Gift Sketch of Nana and the Grandkids


This post will be a delayed publication; most likely you’re reading it in July, but everything here is actually from June. Not that it matters, but that is unusual for me since I can’t stand to sit on finished art. It’s by necessity though, because these drawings are actually birthday presents, and I wouldn’t want to ruin the surprise. When I asked my mom what she wanted for her birthday, she said she wanted a drawing. That’s something I am always happy to do – and she left the subject up to me, so off I went into planning/sketch mode.

I’ve drawn my mom twice, both were black and white graphite sketches, from before I took the plunge into color. The first was actually one of my favorites from that graphite era; a group drawing of my Granny, mom, sister, and two kiddos. The second was a decent, more unfinished sketch including me, my wife, kiddos, mom, sister, and her husband. In both cases, the representation of my mom was not the best. It sort of looked like her, but not exactly. I think one of the aspects I’ve struggled with is her smile; there’s a slight upturn at the edges that I haven’t been able to capture.

With this birthday present project, I decided to try two different scenes. One included my mom and her two grandkids, and the other was a scene of my mom as a kid with her dad. I worked on these drawings at the same time, but I’ll start with the throwback scene. I used an old photograph of the two of them on horses. The photo was extremely blurry, and sort of far off, so it was pretty difficult to get the details right. I’ve drawn her dad (my sister and I called him Paw Paw) before, but never as a younger man. So it was a bit of a challenge to imagine features on younger versions of them that I never knew.

This old school drawing turned out okay for an informal sketch, but doesn’t quite make it as a frame-able gift. Here’s the final version:


It’s certainly no masterpiece. But for something that only had a basic guide from a blurry photograph, it’s not too shabby. Bonus points for the fact that I’ve never drawn a horse before. The horses aren’t amazing, but at least they do look like horses. And I think I captured a decent general representation of my mom and her dad. It sort of looks like them. This particular viewpoint is also not a strong point for me; I’ve said before, I’m at my best in close up views of faces. This is panned sort of far out, which takes me out of my comfort zone. And again – this works fine as an informal sketch, but I’m not sure I’d be satisfied framing it as a gift.

The next drawing was a recent scene of my mom and two kiddos. My girls are frequently featured in art on this site, so I’ve had plenty of practice with them. I got a chance to work some perspective on this one, with my youngest in the foreground, oldest in the middle, and my mom behind them. It was good to be closer than I was in the horse sketch, but I still think I would have been more comfortable zooming in a bit more. That, or using bigger paper!

Here’s how the second drawing turned out:


I think this one was a success overall! In my opinion, I really did well on my youngest kiddo. This isn’t much of a surprise though, because she was the largest figure and I could get after the finer details easily. The weakest part of the drawing might be my oldest daughter; I think I went over the areas of her face too much. I ended up with so many layers of pencil, I literally couldn’t impact her features with pencil anymore. It sort of looks like her, but definitely isn’t as good as the last one. And I may have finally captured a good version of my mom’s smile. Her eyes aren’t quite right, but I do think I got her other facial features right.

I didn’t get a progression of the horse drawing, because I honestly didn’t think it was going to work out at all. But I did get enough from the contemporary scene to build a progression .gif. As you might be able to see, the earlier versions of my oldest were better, prior to my over-saturating it with color. Here’s how this one flowed:

Nana and the girls progression

When I started, it seemed like only the drawing with my mom and kids was going to be decent enough to actually give to her. But, after fine-tuning, I think I’m going to include both of them. And actually, if I’m publishing this in July…I guess I already gave the presents to her! Anyway, I hope she liked (likes) them. I am a terrible judge of my own art, and can never actually tell what people would like.

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