Acrylic Portrait Sketches: Poe and Einstein

Acrylic Portrait of Edgar Allan Poe
© 2014 Mellanie Collins
5.5″ x 8″
acrylic on paper

Last month I decided to take a break from artist trading cards and work on something larger.  I found an old 5.5″ x 8″ mixed-media sketchbook that I had not quite finished and and some tubes of black and white acrylic paint so I decided to practice acrylic portrait painting.

I find that I really enjoy painting portraits in acrylic despite the fact that a sketch like this would have probably taken much less time if I had used oil paint.

© 2014 Mellanie Collins 5.5" x 8" acrylic on paper
© 2014 Mellanie Collins
5.5″ x 8″
acrylic on paper

I start with a basic sketch and then just build the image with lots of thin layers of paint.  I make sure that I move from dark to light,  just as if I were working with oils.  My method is probably a lot more tedious than it needs to be, but I like the results.


**Have you seen my Facebook page? I’m posting more process photos over there. Check it out. **

Another Thurgood Marshall Sketch

Thurgood-Marshall-drawing5.5″ x 8″ pen and markers

In the past I’ve occasionally posted some drawings for Black History Month. Since it’s that time again, I thought it might be fun to revisit some old subjects.

Back in 2010 I did a sketch of a young Thurgood Marshall  (July 2, 1908 – January 24, 1993), the first African American on the Supreme Court and the lawyer who argued the famous Brown v. Board of Education case before the Supreme Court.  This current sketch was drawn from a photo taken in 1967, around the time he became the court’s 96th justice.

I’ve always been fascinated by his story: the grandson of a slave, who initially went to college to study medicine and become a dentist, eventually becomes an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.  Check out his biography on Wikipedia.

Creating Every Day in 2013

Mellanie Collins, self-portrait, 2013

Today I signed up for the Creative Every Day Challenge.  I’m committing to doing something creative every day in 2013.  What I like about Leah Piken Kolidas’ challenge is that it calls for creativity in it’s broadest sense. So while I may draw or doodle some days, I can also practice my ukelele, take some photos, try a new recipe, or get my garden back into shape.

I often need to remind myself that being creative isn’t always about my drawing and painting.  It’s about anything I do that gives me room to express who I am and allow me to stretch my wings as I strive to live more authentically.

I’ll not post everything I do, really, you don’t want to see it all. But I’ll be updating much more frequently than I have in the past.

So this is it.  I dove in with this self-portrait in my sketchbook.  We’ll see where 2013 takes me.


Welcoming 2013 With New Confidence

drawing of Martin Freeman, actor
sketchbook page – brush markers

The other day I whining about how little progress I thought I had made over the last couple of years.  I’d been sick with a cold and generally whinging about everything I could think of.   Last night, since I felt better I got out my sketchbook to do more practice drew this drawing of actor Martin Freeman.  I remembered that I had done a drawing of Freeman in 2008  posted it here on the blog.  Wow, what a difference.  When I look back at that post, I realize that I have made progress with my drawing.

I tend to forget that with every drawing we make, there is progress.  So I plan to fill more sketchbook pages and not worry about progressing with drawing.  I’ve had enough experience to know that if I just keep going there will be bad drawings, but there will also be some good ones and eventually the good ones will get even bettter.

So Happy New Year everyone and happy drawing.

Everyday Matters Challenge #34: Fall Leaf

2.5"x3.5"  watercolor
2.5" x 3.5" watercolor

It’s been so long since I’ve done one of these Everyday Matters challenges.  I really miss them.  I have been up to my ears in artist card trading (my own fault) and I haven’t had much time to draw for myself.  I had to ask myself, when was the last time I sat down with something and really connected to it through my drawing.  I realized it had been too long.  I grabbed my list and thought, hey, there are a few leaves out there, why not paint one.

It was time for something completely different, so I grabbed my watercolors.   I had some success with my crow done in ink and watercolor, so I wanted to try something splashy and colorful with no reliance on hard thin lines to make the image come together.  I wanted to stop coloring in the lines and get a little crazy.

Colors used:  Grumbacher Academy gamboge, raw sienna, scarlet lake, cadmium red medium, and ultramarine.  Cheap paints, but okay to practice with.  I’m going to get some Winsor & Newtons soon, when I find a good sale.

These were all applied in a haphazard fashion.  I did know enough to let my layers dry to avoid muddy color.  Being in a playful mood helped me to get over trying to control the outcome of the painting.  I think it’s pretty good for a start.  Please tell me what you think.  I sure could use some pointers.  What are your favorite instruction books or videos?  Are there any demos on Youtube you enjoy?

Pencil Portrait Sketch: Emma Watson

Emma Watson
Pencil sketch - Emma Watson as Hermione Granger

I just realized how close we are to the end of the year.  I was looking back at the drawings I made this year and came across this sketch I did back in January.  I posted it on Flickr but never posted it here.  I wonder why, since I like this sketch quite a bit.   

When I first finished it, I was just pleased that I had managed to make the hand look plausible.  But over time, I really came to enjoy the expression that emerged here.  I think it’s a little more wistful than the reference I used. 

This is 8″x8″  and sketched with an Ebony pencil.  I think these are the best overall sketch pencils if you want to draw loose and let yourself go.  It’s a nice fat pencil that feels good in your hand.  You can get a good range of tone with just the one pencil.  I used to buy them by the handfuls.

Portrait Swap With Enerene74


I was looking through some Flickr contact pages the other day and I came across this drawing of me. Enerene74 used to do a lot of sketches of fellow artists on Flickr. I enjoyed them a lot. Unfortunately he has been busy and not sketching much. I was delighted to see that he made time to do a sketch of me. I think he did a great job capturing my smile.

I did this sketch to return the favor. I am pleased to report that he likes the sketch very much.