Ileana Prosper Holman: early sketches

cartoon by Ileana Prosper Holman guest artist at Louise's ARTiculations
Cartoon Guy

As a child, I noticed faces and figures in just about everything; not just in the clouds but on food, furniture, and other inanimate objects. Faces even popped up in my doodles and one day a cartoon character was born. I drew him everywhere…until life got busy and I stopped.

It wasn’t until my 40s that I took an intro to drawing class and focused on portraits. I used celebrity photos for reference.

I tried to capture the essence of my subjects, working light to dark in colored pencil. Instead of stopping when I reached a likeness, I’d often keep going until I ruined the drawings by overworking the faces. Finally, I learned less is more.

Ileana's portfolio began with portraits of celebrities

Brigitte Bardot b Ileana Prosper Holman at Louise's ARTiculations
Brigitte Bardot

While learning to draw portraits, I was an ALF Administrator and working on an “Old Hollywood” series when I stumbled upon something special. I was sharing my work in progress with the residents and not only did they appreciate what a colored pencil could do, the familiar faces triggered memories from their past. They reminisced about all kinds of things, from their favorite movies to their first loves and popular fashions from that era. It was a magical moment and what inspired me to create the Face to Face Art Program (see link below).

Practice is important

For fun and practice, I drew my friends’ profile pictures on social media, which led to a few sales. I entered art shows, painted a mural, and I had a solo exhibit. I won First Place at a Beatles Art Show for my John Lennon portrait. Practice paid off.


Kaleidoscope Eyes by Ileana Prosper Holman guest artist at Louise's ARTiculations
Kaleidoscope Eyes

Continued learning as time goes on

Eventually, I wanted to create more expressive pieces, and Kara Bullock’s Let’s Face It classes and YouTube videos by Casey Baugh, Marco Bucci, and others, inspired me to explore mixed media. I learned that willow charcoal blends and erases easily, making it ideal for the beginning stages of any portrait. It’s a must-have when working freehand, as I do, as it is extremely forgiving.

I played around with acrylics and in my “Women Who Wear Hats” series, used palette knives to create edges and texture and Shiva Paintstiks to blend the clouds and backgrounds. These oil sticks have a rich, creamy consistency and not only layer beautifully, they cure in just 24 hours.

Mixed media, a new favorite

Mixed media is my new love because I appreciate how freeing it is. Whether I’m using acrylic, watercolor or gouache, if I want to add highlights, I can use paint, oil sticks, markers or my go-to pen, the Uni-Ball Signo UM-153 white gel pen. Why stick to just one medium if another can produce a desired effect?

In the beginning I strove for realism, challenging myself to copy what I saw, but now I prefer to draw and paint what moves me in a more expressive style. Although I may start with a reference photo, I allow my hand and heart to take over and create something new and original that hopefully resonates with the viewer.

Where to find Ileana Prosper Holman

Please feel free to contact me with any questions or comments at or visit me on my website, Facebook page,, or Instagram For those interested in the Face to Face Art Program, please visit:

Thank you and remember, it’s never too late to discover a new passion!

Please contact me if you would like to be featured as a guest artist on this website. View other guests artists who have appeared in this space here.

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