I am not a painter of portraits.....am I ?

I am not a painter of portraits.....am I ?

I must admit , I have found it difficult these past few days to pick up a paintbrush, the news is so hard to hear.

As a friend said 'Ukraine is just awful. I know intellectually it’s what has been happening in Syria and other parts of the world, but there is something more visceral about it being in Europe - just appalling!'. 

There but for the grace of God...go any one of us. 

and probably like many of you we wonder what to do, I have been collecting things to take to a local collection to help the refugees, and I know there are many charities that will willingly take anything you can spare. I know a lot of it seems futile, but maybe someone will see we are trying and feel some comfort from it.I limit my news intake. and try to find solace in my surroundings.

Last weekend felt much more like Spring , you could almost smell the warmer weather in the air. 

I was so pleased to see the periwinkles making an appearance


I also received the news that I my surgery will be next week, a long awaited surgery to help make me feel better about my body after the breast cancer treatment that thankfully helped save my life, but left me rather lopsided. 

So I am thankful for that, but may well be quite quiet  next week, although I shall still try and post something, it will keep me occupied , and keep my mind off things.


So maybe with everything going on, I was drawn to 'people', I wanted to see if I could paint them

 I have avoided painting serious portraits all my life, I had a go at school and I have had a few requests since then, I even had a go at a commission, but it didn't go well, and I put it all down to experience, I am not a portrait painter....

Then this week , I suddenly thought , let's give it another go. Maybe I have moved on maybe my skills have improved. I am often asked how do you decide what to paint, and I find that if the urge takes me then the enthusiasm for the subject carries me along.

I found some interesting faces on the internet, older faces are what I wanted to do. The lines on our faces, tell the story of a life long lived, with it's ups and downs are what I wanted to portray. Now this is new to me, so taking it a step at a time, and seeing where it goes.

When painting any living thing I start with the eyes, so that's where I started on this piece. If they go wrong then the whole thing is lost.

I looked so carefully at the colours, a little red, yellow, blue. Touches of colour , and she is looking back at me. I am not trying to give you a step by step guide here, I am not sure what I am doing, but I wanted to show you that trying something new does sometimes pay off.

Next I worked outwards from the eye. Noting the lights and darks, Seeing shadows and areas of light. I added colours as I went, yellow ochre, burnt sienna, permanent rose, cerulean blue, burnt umber and cadmium reds. I put all the useful colours in a single palette, and mixed them as I went.


Then I just kept going. Working my way around her features, trying to be bold as necessary, hoping for the best.

Can you see, I added unusual colours to her skin tones, perhaps where they are reflecting the surroundings.

Then to add the sari around her face, I probably went for an easy option here, it meant that half her face was covered. I added bold shadows with a mixture of cadmium red and cobalt blue.

Now I stand back and see what I like and what needs some alteration.

A few tweaks here and there and I am done, and fairly satisfied, it's never exactly what I want but , maybe, just maybe I can paint people


Back to blog


Rachel, your portrait is wonderful, a face full of character and wisdom, beautifully depicted. I received some cards I ordered from you this week. They were intended for friends and relations but they are so beautiful it will be very hard to part with them, they are so lovely, I want to keep them all ! Good luck with your surgery this week, I hope you recover quickly.

Carole Jamieson

This is a lovely piece of work, your lady has so much character, wisdom in her expression and great use of colour, I think you are a very good portrait artist! Yes, like you I am saddened by what is happening to Ukraine but also admiring of their determination to stand and fight for their country.


Amazing Rachel, just amazing. You have captured her spirit so beautifully
Sending lots of love and hope for your surgery as always xxx


I love this. I see her wisdom, strength, courage and also humour in your painting. I wish I couldn’t paint portraits like you 🤣
Your paintings and blogs always capture the spirit of people. I’ve loved them since I first saw them.
Good luck for your surgery. I hope it goes well and you recover quickly and feel more balanced.

Nicola Beattie

I have enjoyed your work for several years now. You’re am amazing poet and artist. The portrait grabbed my heart. Thank you.

Sue Baker

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