Chasing Illustration

I know I haven’t posted much lately, and I do have a few projects in the works, but mostly I have not been giving any attention to my art. I find that sometimes inspiration and motivation to do art comes in cycles, and luckily this time it has been only a couple of months rather than the years in which I once did no art at all!

If you have been following the blog for a while, you’ll know that I’ve had a desire to move away from realism, and yet, really haven’t been able to let it go. The way I handled this drawing forced me to step out of my comfort zone and approach things from an illustration viewpoint…sort of.

I “ruined” the realism in this drawing, and briefly mourned what could have been! Then I let it go.

I did this on purpose, to force myself into a different direction, and maybe even give me the chance to develop a new signature style (or at least an additional option).

I started the drawing the same way as usual: a pencil outline, which I then partially erased in order to avoid interference with the colored pencil. I don’t know why I chose to draw makeup, since I don’t wear it very often. Perhaps it was the vibrant colors?

I didn’t pay much attention to composition, other than to think “I suppose it would be nice to have something vertical going on” (plus the lip gloss kept rolling when I left it horizontal anyway).


I approached the drawing much as I typically do, although I did find myself rushing a bit, maybe in eagerness to see what would happen when I attempted to veer off from realism. I added some colored pencil and began to layer. I didn’t take many photos because the point of this undertaking was ultimately more about style than the process of layering colored pencil.


Here we go: realism, averted! (Or was it?) I added a Sharpie outline to what I had already drawn—harsh outlining tends to be a total no-no for realism. I was a bit sloppy about it, but it’s pretty hard to keep a steady hand for something like this. And I figured: if I’m going out of my comfort zone, might as go all the way out (but also: baby steps). I want to portray some looseness and playfulness in my work, not the precision that has begun to stress me out (and bore me).


There are parts of this drawing that are successful and others less so. I’m not going to get into all of that. What I will say is that, while it isn’t a masterpiece, that wasn’t the goal here. The idea was to try something new and outside of my comfort zone, but that I might be good at.

Full disclosure: I threw in some chalk marker to handle the lettering, which, for this project, I didn’t particularly want to spend a lot of time on.

Here is the final drawing:


I have had a few comments calling my work “illustration” before, and at the time I was not sure that I liked that term, as I had been going for strict realism. But now I realize that it’s okay to be imperfect with realism, which can actually help me develop a more unique and interesting style.

I can play to my strengths as an artist by taking an imperfect yet unique style of drawing and running with it, using it to achieve cool illustration effects that are—when I choose—tinted with realism.   

Now that I’ve claimed to have produced an illustration, I am thinking I will do some research about what actually makes something an illustration. To be continued…


What do you think of this effort? How else would you like to see me approach illustration?



  1. My understanding is that the term illustration is applied to the development of an image for the purpose of showing something in a story. For example, the drawing of Harry Potter on the cover is an illustration of the main character.

    Consider your favorite fiction and draw the first image that comes to mind.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So much of your post resonated with me today!. I strived so long to achieve realism with my graphite drawings and now I’m so over it! I decided to use watercolour to add some abstract elements. But boy it is so hard to let go of that ‘realism’ ! Good luck. Let loose!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Incorporating new elements into our art is always a challenge, and I think it’s even more challenging as we move away from realism toward a “looser” style of drawing or painting. When it comes to stepping out of our comfort zones, even baby steps do count!

    Liked by 2 people

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