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My Sketchbook


Michelle Vinson

After taking the Illustrating Children's Book class back in October, I was hooked on the Make Art that Sells brand and Lilla Rogers.

I signed up for Bootcamp...which is a 5 month course with a new assignment each month (starting in Jan.), Faces (tips for drawing faces) and MAT A and B which both tap into different markets in the art world...home dec, wall art, children's market, etc. In June, I will join in on the Global Talent Search to compete against 1,000ish artists to be represented by the Lilla Rogers Studio (a dream). 

One of my personal goals this year was to practice faces and portraits and capturing personalities in people. I was thrilled when portraits became a main theme in class. One of our assignments was to create a book cover showing what is in Mindy Kaling's bag (she was my assigned person...who I also love). 

1. Mindy Kaling.


I wanted to create an illustrated character of Mindy, with exaggerated features. When I think of her, I feel like she's always thinking of something witty to say and makes herself laugh...I wanted to that to come across in the illustration (with her curled up lips and sneaky eyes). She wears super bright colors, fun patterns and loves all things girly...while still being the smart, strong woman that she is. I was a little rusty on portrait drawing for this assignment, but it was still a lot of fun.

2. Our March assignment was to illustrate a suffragist or a historic woman. I was assigned Millicent Fawcett. Millicent was a strong British suffragist, a feminist, intellectual, political and union leader, and writer. She is primarily known for her work as a campaigner for women to have the vote. Since this project was little more serious, I wanted to create a more detailed and realistic illustration of Millicent.


Millicent is created with watercolor. The dahlias are also created in watercolor. I scanned in the portrait and cut it out in photoshop and then layered it over the dahlias. I hand lettered her name, also scanned it into photoshop and adjusted the color to compliment her clothing. I created this portrait pretty quickly and had a lot of fun working on it.

Frida Kahlo was not a class assignment, but after painting Mindy and Millicent, I wanted to explore and practice more on people that I admire. Frida was an easy pick because of her gorgeous flower head pieces and clothing, her sad eyes and her story. Her face is certainly not perfect. I could adjust her nose and eyes and every little detail. However, it is still fun to see the difference in 3 different pieces throughout 3 months. If I dig up some super old portrait work from college and in my would also be fun to compare. 


Frida was also created with watercolor and gouache paint. I started with her eyes. I feel like if you mess up on the eyes, a portrait is ruined. So...if I start there first, I'm usually okay. Hair is probably my favorite part of illustrating people. I love to paint each strand and get the shadows and highlights just right. The nose is always the hardest for me. It's amazing how drastic the shape of a nose can change over the tiniest line or shadow. And, clothes are the fun final touch. 

More to come on portraits. Who should I paint next?