Phone Booth Portrait

Phone Booth by Charlie O'Shields

So after some coaxing by many of you, I decided to try my first doodlewash portrait. This is sketched from a photo of Philippe that I took a few years ago, and believe it or not, we were still in Kansas City! This is the Westport neighborhood that I mentioned in a previous post and an old British phone booth there. And this doesn’t quite look like Philippe.

I realized the reason I’m personally not a fan of portraits is that I’m not very good at getting a likeness of a specific person. A fraction of a line off here or there and suddenly you’ve made an entirely different person or worse, something dark and unnatural that doesn’t look human at all.

It’s not very satisfying and really stressful for me. In short, I don’t really enjoy doing portraits. I still prefer architecture, animals, birds and people just hanging out in the background of a scene without trying to step up and grab focus. Philippe says I should keep trying them, so I’ll probably give it another shot somewhere down the road, but not right away.

I still like the outcome as I thought the phone booth turned out fairly well, and this does indeed look like some man is standing in front of one. It’s also fun that it’s still a shot of Kansas City and not somewhere in London. Behind this particular phone booth is a red caboose which adds to the unexpected atmosphere of this area of the city.

Westport was originally a town that was annexed by Kansas City in 1897. Now it’s a prime entertainment district with shops, restaurants, bars and night clubs. This weekend was the annual Westport Art Fair where they block off the street to display work from top artists showcasing their original art, unique jewelry, fine crafts and more. We didn’t go this year, preferring to stay home and quietly doodlewash our own little pieces of art, far away from the crowds.

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66 Comments
  1. amaryllislog 2 years ago

    Well, whoever the man is that you painted, he is very handsome and I think he looks exactly like Phillippe. I know, I know, I have never seen Phillipe! I love the red phone booth framing him, a very wonderful composition and color story! Three cheers for Phillipe!

    • Author

      Lol…thanks Cathe! That made me giggle my friend!! I just read your comment to the real Philippe and he laughed! 😃❤️ So happy you like it! I was pleased with the drawing, but just wanted to get a better likeness. He said it looked like him from the top of the nose up, but I gave him “frog mouth,” whatever that is. Lol

      • amaryllislog 2 years ago

        Hum, if that’s a frog mouth, I’ll take one of those too please!

        I like the underlining theme of all the comments – we should follow our desires and paint what strikes us!

        You know what’s so cool, we all paint in our unique styles and come together to rally and encourage!

      • Author

        I know!! Thanks for that Cathe. I’m always a great cheerleader for other people’s work, but stink when it comes to cheering myself on! That’s why I love you all so much! ❤️❤️❤️We have such a wonderful and supportive community here! 😃😃

  2. Kari 2 years ago

    First, the phone booth is amazing! And I don’t know what Phillippe looks like so I cannot judge the likeness but the love the portrait! You even got the texture of the sweater! I cannot do a portrait in watercolor alone. I always use colored pencil for shading and features. I love drawing faces but I don’t often do actual portraits. Great piece!!

    • Author

      Thanks so much Kari!! ❤️I’m super happy you like it. I got fairly frustrated during it because I couldn’t get the face right so I switched to the sweater which I could somehow figure out better! lol There’s actually a photo of Philippe on my About page I just remembered, but it’s stylized as we were playing with a beret his brother sent him from Paris. 😊

      • Kari 2 years ago

        A nice picture of Phillippe with the beret. But it was too dark for me to see the features. I do understand the frustration as I experienced them when I try to draw real people. I have tried using a grid when I really wanted to get the features right but that’s too much work.. 😊

  3. memadtwo 2 years ago

    I’m agreeing here: it is a wonderful piece. Great composition and color and it looks exactly like Phillipe. I know, I don’t know what he looks like either but that doesn’t really matter, does it?

    • Author

      That doesn’t matter at ALL! So it’s settled then…perfect likeness! Yay! Hehe… thank you so much!! I really appreciate the encouragement! 😃

  4. OK, ditto what everyone just said, Charlie. This is a wonderful painting, and a fantastic portrait. I love all the shades and shadows on the face in particular. I hope you don’t stop trying them! I really enjoyed this painting…..may be my favorite of yours yet! Oh, and the animals you’ve done were right up there too, for me. Love this! 😀

    • Author

      So happy you like it Laura! Thank you! I was pleased with the result, but just enjoy sketching animals and architecture more. I guess if I just keep practicing maybe I’ll develop a love for people heads too. Hehe…. Philippe really wants me to keep trying as well. Probably because he wants a better portrait of himself! Lol 💜💜😃

      • LOL! You should do whatever calls you loudest. But I just think it’s funny sometimes the subjects that scare us away seem to be the ones we’re meant to do. I never ever ever would have tried drawing a person (since failing over and over in high school) until I went to open studio, where they had a model. The first model, I just did my own thing and watched the other artists. The second time though, I joined in. Then I drew a portrait and right away people could recognize it. I am still astounded at this since I could never do this over twenty years ago!! Still, the thought of painting a portrait really scares me. So I know what you’re saying……I just think you definitely have “it” in you!

      • Author

        Thank you my friend!! And wait a second…you just admitted that you have it in YOU as well!! So… you know what that means… I smell a challenge coming! Seriously…. do a portrait Laura! It would be magical coming from your hand! ❤️😃👍🏻

      • Lol have you clicked the “famous faces” category on my blog, by chance? I used to do them all the time – but in colored pencil. I guess your challenge is for watercolor? Eek!

      • Author

        Haha…yes…I know you can do them! I’m challenging you to do it in doodlewash! 😉 Hehe… but in all seriousness I used to sketch in charcoal and conte crayon and could get a fairly good face to come out. Watercolor is tough in portraits! But, all the more reason you should totally try it! 💜😉

      • I shall muse on it some more! I thank you for your encouragement, Charlie. I still haven’t tried furry animals in watercolor yet! I’m behind in Charlie Challenges lol.

      • Author

        Better get on it! Hehe… but, as always, follow your muse. Do what inspires you friend! I mean, I’m also that, but I’m more of your militant muse, demanding things I want. Not the same. 😉

      • I’m working on trees now. You tried an abstract though! I shall choose a furry animal or face to paint. I’ll call it the Charlie Challenge! :))

      • Author

        Excellent!! It has a great ring to it too! ❤️

      • Doesn’t it ?! 👏😉🎨👍😀

  5. Jodi 2 years ago

    Oh Charlie – you ARE good at portraits. Even if it doesn’t look like Phillipe, you created a very handsome version of him! Or is he even BETTER looking! 🙂 If so, you are a lucky guy!

    • Author

      He’s actually much better looking than this! That’s why I got frustrated! Lol… And I am a really lucky guy. 😊 Thanks so much Jodi for your sweet words. ❤️😃

  6. Jodi 2 years ago

    I love the facial hair and the hair and the look in his eyes and the shading of his face and neck – and oh! the outfit too!

    • Author

      Hehe…thanks friend! It’s a pretty great outfit he had that day. But again…he’s better looking than this so I’ll have to try again in the future! Hehe 😉

  7. Jacob 2 years ago

    So this is what you spoke of earlier Charlie, I hadn’t seen it at the time… I really like it! Certainly it has the charm I spoke of; a handsome (and very human!) figure with nice skin tone and simple touches of shade which work really well. What’s more, it’s lifted by the background – something I often really struggle to achieve. Great stuff; I look forward to seeing you tackle it again, if you choose to.

    • Author

      I think I posted this right after I commented! Hehe… Thanks so much Jacob! That means a lot coming from such an accomplished portraitist as yourself! 😊 I can’t thank you enough for your kind words and encouragement friend! 💙

      • Jacob 2 years ago

        Ah, don’t mention it Charlie – with exciting results like this, it’s a total pleasure! 🙂

  8. Teresa Robeson 2 years ago

    This is totally awesome…I love how the red, the angular lines, and the shape of the booth sets off the organic curls and curves of Philippe’s hair and face! I agree with Philippe: you should definitely continue doing portraits!

    • Author

      You’re so sweet Teresa! Thank you! I’ll definitely try it again. Maybe on a subject that I don’t actually know well! Could be easier! Though I owe him a better one at some point! Hehe 😉

      • Teresa Robeson 2 years ago

        Yes, try painting a stranger! Maybe even from just looking at a magazine? Share your future efforts with us!

      • Author

        That sounded like a list of instructions… LOL… guess I better do it! 😉

  9. kirkistan 2 years ago

    What a wonderful sketch! I like everything about it. Great portrait. Great spelling of “telephone” backwards. Great shading and shadow. That is a keeper! Well done, Mister.

    • Author

      Thanks Kirk!! 😃😃😃I’m equally glad that you got access back to my site apparently!! Yay! So glad you like it…and I did get it spelled right backwards right?! 😳 lol I really wasn’t sure about this photo I found because it had text in it. That’s always so hard to do for me!

      • kirkistan 2 years ago

        Backward text is killer. But you even seemed to incorporate the serifs. Hat’s off to you.

      • Author

        Thanks for noticing!! I did attempt to jam some of those little babies in there.

      • kirkistan 2 years ago

        All that little stuff you put in makes it so believable. Your eye for detail is great.

      • Author

        Thanks! I feels sometimes it’s also a bit of a curse as I want to sketch faster and abstract things a bit more.

  10. memadtwo 2 years ago

    I know Nina commented, but I have to chime in too. A painting is not a photograph and this is a wonderful painting. And, as you know, people look different in different photos, too, so just what is an exact image or portrait?…I’m positive it has the feeling or spirit of Philippe, regardless of the actual mirror imageness it may contain.

    • Author

      Awww thanks Kerfe! That’s such a wonderful thing to say. I really appreciate yours words and the encouragement. I’m extremely shy about painting people. 😊 Thanks so much for that!!! ❤️

  11. Jill Kuhn 2 years ago

    I’m super duper IMPRESSED with your portrait of Philippe! I think you are being hard on yourself, Charlie! But I totally understand! I am such a perfectionist myself. I’d say keep doing what you LOVE drawing but maybe, just maybe try a portrait again some day. And maybe start with someone you do NOT know. Then maybe it will be easier. 😊🎨💜

    • Author

      Thank you so much Jill!!! And excellent advice…I think the familiarity added to the stress. I’ll pick a random victim nice time for sure!! 😉💜

  12. artandmoondreams 2 years ago

    Fantastic work! Please do not be so hard on yourself, this is wonderful. You have such a great eye for detail and you convey character so well. Love the eyes and how they are looking off into the distance, love the shadows and saturation of color. I do hope you continue, you are a talent. Peace.

    • Author

      That’s so sweet of you to say Haunani! ❤️Yeah…I think as others have said, it helps if you don’t know the subject. I’ll definitely try more but pick a stranger next time! Hehe Still…not sure humans will ever trump animals for me, but who knows! My journey is just beginning! 😉

  13. Nicola 2 years ago

    This is really great. Getting an exact likeness is really, *really* hard so maybe don’t focus on that. You’re just drawing people and as long as they look like people then they don’t need to be anyone in particular.

    • Author

      Thank you friend!! ❤️😃I think I just need to hear that a lot, Nicola…hehe… it’s hard not to be hard on myself. I go in wanting to get it “right” sometimes and then realize there’s really no such thing as long as it looks good in the end! 😃

  14. Sand Salt Moon 2 years ago

    Well done on all accounts. My thinking is it’s ok to not look exactly like the person – it should have your touch to it. How you see Phileppe.

    • Author

      Thanks! You’re right…the frustration was that I saw him as being much more attractive than this! Lol But just couldn’t get my hands to make it that way. I just need more practice! 😉😊 But you’re right, if it looks good in the end, who cares who ends up in it! Hehe

      • Sand Salt Moon 2 years ago

        That’s so sweet that you see him as much more attractive – he looks extremely handsome here. You should ask him to sit for you and paint from real life next time. xo

      • Author

        Hehe…I don’t think either of us could sit still for that long 😊😊

  15. Sharon Mann 2 years ago

    Well it’s all about practice, right! Beautifully rendered! Thanks for the history on Kansas City, I’m enjoying the tour. Have a great day Charlie!

  16. Snehal Kank 2 years ago

    Great job done about portrait ! Perfect frame, specially telephone booth I love it!

  17. In Art Therapy 2 years ago

    This is wonderful! Love everything about it!

  18. […] have to agree! But this was super fun anyway! After trying my first portrait which caused the same angst, I definitely understand what she was saying. I don’t know why […]

  19. Portraits are my nemesis too – I can’t help but do a couple every year but they almost always drive me to despair in my quest for “perfection”. Then again, I’m like that with everything … 😉

    • Author

      Hehe… me too I think. I’ll still try them occasionally but having to be so careful and accurate with proportions make me insane. I don’t think I’d ever love them unless I could get really good at them. 😊

  20. beautiful portrait – very expressive yet understated… thank you for sharing 🙂

  21. ann christina 2 years ago

    As I don´t know what Philippe looks like, this looks awesome to me! Wonderful portrait and painting!!! Hope you´ll give it another try! 😊

    • Author

      Thanks Ann!! ❤️😃I will…because Philippe told me too! Lol But it was super frustrating!! His picture in on my about page, but it’s dark and avant guard so it’s hard to tell. Lol

  22. kungfunaomi 2 years ago

    Hey! If it’s a passable human being, them be happy! 😀 Maybe it’s a guy that looks strangely like Philippe…

  23. Rachel Murphree 2 years ago

    Charlie, you do a great job on architecture! I’ve had a fab time looking over your doodlewash posts. Congrats on the new job! Kansas City looks like a fun place with cool architecture. Good for you for trying portraits! I like this one of Philippe. neat how you have him framed with the british telephone box. I’ve recently tried to draw a portrait of my older daughter for class, intending to paint her this next week, and the following two weeks in another painting group we’re doing portraits. I am NOT a big fan of portraits. but it’s a good learning experience, n’est ce pas?

    • Author

      Thank you so much Rachel! 😃 That’s exciting that you’re doing a portrait! I can’t wait to see it! And yeah…I’m not a fan of drawing them, but that’s actually all the more reason to DO it! Lol I like architecture so I draw it more, and I’m best at it. A surprise to no one! Hehe…if I just drew people more I would probably get good at them too…eventually. Can’t wait to see your portraits! 👍🏻😃

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