Portrait of Baby Toa, oil on linen panel, 10x8 inches

Portrait of Baby Toa, oil on linen panel, 10×8 inches

I really enjoyed making this painting of my friend’s grandson Toa. The biggest challenge was working from a cellphone photo taken in a carseat in the dark where his skin looked dark and bright orange. Fortunately I was able to see some other snapshots with better skin color.

I’ve been taking a new approach to painting; focusing on the joy of creating and letting go of the internal “committee” that demands perfection. I have accepted that my work will never be perfect and that perfect art bores me anyway. A bit of wonkiness, even in a portrait, is ok with me, if I feel I have captured the spark of the subject. I’m painting for myself; if it pleases someone else too that’s a bonus, but not at all a requirement. Giving myself this freedom has completely changed my life.

Below are my initial sketches, a picture of the setup with the photo, and an early stage in the painting.

Drawing, Faces, Oil Painting, Painting, People, Portrait, Sketchbook Pages
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Join the conversation! 10 Comments

  1. Thanks for wonderful and smart advice to turn off the internal committtee looking for perfection. Too many of us forget why we started painting in the first place. Thanks again. I always look forward to your emails.


  2. Wow, Jana! You did a perfect likeness! Your friend should be so pleased. Your skin tone is beautiful.

    I love your new philosophy on “letting go” of perfection. Sometimes I have to chalk an unsuccessful painting to a learning experience or just an enjoyment of the “process of painting”. I paint because it takes me to another world. Not every painting is going to be my best. I have to remind myself that it’s ok. Thank you for sharing your story about giving yourself the freedom to make something not quite perfect. Your paintings are always lovely to me.


  3. I too loved what you said about “taking a new approach to painting and concentrating on the joy of creating and letting go of the internal “committee” that demands perfection”. I too love the bit of wonkiness (even in portraits). And I too want to keep the goal of “painting for myself”. Your portrait of baby Toa is fun and perhaps wonky … I don’t know … but, bravo!


  4. Excellent advice to all artists. Create for yourself–if others like it, that’s a bonus. Beautiful portrait.


  5. What wonderful work! I am sure your friend is very pleased with this gift of friendship. Like you I am trying to move beyond my type A personality and to create just for fun. This year I have not worked much but am having fun creating my ATC Christmas gifts and working with my autistic grandson. I have not yet touched my watercolors but have some new paints to explore so that will happen soon…enjoy your journey. I appreciate your posts.


    • Thank you Linda. Ha ha—that type A personality can be such a drag, I️ know, always wanting more achievement, production, output, success. So nice to allow myself to be a little more Type B or even C sometimes. It sounds like you are having a creative life, making gifts for loved ones and working with your grandson—I️ know that takes a ton of creativity. I️ have autistic family members myself and trying to find a way in and communicate is definitely a creative process. It’s also nice to enjoy our paints just for ourselves too and I️ hope you do get a chance to pick up those watercolors soon. How old is your grandson?


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