Photo by Ayo Ogunseinde - Unsplash

Join Mrs Red's Monthly Portrait Challenge!

As artists, we all lean towards a certain theme and medium to express our creativity. Being a qualified art teacher, I feel fortunate that I can create through a lot of different mediums and themes. However, we all have our favourite themes and mediums and I am definitely no different when it comes to that!

What kind of art are you really good at?

Ask yourself this question, the answer shouldn’t be far away. For me, I am annoyingly detailed in my approach and love ‘still life’ and ‘portraiture’. When I say detailed, I can end up with photorealism if I don't watch it, be it in a graphite pencil, coloured pencils or acrylic paint. This attention to detail for me dates right back to when I was at school and is still often the case as I'm approaching 50 years old. I can start an artwork and positively say that I am going to stay loose and not get lost in the detail but then I find myself in the depths of it. I have spent endless hours over the past 40 years getting absolutely lost in a drawing or painting. This is my happy place, and all my mental needs will be met.

My two themes that I love to explore are Still Life and Portraiture. I am very drawn to old paintings of both, or that the style looks old. I don’t favour a certain artist as such, just drawn to anyone who can produce a great Still Life painting or drawing where time just seems to stand still. And as for portraiture, I am fascinated in the human face and have spent a lot of my university years focusing on the proportions of the human face and figure. I love artists who can keep to loose lines and body proportions not being exact but not looking to abstract either. Once again, my attention to detail always finds it way in!

A couple of examples of my own portrait art that I have done over the years. Left: Oil on canvas. Right: Gelli print, oil pastel, pen and pastel.

What kind of art are you not good at? 

Same kind of question really and again, the answer shouldn’t be too far way. I suck at landscapes, be it drawing, painting or mixed media. Oh boy have I had some shockers! However, as an artist regardless of your experience, you need to find out what your strengths and weaknesses are. That way you avoid disappointment and save a lot of time.


That said, if you find you are really crap at a theme but find yourself pinning a hundred paintings in that theme then find an artwork you really like the style of and give it a go. There are no problems in anyone copying an artwork, if you keep it for yourself and DO NOT sell it on. That is breaching copyright big time. This is an exercise I have done in the past. The idea was that I would paint this painting by Elaine Pamphilion (here is the link to her website ) and then do my own landscape in her style of painting. The painting I copied was of one of the fishing villages of Cornwall, UK, looking up the hill at all the housing with a couple of row boats in foreground. Got to say, I nailed it! The painting looks amazing and to this day (15 years on) this canvas remains on my bedroom wall with the gift card with the original artwork tucked neatly into the back. As for copying her style, I failed at it big time. I am just not a landscape artist and have never again tried to paint a landscape.

Elaine Pamphilion

(Title unknown)

Oil on canvas

Elaine Pamphilion

First exciting glimpse over the cliffs of Porthmeor Beach, St Ives

Oil on canvas

New Ideas!

I myself follow many portrait artists on Instagram and Pinterest who do some fantastic unrealistic works of art using portraiture. Again, I am green with envy, and this is why I am introducing a fun new project to Mrs Red’s art room!

Being an online art teacher, I spend most of my very short time usually creating new drawing prompt lesson plans, creating art boxes with different themes, photographing and selling a lot of art supplies in my shop and I love doing all of this but that yearn to just draw for myself just keeps jumping out at me lately. I have just taken a 4-day break with my husband and visited Tasmania, the most southern part of Australia and it was on this enjoyable time out that I decided I have to commit to creating art for ME and only ME. And this is where the Monthly Portrait Challenge was born!

What is the Monthly Portrait Challenge?

Every month I will release a photo of a well-known celebrity figure. I want these people to be known in most areas of the world and can be actors, musicians right through to the likes of Sir David Attenborough.

Join my Patreon page by clicking here and there are 2 tiers of membership. Depending on your level of commitment you can give will depend on which tier you choose. I just want you to all to get involved in helping me choose a celebrity each month and also vote your favourite artwork for the month.

I must stress the aim of this challenge is to have fun and use media you already have at home. Please don’t feel anyone has to go out and buy new materials as that is not what this is about. I will be setting the example of doing a portrait of a celebrity myself and uploading. I think I am going to stick to a mixed media sketch book and use a variety of media on each portrait. This will help with that need to try and stay loose and not get too detailed. I am thinking 1 hour per week, 4 hours per month. That should be enough time to create an artwork however how much time you spend is up to you.

The mental health benefits of doing a creative exercise on a regular basis is just as important to our minds as physical exercise is for our bodies but perhaps because we cannot see our brains health, we tend to ignore it al little more.

I created this diagram to show exactly what a little bit of creative time on a regular basis does for the human mind. Feed your brain with the best brain food money can buy – by creating art!

I look forward to seeing you on my Patreon page, using art supplies that you already own and to have a go each month at doing a portrait. It's going to be a fun ride!

Mrs Red