This Old Man

I’m proud of this one.

"This Old Man" - Watercolor portrait
“This Old Man”

It’s still a very hard thing for me to say “I like what I’ve done,” but I do like this old man. Each time I do a portrait in any medium, I find myself fascinated by the character and individuality the human face expresses, and I hope I’ve captured a bit of that here.

We have a natural instinct to see faces, I’ve been told. This tendency often leads us to see faces where they don’t even exist, a phenomenon known as pareidolia. It’s why there are grilled cheese sandwiches with holy images upon them, or why we sometimes see funny faces in ordinary, every-day things.

I love seeing faces. Real faces, that is. It’s amazing that our faces are all composed of common features– eyes, noses, lips — and yet each face we see is unique.

Everywhere I go, I look at faces. Sometimes I see one that I know I have to draw. That’s how “this old man” came to be. I was browsing through lessons at The Virtual Instructor, and this fellow was there among the finished pictures. He caught my eye at once.

The project was actually for colored pencils, but for once, I used a little artistic license. I wanted to paint this face with watercolors, building up the skin tones, and adding in those lines and wrinkles that make this face so attention-getting.

I want to do more watercolor portraits. There’s something actually thrilling to me about looking down at the paper and seeing an image come to life. I know I still have much to learn about brush techniques and watercolors, but I am proud of this painting. Instead of looking at its flaws, I like to look at what I’ve accomplished. It might be hard to see the puckered skin above his upper lip, but it’s there. I like this old man’s mouth. I like the deep lines on his face. I like the wrinkles on his brow.

Yes, I’m proud of “This Old Man”.  He’s imperfect, but then again, aren’t we all?


  1. I was admiring your wrinkles and the way you got his neck and shoulders right on…just like they should be. Admiring your wrinkles….Lololol…oh no.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I never thought I’d like doing portraits, but it’s become one of my favorite things in art. I did several with charcoal, and now that I’m working with color, I enjoy the portraits even more. I’m glad some of my feelings came through in the painting.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for the encouraging words. Yes, I see so much life in his face. This was why I knew I had to paint this man. I like to imagine all the places he’s surely been and think about the many things he’s experienced in his long life.

      Liked by 1 person

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