The Portrait Project: Looking Back

The Portrait Project: Looking Back

Posted by Robyn Wall on

“Have no fear of perfection, you’ll never reach it.” – Salvador Dali

Growth is a funny thing in that, we often set out with the purpose of growing but along our journey we fail to see how much growth is actually occurring. We think we are not doing enough. And then we look back and realize how much we’ve achieved. 

Over the course of three months, I set out on a journey of growth to improve my skills and position myself as an expert in portraiture. It was also a goal of mine to try and curate a portrait style for my work that would make it identifiable. In order to achieve these goals, I thought that applying some guidelines would help.

“I think that applying some rules will not only create a cohesive collection of portraits but also push me in my exploration by confining my reach.

First, I will limit the size of each piece to 10x14 inches. I'll be using Arches Hot Press paper for a high-quality, smooth finish to every piece.

Second, I will complete each portrait using either a monochrome or duochrome color pallet. I may paint the pieces in different colors so long as there are no more than two colors within the piece itself. 

Third, at least half of them will have irises and pupils to demonstrate my ability to step away from the ethereal technique and complete something even more realistic. 

Fourth, some will be traditional portraiture to expand my application techniques and increase my skill level. Others will be more creative or surreal to explore new styles and expressionism.”

However, I found myself, by the sixth week, stuck in a box I no longer wanted to be in. Specifically the second ‘rule’. I became unexpectedly obsessed with broadening my color pallets and decided to follow my urge to pursue colors. Spending almost as much time on curating the perfect color pallet for my piece as I spent working on the lines of the composition. 

“Passion is one great force that unleashes creativity, because if you’re passionate about something, then you’re more willing to take risks.” – Yo-Yo Ma

So, let’s take a look back at the ten portraits I completed during The Portrait Project.

Favorite Piece Overall:

Jaden Smith


The most influential reason I love this piece is because it seems the most photo realistic to me. But the color pallet and style are also one of my favorites from the project. The colors are ones I would usually never lean towards but I like how they vibe together. 

Least Favorite Piece:

Bob Ross


He just didn’t turn out as well as I had hoped. Something went wrong when I was transferring the sketch to my watercolor paper and the proportion of his mouth got messed up. I think one of the only reasons this portrait is so recognizable is because of the surreal approach I took making Bob’s face part of a painting which is reminiscent of those he became known for. 

Personal Favorite Piece:

Hayao Miyazaki


I have always loved Ghibli movies. One of my all time favorite films when I was a child was My Neighbor Totoro. It’s still one of my favorites to this day. That’s the first reason. The second is that I absolutely love the portrait style. I think it fully captures the essence of a creator. Having his characters pouring from his head represents what it is like to be an artist bringing your dreams to paper. This is a piece I'll be keeping for my personal collection.

Peoples Choice:

To Be Announced

Vote for your favorite piece from The Portrait Project!


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