      • YesterdayAfter 4 months ago

        It is always a learning experience any drawing which is what we want! Keep doing your beautiful work! <3

  14. berolahragacomblog 4 months ago

    awesome!

  15. shruti502 4 months ago

    It is indeed a very beautiful and adorable portrait.Do not belittle yourself.Every little detail and nuance is giving real beauty to the portrait.Loads of love to your niece!

    • Author

      Awww thanks so much! 😃💕 I was just frustrated because she’s not immediately recognizable. I wanted it to be “her” but I guess I should settle for cute kid since this is the first time I’ve painted a child’s face. 😊

  16. TBWhittArt 4 months ago

    You’re much more accomplished at faces than you think. I love to draw faces and the expression you garnered on you niece’s face is priceless. All your work is accomplishing shed and good.

  17. memadtwo 4 months ago

    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)

    • Author

      Thanks so much, Kerfe! 😃💕 Yeah, her mom said she didn’t recognize the entire child, but she could see the bits and pieces (eyes, nose, mouth), just all slightly misplaced. Lol But looks like a child so that’s a win!!

  18. creativeworldm 4 months ago

    Awesome.So much beautiful🙇

  19. Gorgeous!

  20. Eric Disney 4 months ago

    Lovely. I am SO inspired by how you continue to push yourself! Great work. <3

    • Author

      Thanks so much, Eric! 😃💕 That’s so wonderful to hear! Yep… keep trying to try new things… hehe…. with varying success, but always a learning experience!

  21. Jacob 4 months ago

    O-M-G, WHOA and other exclamations! <3 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.

    • Author

      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!!

  22. Curious to the Max 4 months ago

    Lovely painting of your darling niece. ( I don’t care if it even looks like her – painting for me about artistic “LICENSE” and interpretation, it’s not photography.)

    • Author

      Thanks for that, Judy! 😃💕 It only bears a vague resemblance. Hehe… I think from the descriptions from people I did manage to capture the personality, but the likeness is still a bit off. But it still reminds me of her, which is the important thing!

  23. Sharon Bonin-Pratt 4 months ago

    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.

    • Author

      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

  24. Mee-Lin 4 months ago

    Keep up the good work!

  25. Myriam (Myr's Bytes) 4 months ago

    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. 🙂 <3

    • Author

      Thanks so much! 😃💕hehe… yeah, I have to admit that the shirt and necklace were more my usual subject matter. Faces terrify me! lol Glad you liked it!

  26. Myriam (Myr's Bytes) 4 months ago

    Oops! I meant to type a red heart. The black one looks a bit sad. ❤️

  27. marianschiltz 4 months ago

    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.

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