A Portrait of My Dad

My Dad is my Hero

As most of us growing up in the 1960’s (giving away my age a bit) our dad’s were our heroes. I am no exception. My dad was a bigger than life super-hero to me. He actually still is to this day. He became a single father, raising 5 children as a farmer and took on work in town to support us. He was never a quitter. Even when things got really tough for him. My younger sister and I were that babies of the family. I was 6 years old and my sister was 4 when our mother left home. We were too young to understand all of the dynamics that lead up to her leaving but it was a tough time for all of us to say the least.

So, needless to say my dad meant more to me than ever. I have fond memories of him cooking for us, taking us to school, riding on the tractor with him and taking naps on his shoulder. He taught me how to drive so I could help in the fields at a very young age.

Portrait of a Hero

With my recent return back to my art, I have been doing portraits of family members. Because I have access to reference photos and because they mean so much to me, it was a natural place for me to start. There are challenges in drawing people you really care about though, in that it’s hard to picture them as a subject to draw without putting in your own view of what you think they look like.

Another challenge is to draw a more mature person, like my dad and not make the lines on his face look like a roadmap! He has earned every line on his face through hard work, laughing and a bit of crying along the way. I want them to look like part of his character. So the transition from one texture to another needs to be seamless and smooth.

Not only am I drawing my dad but I am drawing my step-mom in this portrait. She has been by his side, supporting him, working with him and being there for him for many years now and she has been a meaningful part of our lives as well. She fittingly belongs by his side in this drawing.

My younger sister and I were not raised by our step-mom so we didn’t have the chance to get as emotionally close to her as if we had lived with her. We were sent to live with our mother when I was 9 and she was 7 and so we were just visitors on the weekends and summers after dad remarried. My mother moved us clear across the country when I was 14 and we didn’t see our family for a long time after that.

The Emotional Roller Coaster Ride

It is often talked about, how art inspires emotion to the viewers, or the emotion an artist puts into their work.  Not much is ever mentioned about the emotion an artist can go through when doing a portrait of someone they love. It’s a roller coaster of emotion for me as I do this portrait. The emotions are worth it to me though, because I believe they are making me stronger; they are making my art better and they are making this piece mean so much more to me.

Sharing My Progress

Here are some pictures of my progress on this portrait of “Jr. and Donna” so you can see where I started and where I am now. If you would like to see the finished portrait please follow me on Instagram and Facebook where I post nearly daily. I will post a pic of this portrait there when it is finished. To see some of my other portraits pop on over to my page Graphite Portraits and take a look.

 

 

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What does your dad mean to you? Is/was he your super-hero? Share your short story in the comments!

By for now and I hope to see you here next week where I will talk a bit about “Building a Body of Work” by slowly and steadily by doing something each day. Don’t forget to follow me here so you don’t miss any future blog posts! 😉

My New Journey as an Artist

Well, hello everyone! This is my very first time writing a blog. Needless to say it is a daunting experience. But I felt a deep yearning to have a place where I can write my experiences, my frustrations and my accomplishments about my art. A kind of journal of sorts.

My goal is to post a blog on each of my art pieces so that I can share the process, my ideas and pictures of the project as it develops. I will hopefully get better at blogging as I go along.

I have been doing artistic things ever since I can remember but many times I had to put my dreams of being and Artist to side. Now that I am in a place in my life where I have less responsibilities and more time I decided to pursue my art again.

So in doing so I want to be able to track my progress and share it with others who may be interested in my journey.

Many of the posts, videos, etc., that I have come across about starting a business as an Artist seem to be geared for the young, college grad, or the young and beautiful people in the world. I have not come across any videos, blogs, websites etc., that encourage, help or even mention a “middle-aged, retired person wanting to do what they have always wanted and never could,” kind of person like me.

So, I have decided to share my journey with you.

 

“Serenity”

 Here is a portrait of my youngest Granddaughter I did recently. In my next post I will share my experience and the steps I took to create this portrait.

Who Doesn’t Love a Baby Portrait

My First Baby Portrait Ever attempted

I want to share with you my process in drawing a baby portrait that I did just a few weeks ago. But first I must tell you a bit of the back story. So, here goes…

Not long ago I decided I was going to renew my love of art. I used to draw, paint, do calligraphy, etc., any chance I got as a kid but as I grew up and had responsibilities such as raising my two children and working 50 hours a week to support them and myself, art just had to take a back seat; (a lot of things had to take a back seat). Oh I dabbled here and there once in a great while but not enough to really get good at it (if ya know what I mean).

Below is a picture I drew over 25 years ago! And the next time I really seriously sat down to draw something was in 2014! My hubby was driving OTR at the time so I had LOTS of time on my hands. I really didn’t even have the supplies to do any art so I had to purchase some pencils and paper. My husband bought me a craft table that tilts for drawing for my birthday and so I had him bring it downstairs for me and set it up in our dining room so I could start drawing again.

Horse & Cowboy Drawing

Horse & Cowboy Graphite Drawing I did in 1990-1991

I had no idea really what I was going to draw so I just started looking at pictures on the internet to get some sort of inspiration. I came across a few images I thought I could start with without too much trouble. The first one I did was a portrait of Marilyn Monroe. It didn’t actually turn out too bad! I was pretty pumped by that accomplishment so I set out to do another portrait. I wanted something that would go with the one I just did so I asked my son who to draw next. He is an avid Marilyn fan and a Rockabilly fan as well. He suggested I do a portrait of another of his faves – James Dean. So, I did.

I really was liking the accomplishments I had made in my drawing, especially since I hadn’t picked up a pencil to draw in umpteen years. I thought to myself hmm, what next. This time I will draw something for my husband who is very supportive of any of my artistic endeavors. I decided to draw a cat, yep a cat. He likes cats, so why not.

I drew a portrait of a tiger cat but this time I used the colored pencils he (my hubby) bought me to do the eyes. Well, it turned out that he just loved it!  I then did a portrait of our dog, Hershey. He is a very special part of our family. I was able to capture his likeness quite well. (By the way, all of these drawings can be seen over on my Instagram and Facebook pages if you would like to see them;)

After that we decided we were going to move and so my art work took a back seat once again. It took us over a year to find a house where we decided we wanted to live. Then it took a few more months to pack up and move over 12 hours away from where we had been living.

Fast forward now to when we are all settled in (sort of) and I have to find a new place for all of my craft stuff, ugh! I do a lot of different crafts as well, (which I find are now causing a distraction from my passion of art). So, I started to crochet some things and it was a great interest here. I was asked to start a crochet class for people interested in crochet.

Then I decided to teach myself to knit since a lot of patterns I liked were knitted items. There were also 2 weddings and a couple of trips back to Illinois in the meantime. Needless to say I did not draw again until just a few weeks ago!

We were recently blessed with a new granddaughter and we were swept off our feet when we finally got to meet her at the age of near 5 months. I couldn’t even think of much else. She inspired me so much that I had to draw her! Mind you, I have never in my life, drawn a baby before… It is just not the same as drawing an adult, not the same at all. Baby’s features are so soft and delicate. Their feature’s proportions are not the same either. But I just had to try.

I started by going thru picture after picture of her to find the “perfect” expression. The picture had to be of good quality, no funny lighting issues, etc. Finally I landed on one in particular that I loved.

Serenity in color

The original picture I used for my portrait

Is she not a DOLL! Anyway, I just wanted to do a head shot of her so I had to crop this picture. I really wanted for her eyes to be the main focus. She has beautiful eyes.

Here is the picture cropped, and printed in grey scale. I am doing the lay-in for the portrait. I always make sure my lay-in is as accurate as possible so that I have all the proportions correct before I ever start with any detail work. If any of the proportions are off, the portrait will not look like the subject.

Sereninty Lay in

Lay-in process to get proportions correct before any details

As you can see I just put in the features to start with. I use a very light hand with doing this so that I can back off or completely erase as needed.

Next, I usually do the eyes. This helps me to get the rest of the values right. I decided to do her eyes in color because they happen to be such a beautiful blue that I couldn’t leave that out of the portrait. As with the tiger cat I did, I really love the effect.

Serenity Eyes and Values

Now the drawing is taking shape and starting to look like her. I slowing work on the values building them as I go. You really don’t want to go to dark at first because it is much easier to add value than to remove it. In this next picture you will see that I just keep adding details/values as I go. I am adding the detail in her onesie here.

Serenity more detail

Next you see more progression in the details of her face and hair.

Serenity more detail Hair

And last but not least!

Serenity All done with logo

I really hope you enjoyed this as much as I did making it. If you have and questions about materials I use or techniques just ask! I will be glad to share what I can. Keep in mind I am virtually self-taught but I would love to share what I know.

Head on over to my Facebook and Instagram pages and give me a like and follow!

Until next time –