The sketch that almost wasn’t.

The since discarded sketch

Before I got caught up in the book hype, I had begun a sketch of two granddaughters that I wished to give as a gift. Luckily I had planned this well in advance of the birthday for the intended recipient. This sketch, like his birthday, is a surprise, but by the time this post goes out, my son should know that his parents and sister from New Zealand are part of that surprise. We have waited two and a half years to get back to Melbourne, and as you read this, that’s where we’ll be, celebrating my son’s birthday. But, back to the sketch… This is the initial sketch of the two girls, where I messed up the younger child. Soon after I started a second sketch of the girls. But instead of completing it quickly, I kept drawing a little then leaving it alone.

A fair way through next attempt

I wondered right from the start why I had chosen to do a double portrait, and then complicated matters by choosing a photograph which included them inside a tent, clutching soft toys! Both girls are fair skinned, but the younger has lighter hair. I like sketching hair, and built the tones up gradually using a range of B pencils. This time I made sure I had Beatrix (in puffer jacket) accurate, and when happy with the resemblance kept working on Phemie’s features. For any portrait it is absolutely necessary to ensure the proportions are accurate, for if not? Well, the sketch will not resemble the person!

Both girls and the toys!

You can see that I had trouble editing the tones of the images, as in ‘real life’ the faces appear as enhanced as the toys. Applying fixative on the darker ones, may well have affected the reproduction of the final sketch. And, yes, there was a little over-working as the layers and folds of various fabrics, plus the textures of the toys, made for one complicated piece. On the whole I am pleased, as I know that these girls do in fact look like my granddaughters. They’d better, as this is the gift that I’m giving to their dad. Well, almost …


I wanted to present the sketch matted and backed in archival quality board, so popped up to the local framers and had them cut one to the dimensions I’d written down. The matt is graphite grey, it’s just my poor camera angle which makes it look black at the bottom. Now all that’s left is to place foam board on top and wrap in appropriate gift paper. I’ll bubble wrap the whole thing and place it comfortably in my suitcase. Oh, I’d better not forget to sign it first!

9 thoughts on “The sketch that almost wasn’t.

    • Thanks Phil. I’ve always liked doing portraits, and its matter of looking and looking some more, to get those eye measurements accurate. I do prefer sketching from life, but as the children were in Aus, a photo had to suffice.


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