The Secret to Whimsical Mixed-Media Portraits

I think it’s safe to say that all of us want to make art that is beautiful. But how beauty is defined is as individual and personal as the art we create. A little story for you … I was at a wedding recently when a single man I had been talking with said to me, “This wedding is full of really pretty women,” and I agreed. We were surrounded by friends of the young bride and groom, early 20-somethings who were dressed to the nines. “But none of them are as beautiful as you are, because of the way you think, and who you are as a person.” I thought that was very kind and I thanked him, and then my husband, who was standing with us, said, “Are you trying to get her number? She’s with me, man.”

We all had a great laugh. But it goes to show that beauty is interpreted in ways that go beyond a first glance. Creating mixed-media portraits is one way that you can express the beauty that’s inside of you. I think that’s one of the reasons I’m so drawn to Jane Davenport’s whimsically drawn faces. They’re pretty. The way Jane uses simple artistic elements, such as line and color, are techniques that you can learn, too.

Drawing and Painting Beautiful Faces is Jane’s new book, and it’s full of advice, tips, and techniques for drawing and painting mixed-media portraits. Here’s a little preview, below. (Bonus: scroll down for Jane’s step-by-step process!)
A whimsical mixed-media portrait by Jane Davenport

Whimsical Techniques by Jane Davenport

In each exercise you are invited to join me backstage and see how the final piece comes together. These are techniques I use on a regular basis. You have the best seat in the house, perched on my shoulder as I create artwork in my journal!

I use a wide range of materials and will mention brands and color names for your reference, but you can substitute whatever products you have handy. Having the same supplies I use won’t make any difference to your artwork. What will make a difference is doing the exercises and being open to making mistakes.

Always remember your supplies WANT to get messy, broken, and emptied. Unless you are creating an art supply museum, get everything out of the boxes they came in and into the spotlight.~Jane

Practice a simple warm-up from Jane’s Drawing and Painting Beautiful Faces below. In six steps, you’ll have a pretty mixed-media portrait, and that’s just one of many exercises you’ll find in Jane’s book. Before I go, I’d like to end with a quote from Jane: “My greatest wish is for you to know the joy of drawing faces and to build your own style.” You can start with Drawing and Painting Beautiful Faces.

Pretty is as pretty does,

Have you heard? Cloth Paper Scissors is proud to announce the Zen Doodle Drawing Contest! Enter your best work, and you could win $1,000 and publication. Good luck!

Sign up for the Cloth Paper Scissors newsletter and get a free download on mixed-media art techniques.

From Jane! Here is a simple warm up to get you started right away.


• Gather your favorite pens. I love using ink in a waterbrush.

• Cut an oval face shape from an old book.

• Create a “Draw Happy” face in ink, on the paper.


• Paint bright, rosy cheeks. Let it splotch and puddle.

• Add a color to one side of the face to add depth.

• White paint pen can define eyes and details.


Blog, Mixed-Media Painting Techniques


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.