The UK burlesque scene

There are just so many good burlesque performers hailing from the UK. Missy Malone, Anna Fur Laxis and Miss Miranda to name a few, travel the whole world to perform their tassel twirling, shimmy shaking magic. Here’s my ode to all my UK girlies, thank you for the inspiration! From top to bottom: Missy MaloneScarlett Daggers, Anna Fur Laxis, Lady Wildflower and Cece Sinclair. I’m sure there’s many more drawings to come.


Tiny multicoloured hair painting – tutorial time!

tutorial watercolour pin-up girlWant to make your own pin-up portrait? Just follow the steps below. You’ll need postcard sized watercolour paper, a pencil, pots of water, a medium watercolour brush, a detail watercolour brush, fine ink brushes, India ink and of course a (basic) watercolour box.

First of all, here is a very quick and dirty guide on how to sketch a stylised pin-up face.

pinup drawing tutorial

pinup watercolour tutorial painting     pinup watercolour tutorial painting

1. Use a fine mechanical pencil to sketch. Apply a minimum amount of pressure to reduce dents in the paper. Tip: make some sketches on a piece of (scrap) paper first and then transfer the design you like the most onto the watercolour paper. Keep that paper neat!

2. Use the ink to draw in the eye shape. The eyes are the focal point of this pic! Lay down the main colour with a thicker brush. Don’t forget that you can’t go lighter with watercolour. It’s a good idea to use the paint very diluted first and then work in the darker colours and shadows. Especially the highlight on the lip should be a thin layer of watery paint. By the way, for the skin tones I use a mixture of ochre, Sienna and light red.

pinup watercolour tutorial painting     pinup watercolour tutorial painting

3. While the base layer of skin coloured paint is still a bit wet, focus on the blushy cheeks. Use a pink colour for this. Work in the pink by pushing your diluted paint around the cheek area with the standard brush. Check if your work is not drying patchy. We want a smooth effect. Add a wet brush to the area to smooth out.

4. Add shading to the hair. It’s okay if the base layer is dry. We like a striped effect on hair.Think about the hair as a 3D shape. What area will catch the light? Leave these bits light, while adding more of the same colour (less diluted) to the bits that are shaded.

pinup watercolour tutorial painting
Smooth out the cheek colour and highlight on lower lip with the wet in wet technique. The upper lip is darker /less diluted.

    pinup watercolour tutorial painting     pinup watercolour tutorial painting

5. Now the fun part: ink! The black lines will make your illustrations come to life. Use a fine brush and dilute the ink slightly. Try and vary the line thickness: thick line means “this is in shadow” and thin lines means “this is lighter, and less important, we’re keeping this airy!” – Don’t forget that the lines shouldn’t all meet. It’s nice to leave some area un-inked.

At this stage, also add a less diluted wash of the skin colour behind the nose curve. You can also add a bit of purple to skin shadows. Odd, but it works! And look… the eyes have no pupil! I find that a pupil of creates a “manic” look on the pin-up girl. We’re just adding a gradient from dark brown (top) and fade it out at the bottom where the light would hit the iris. Again, go lighter by adding more water. You can also “scratch off” paint with a wet brush if you feel an area in too dark. Make sure the water is clean for this.

pinup watercolour tutorial painting

6. Right, I think we’re pretty much done now. Just add some final lines where you need them. Make some hair shadows a bit darker, simply by adding another wash.

Photoshop tweakage is very important in my own work. I’ve added the picture frame in Photoshop later. The frame was made in watercolour using the same technique as described above. Another thing I always do in PS, is adjusting the colours. For this watercolour painting, I duplicated my layer and set it to “multiply” – 30 to 40 percent. It just brings out the colours a touch more.

Any questions? Feel free to email or comment below. More work in progress will follow on Miss Beretta’s Instagram. Please look me up, it feels kinda lonely out there 😉

Prudy portrait

A portrait done in watercolours and ink for the lovely Prudy of the butter, basil and breadcrumbs blog. Click here to meet Prudy an see the reference I used.

watercolour portrait Prudy


Meet Sarah Elizabeth Orchard! This hilarious, pretty lady blogger often has me in stitches when posting about the slightly awkward things that happen to her. Like me, she was recently involved in a freak (what I call) British standoff. You know the situation: bump into someone, you go left, they go left, you go right, they go right. The stranger in question was… a pigeon. I get this with manky Leeds pigeons all the time!

pastel portrait of blogger Sarah Orchard
This pastel drawing was done with various selfies as reference. Camera phone low contrast and interesting self inflicted camera angles made this quite a challenge.

Head over to her awesomely named “And this is why I will die alone surrounded by cats” blog if you want to know what it feels like to be a single girl artist and painter of crazy pictures that don’t even make sense.

One of my favourite freaky portraits by Sarah Orchard
blogger Sarah Orchard
Why not stalk this nice lady on twitter?

Cat Boat Lady

This nice lady is Georgina Verbaan, an actress from my home country The Netherlands. I particularly love this pic in which she is modelling a t-shirt from my favourite animal charity ever! De Poezenboot is basically a housebout converted into a shelter for cats, right in the heart of Amsterdam. So yes, a pretty canal with a boat… full of cats. What’s not to like?

Georgina Verbaan illustratie
Illustration in biro and watercolours

Georgina Verbaan PoezenbootWhen I’m in Amsterdam, I usually pay a little visit to this catboat to play with the cats. This Christmas break I bought the t-shirt Georgina is wearing to show my support. Please join me and help this great charity by donating here by Paypal. Or get the official Poezenboot t-shirt, it’s a lovely quality!

Poezenboot t-shirt

Me as a little girl

I used to be little once. Back in the mid-eighties when mainstream music was still good. Don’t be fooled with my big smile though. I was quite a handful.

portrait in pastel of little girl

Back then I was pretty creative as well. But with walls and my mother’s lipstick instead of crayons or drawing pencils. I have also been known to involve green beans and 5 cent pieces in my performance art. Please don’t ask.

Another one in pastel and pastel pencils, it took me about 5 hours. Obviously, it has been donated to the parents.

Merry Christmas from Bettie

With a slight fever and a throat infection, I present to you my homage to Bettie Page’s iconic Christmas Playboy shoot. Merry Christmas! *shuffles off to bed*Bettie Page Christmas portrait in pastelAgain in pastel – crayons and pencils – in about four hours. Click the above link for the reference, but beware of…. BOOBS!

Missy Macabre in pastel

At my company we don’t do Christmas like most companies. This year we were treated to a bunch of dark cabaret acts, including a female fakir called Missy Macabre.

Missy Macabre portrait drawing in pastel

Missy Macabre portrait drawing in pastel sketchbook

I was very taken with Missy’s nail and hammer to the nose act as well as her striking face. For this pastel drawing I used this Missy reference.

Helena Bonham Carter in pastel

Pastels, sofa, cups of tea and Christmas tunes on the radio make for a lovely Sunday afternoon. And who doesn’t like Helena Bonham Carter, Queen of Quirk?

Helena Bonham Carter pastel portrait Helena Bonham Carter pastel portrait close up

Ancient Art Supplies

The inlaws had a garage clean-out and came across some old school art supplies. There were pastels, charcoal and all the paper in the world, including some vintage “Daler” (from before it was “Daler and Rowney”) watercolour paper. Stacks and stacks of it. Luckily, my boyfriend’s dad’s hobby never took off so he could kindly donate it to me… about 25 years later! These portraits of Amy Winehouse and Anna Calvi were quite a challenge, but at least I’m now no longer a pastel virgin. Eek, it smudges!

Amy Winehouse pastel portrait Anna Calvi pastel portrait

vintage art supplies
This isn’t even a third of it.