The Return of the Pink Princess…

Graphite pencil illustration of Kirsten

I’m back with Part 2 of my attempt to draw portraits of “real” people.  (You can read Part 1 here).  This portrait is of one of my lovely yoga students, Kirsten.  I finished the graphite pencil part of my portrait a couple of weeks ago and this week it was time to finish it off with a bit of colour.

Failure is not an option

I don’t really like this piece!  After messing up the graphite pencil work on the neck and chest I wanted to throw it in the bin and start again.  I am a bit of a believer that if it’s not happening, if I’m not enjoying, if it’s not going to work …then it’s time to chuck it in the (overflowing) unfinished artwork drawer.

“If at first you don’t succeed, give up” – Homer Simpson

I know that sounds like really defeatist attitude, but sometimes the most productive thing you can do is walk away… at least for a while.  Rather than throw it away I took a week break to hopefully renew my enthusiasm.  I knew Kirsten would really want to see the final product, so I had to get stuck back in and finish it off.

Graphite pencil illustration of Kirsten

Colour my world

My plan was always to paint the dress with watercolour and then add a flat, almost poster-paint-like, pink background with gouache paint.  I painted the dress in a rose watercolour and then turned my attention to the tiara.

The original John Galliano tiara had green glass beads around the base, what can only be described as tinsel/pipe-cleaner crests and all held together with a poo-brown pipe cleaner.  I think I probably attempted to make something very similar to this in kindergarten. It’s ‘fashun’ darling …fashun!

John Galliano Spring 2018

I added a touch of watercolour to the green beads and pink tinsel but my tiara was still looking a little lacklustre (okay …shit.  It looks pretty shit).  As much as I’d been avoiding it, it was time to admit it needed a bit of blinging up.

Another trip to the art shop required??  Why of course!


When in doubt just add glitter

Me: Just gotta go in to town pick up my …dry cleaning

S: Great I’ll come with you

Me: Umm gotta go to the supermarket too (that’ll stop him – no man likes grocery shopping)

S: No problem

I have this weird shopaholic guilt about how much money time I spend in the art shop.  Even though I am an independent woman (The shoes on my feet, I’ve bought it, he clothes I’m wearing, I’ve bought it, The rock I’m rocking, I bought it etc etc), I still feel guilty.

My husband (bless him) honestly does not really care how I spend my money but I still feel a bit guilty for spending money on a hobby (paying bills, buying food, paying utilities and a mortgage seem like things a grown up should prioritise over… well… buying glitter.)

Me: Okay but I just gotta duck in to Officeworks

S: Okay what for?

I kinda figured “Officeworks” says business = necessary, vital, budget friendly, tax-deductible stuff.  Art shop says flakey, ANOTHER pencil/paintbrush/paint, expensive, small shit.  And yes I SUPPOSE I could get what I want require at Officeworks whereas at the art shop I’m likely to buy what I want and then some.  But damn now I’d fibbed myself in to a corner.  Officeworks it was to be.

I live in the smallest, shittiest, town but does Officeworks care?. (that’s not quite true. I live in the most beautiful seaside village but the nearest “town” is pretty shitty)… No they don’t!.  They stock it like it was an Officeworks anywhere else on the planet.  Hundreds and hundreds of pens, pencils, fine-liners.  I am a kid in a candy shop.  My, might I say – very restrained, mini-haul consisted of:

  • Pentel Sparkling Metallic Lines Pigment Gel Ink – Pink
  • Uniball Signo Nobel Metallic Gel pen – Pink
  • Uniball Signo Nobel Metallic Gel pen – Silver
  • coffee machine cleaning tablet (spontaneous random purchase)

I know I have built this up to be leading to a quite exciting explosive of pink, silver, glitter…. alas I used all of my haul (except the coffee tablet) and …. YOU CANT EVEN TELL!  I’d love to say on the original piece it looks great … yawn.


Paint it pink

Normally I would have contemplated using Photoshop to create a pink background and thus avoiding messing the original up if it didn’t go to plan.  But at this point I really felt like I had nothing to lose any more so why not just go for it.  This piece was becoming a test piece for all the things I want to do when I do the REAL drawing.  It is actually quite liberating to have a drawing that you don’t mind testing stuff out on.

I love using gouache.  It’s so much more forgiving than watercolour.  If you make a mistake, yay you can just paint on over it.


I am in two minds about the pink background.  Since I just slapped it on without a great deal of care, it looks quite rough and “painty” (technical arty term).  In my head I had intended a very smooth flat background but I quite like that it looks a bit more textured and handmade.

Still I couldn’t resist playing around with a bit of Photoshop.


I still don’t like it very much.

On the plus side I think I drew Kirsten’s face really well and the dress turned out much better than I expected.  On the negative side; I hate the neck, I don’t much like the hair or the crown.  I think it was quite ambitious of me to be attempting to capture the crown anyway!

Lesson learnt? Stay away from blending. It is not my thing and I need to just accept that.

I’ve not given up though. I am going to try drawing another REAL person soon, I just need to find another willing victim.


The Tools

Arches Drawing Paper 185gsm smooth A3

Tombow mono drawing pencils 

Staedtler Mars Lumograph black 6B and 4B

Winsor and Newton Artists Water Colour

Daler Rowney designers gouache 


PS Big thanks to Kirsten 😻


One thought on “The Return of the Pink Princess…

  1. Pingback: Am I a “Real Artist” yet?

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