I love drawing portraits! And although mine are not super realistic, I feel like I can generally catch the essence of the person I’m drawing, in my own way. But not everyone is comfortable making portraits, so I wanted to share with you some ways to use portraits in your art journal, that aren’t hard or intimidating!
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If you feel like your drawing skills aren’t up to par, why not try a collage portrait? This can be as complex or as simple as you want it. I used collage and paint and ink elements in this portrait collage:
Have you ever tried blind contour drawing? It’s so fun, and so are the results! But blind contour drawing is also good for improving your hand-eye coordination. And because drawing is all about observation, blind contour drawing can help improve your over-all drawing skills.
If you’re not familiar with blind contour drawing, it’s simply this: drawing something while only looking at what you’re drawing (no peeking at the paper at all), while also not lifting your pen (or other drawing device) from the paper once you start. You slowly draw the outline (or “contour”) of what you’re drawing. The results are, well, a lot of fun, if you ask me. And because they aren’t meant to be realistic, you don’t have to worry about any “pretty” or “good” outcome!
If you don’t want to draw (or paint) a realistic face, you can use words (in the shape of a face or head) for your portrait. The words you use would describe the person you are representing, whether that’s you or someone else.
I did this for an art journal challenge on CreativeBug with Get Messy Art Journals, and it was so fun!
I made this next portrait in an almost-monochromatic color palette of blues, just adding pops of pink for contrast in her cheeks and lips. Why not draw a portrait of someone (or a self-portrait) in just one color. Of course, you can opt to add a pop of a different color, just like I did, too!
Another way to practice your portrait drawing skills while incorporating your images in your art journals is by simply using tracing paper (or other transparent paper) to outline a portrait, cut it out and glue it into your art journal along with some complimentary elements.
In this next example I used a two-page spread. As you can see, the portrait (drawn with colored pencils) isn’t perfect. But that’s not the point of art journaling anyway, right? But when drawn next to a page that compliments it, the overall spread looks nice together, and it puts less pressure on the portrait itself to be perfect or realistic.
Want a fun way to draw a bunch of portraits at once, all while being whimsical and fun?! Use a variety of colors (using acrylic paint, watercolor, pens, etc.) to draw the face/head, and then a black (or other colored) pen to draw the facial features. I used black pen, other colored pens, and even paper with patterns on it for the hair on some of these, as you can see below. The point is to just have fun!
If you don’t feel like drawing human portraits, why not draw animal portraits?! Anthropomorphism is when you give human attributes to animals (or gods or other objects) like I did with these two cuties below, wearing human clothes. I imagine these were their engagement portraits.
As you can see, I’m not even trying to draw a (real) specific type of animal. Again, this is all about having fun, not (necessarily) drawing realistic portraits.
You can also draw a portrait in pencil (so you can erase any “mistakes” or parts you don’t like) and finish it off with paint or ink around the portrait itself.
Create something in a more cartoon-y or simplified style. In the portrait below, I used small, simple lines for the facial features. It doesn’t have to be complicated to be a great portrait!
Yes, the example below is also blind contour drawing (can you tell how much I love it?!) But in this case I’ve not only drawn a scene (including two portraits, a doggy portrait, and some plants, etc.) but I also added some water afterwards. The pen was not waterproof, so I got an even looser, almost watercolor effect to my blind contours. It’s just one more way to loosed up your portraits.
You can also make a statement with your portrait. When the focus is on the statement and the portrait, again there’s less pressure on just the portrait. Of all the ways to use portraits in your art journal, this might be my favorite!
If you feel too much pressure drawing right in your art journal, try drawing on another piece of paper. Once you’re happy with the portrait you’ve drawn, you can simply glue it in, either alone or with other elements (as I did, below) for more visual interest.
When I originally created the art in the following spread, my intention was to make something I could sell (I sell my art on my other website, www.julestillman.com). But when I was finished, I realized it was not only not up to my standards for selling art, but it also just wasn’t totally my style. In fact, I had a few pieces that I couldn’t sell (the portrait as well as some abstract pieces), that made it into my journal. I simply collaged them in with another elements into my art journal! I didn’t throw my art away, but I also didn’t have to lower my standards for the art I sell. Win-win!
But it doesn’t have to be just art you may have wanted to sell that you can cut out and incorporate into your art journal. I was just doodling on a page and I ended up liking the portrait below. So rather than just tossing is as a practice drawing (or doodle!) I cut it from the page I was drawing on, and used it in a collage with some other old abstracts that I didn’t want to try to sell.
So there you have it, 15 ways to use portraits in your art journal, that are easy and low pressure! I believe art journaling should be an expression of joy, and a place to practice and hone your own art. Because you’re (probably) not trying to sell your art journals, there shouldn’t be any pressure to be perfect. Just explore and have FUN!
You might also want to see some of the…
Art Journals Used:
- Strathmore Visual Journal
- Canson XL Series Mix Media Paper Pad
- Strathmore Softcover Mixed Media Art Journal
- 4″x4″ Art Journal from Field Artist
- Uni Posca Paint Pens
- Tombow Dual Tip Brush Pens
- Crayola Super Tips Washable Markers
- Prismacolor markers
- Sakura Souffle Pens