Now this I am chuffed with. I've never painted a portrait before and this is roughly what my mother looks like.
Of course, I did cheat and I thought I should confess all here in case it might be useful to anyone else. I know there are a few proper artists who read here, but there might be someone who has a similar absence of either talent or experience as me.
First off, I used a photograph. Obviously. I used a digital photograph which I printed off as big as I could, which happened to be A4. I found a painting board at the back of my craft cupboard which was about half way between A4 and A3 and of the same proportions.
Using these proportions, I then drew a grid of approximate squares on both my photo and the board. You don't need to measure along the edge - you'd have to use fractions of milimetres. Instead you use that old trick from school maths where you lay the ruler diagnonally across at a multiple of the number of lines you want to draw. So for example, if I wanted my grid ten across on a board 334mm wide, I would lay the ruler such that one edge of the paper was on 0mm and one was on 400mm, then draw a mark at every 40mm. I'd then repeat this so I've got my two dots I need to draw a straight line. Does that make sense?
I then turned the photo upside down and began to copy the picture across, using the lines as a guide. Copying upside down is a very good idea if ever you're copying an existing picture, because it forces you to draw what you see as opposed to what you know to be there - I imagine this is particularly important with faces, which we instinctively want to be symmetrical and orderly, when of course they're not - especially not in my family.
Anyway, I then splodged all the paint onto the board in a random fashion, returning to it for a few minutes at a time a few times a day for several days. Okay, so that's not fair; I suppose I do have some experience with using paint, but as you may have gathered, I tend to decorate things in a cartoonish manner as opposed to proper painting.
And I have to say, that whilst the painting is a good likeness to my mother, it doesn't compare brilliantly to the photograph. So a further cheat should probably be, destroy the photograph and nobody need be disillusioned.