Did a painting of my friend’s mom. Doing commission pieces is stressful. There’s the pressure of making it perfect and at the same time, the client has to want it. Since this is watercolor, it means starting over…and over … until I get it right.


I had that problem with this piece. I felt that the image didn’t resemble the mom. I had to take a break, work away from the painting for 12 hours before looking at it again, this time in a darkly lit room. That’s when I saw the difference.

When you’re working on a portrait, your eyes adjust to the picture and you see what you wish to see. I admit, it is difficult to tell the difference. Rather than wait for the client to spot the difference, I tried to find way to troubleshoot it myself.

There are several ways you can test for “similarities” according to the tutorial found online:

  1. Look at your image through a reflection in the mirror. It forces both the eyes and brain to see the difference/similarities.
  2. If possible, superimpose the original image on top of the painted image. Then you can check the difference. This is helpful if you’re painting the portrait from a picture. You can do this through a lightbox or scan it and photoshop the layers. I do the latter – it is easier for me. Not only does it show what I drew wrong [like what I did with the painting before this one], it also tells me if I over highlighted an area.
  3. Look at your image in a darkly lit room. This suggestion was given when doing oil paintings. I realized it works the same with watercolor too. Since I did the portrait during the day, I had to turn off the lights in my room and look at the portrait. With just the light of the laptop, I was able to tell the difference. It did help.


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