| | |

Mixed Media Portraits from Kaleidoscope Taster

I had shared earlier about the Kaleidoscope Taster sessions offered by Tamara LaPorte of Willowing Arts. I didn’t get through as many as I wanted before the initial session was closed. Then Tamara generously gave another 7 days of free taster sessions. Yay! I worked fast and furious over the weekend to get in as many as I could. I chose a selection of mixed media portraits. My studio was a scene of chaos for four days!

Art studio strewn about with works in progress and art supplies.
The Crime Scene

Selection Process

I wanted to do all the lessons, but I needed to it narrow down to lessons I could realistically do over the weekend. Although I was drawn to many, I opted to look for artists whose work I had not tried in the past and I wanted to focus on faces.

I also tried to find subjects or techniques that were new to me or outside my comfort zone. I chose two portraits of African American models, Joan of Arc, and a wonky portrait style. The Kaleidoscope Taster sessions and especially the full course dives into color theory for students to gain a better understanding of color theory and color mixing.

Kate Higgins – Joan of Arc in Colored Pencil


Colored pencil layering is a painstaking and time-consuming project. Layers are built up with colored pencils after sketching the portrait with graphite.

Early Colored Pencil Layers of a portrait depicting Joan of Arc
Early Colored Pencil Layers

I wasn’t entirely thrilled with the result, but I imported the drawing into Procreate where I’ll play with it more.

Final Layers of the Portrait

Jenny Manno – Wonky Portrait


Jenny’s style has appealed to me, but I’ve shied away from painting faces that aren’t realistic. In this lesson, Jenny suggested using an analogous color scheme. Analogous colors are those found next to each other on the color wheel.  

This lesson used an interesting image transfer technique that was a total failure for me as I tried to use a marker that didn’t transfer well. I worked through the worst of it and found I liked this wonky style.

Wonky style colorful portrait done in watercolors and markers
Wonky Portrait done in watercolor and markers

Nadyia Duff – Black Female Astronaut Portrait


Nadyia presented another analogous color lesson. The model was of Mae C. Jemison, the first African-American woman to travel into space when she served as a mission specialist aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour in 1992.

I liked this lesson as it used many of the art supplies I’ve gathered over the years but didn’t quite know what to do with them. I used colored pens, alcohol markers, inks, acrylic paint, and watercolor.

I went my own way by including the orange suit and the galaxy background. I like this one!

Portrait of the first African American to travel in space - Mae C. Jemison
Mae C. Jemison Portrait

Dylan Sara – Painting the Gangster Gardener


Dylan presented a portrait of Ron Finley, known as the Gangster Gardener. His story is inspiring as he is committed to bringing gardens and fresh foods to urban deserts.


Dylan used a duo chromatic palette and created homemade inks using beet root and turmeric. I did not have beet root. I had turmeric but not the tea filters to filter it. I did have some acrylic inks in similar colors, so I used them. I may try the homemade inks in the future as the concept aligns with my thought process that making art doesn’t require expensive supplies.

My end result was much bolder than Dylan’s and the subject matter was a challenge to me to get the proportions and values right. Still, I’m pleased with the result.

Portrait of Ron Finley, the Gangster Gardener - done in acrylic inks
Ron Finley – the Gangster Gardener


I learned new ways to use supplies that aren’t always in my “go-to” corner. I Iearned ways to obtain values and colors by layering.  I really liked these lessons. I’m considering buying the full course to delve deeper into color theory.

What do you think? Should I go for it?

Thank you for reading and following me on my journey. I hope you are inspired to start your own creative practices. Join my newsletter below for more tips and techniques for incorporating creativity into your daily life.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *