Today’s submission comes from artist Matthew Enns. He has completed this portrait in colored pencil. I love the limited color palette on this one! The whole feel of the piece is very peaceful, which was the title for the drawing, so great job in capturing that!

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You said in your submission that you used some reference photos to judge the position/angle of the head and that you studied lilies for the flowers but otherwise it was from your mind’s eye. You stated that the piece looked cartoonish but you were not sure why or how to fix it. Your first sentence pretty much answered your own question. While you did a GREAT job of drawing this mostly from memory, you have to remember that portrait artists do not work from memory. They generally either have a live model or work from a photograph. If you want your work to look more realistic, you’re going to want to start using one of those two options.

I’m not sure why there is this idea out there, usually from very young artists/teenagers that you’re cheating or not as good if you use reference material. That is absolute insanity from people who live in a fairy world. For those of use living in reality, who want to paint and draw things very realistically, we collect reference photos. Either photos we’ve taken ourselves, or from royalty free websites. The word “photorealism” came from the movement of artists who used photos as reference to paint super realistic and accurately detailed work. It’s in the name!

Besides using reference photos to get a more anatomically correct drawing, I want to suggest using other colors in black hair to add your highlights. If you just use white like you might in other shades of hair, it not only looks flat, but grey, so you end up aging your subject. Try using light blues or purples which will not only add depth, it will keep her looking her intended age!