This is my beautiful daughter. I took this photo a couple of years ago, and it is my favorite – and it is the one that has finally inspired me to attempt a portrait again, eight years after the last one.

I don’t do faces. Yes, it’s a cop out, but it’s still the truth. I can draw eyes, mouths… I’m really good at the shape of the face, and I lovelovelove drawing/painting hair. But the whole thing? The sum of the parts? Nope. Math is not my subject.

I’m really good however, at drawing what I see. No methodism for me; I take what I’m looking at and break it down into lines and shapes, and I draw those, and it usually gets me pretty close. In this case, I used a projection of my original photo to get the basic outlines down – the shape of the nose, the placement of that ear, where the lines of the fingers go, etc. Then I colored in the outlines. (It’s not as easy as it sounds!)

This was the first iteration, done with acrylics. Then I decided to switch to oils, using a thinner that I was unfamiliar with, and it didn’t work the way I wanted it to. Now I’m trying to get back to where it was before.

One of my challenges as an artist is dealing with unexpected outcomes like that. Once I get into a groove, when something suddenly doesn’t work, I have to put it down and walk away from it completely. I suppose that’s my way of fighting my other instinct, which is to do too much. By now, I know betterĀ than to try to force something that isn’t working. But now I need to work on shortening my cooling-off time.

I’m improving. This canvas was set aside for months, not years.