Well, I’m no Albert Einstein

This week, I worked on a sketch of legendary hair model Albert Einstein (I hear he also dabbled in some science-related stuff). As I was sketching him, I kept thinking about the phrase “He’s no Albert Einstein, but...” The idea of being so universally recognized in society for a specific thing is pretty amazing; you say Einstein, I immediately know you mean “smart.” That seems like the pinnacle of notoriety, where you’re so well-known that your identity is embedded into the language. I wonder if people 100 years from now will still consider Einstein so identifiable. Probably so, but what about 500 years? Or 1000 years (assuming humanity still exists)? Or will he have faded from the cultural lexicon by then?

Anyway…I’m no Albert Einstein, but…I can draw an Einstein! I’m pretty sure drawing a theoretical physicist is about as close as I can get to that particular world. When I was in college, I struggled mightily with physics, and calculus was brutal. Later, for some reason I decided to go to graduate school and take biostatistics for additional punishment. Don’t get me wrong; I’m occasionally good at napkin math, and love spreadsheets that do math for me. But hearing words like derivative or thermodynamics makes me feel like a squirrel dodging traffic.

I’ve actually had a pretty difficult time nailing down the original source for the photograph I based my Einstein sketch on. I have the image saved on my computer, and reverse Google Image searches didn’t provide much. I could only find that it’s apparently Einstein at Princeton University. Was it taken by the school? By a colleague? I have no clue. Interestingly enough, the original photo is autographed. If I find out anything more, I’ll definitely update the post.

Here’s how my drawing turned out:

As I mentioned in my “smiling lady by a fire” drawing post, I worked on this Einstein piece at the same time. It was a really nice change of pace to be able to switch between the two. The fire lady sketch involved a lot of background and scenery, which was not easy for me. The Einstein drawing was right in my wheelhouse though; a close up face and upper torso, and no background at all! When I needed to think about something (like how to approach grass or asphalt) on the other one, I just switched to the easier Einstein sketch to ponder from the safety of my comfort zone.

I’d have to say Einstein turned out pretty well overall. First off, it does look like him, so that’s a victory. I sometimes struggle with high contrast portraits, and that shows in this one. There are areas of shadow that definitely should have been darker. I also did a poor job of drawing his hair; I got the general shape right, but didn’t capture the wispy white quality at all. I guess I relied too much on graphite, when the best method probably would have been to emphasize the white through a dark background.

Once I finished this drawing, a random thought I had was, “Hey Einstein actually looks like my Dad here.” Ignoring the hair, this view of Einstein does look sort of Amdall-ish. As for my standard progression .gif…unfortunately, this time I did not take very many photos as I worked. I only got four of usable quality (and one other that was blurry). Even though it’s short, here is the .gif:

Amdall Einstein progression

That’s all for Einstein! I’m not currently working on anything else, but I have a few ideas. I’m not sure which will be the right spark, but maybe I’ll get to see this weekend.


  • I really idolized all your works Jon! πŸ™‚

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  • Wow!! Really impressed by your work! Would love to see more! 😊

    • Thank you, Kanisha! I try to work on a couple sketches per month…some months I’m more productive thank others, but hopefully if you’re subscribed I can keep it flowing semi-regularly. I appreciate you checking things out!

  • You’re good at capturing those head tilt angles Jon, it looks deceptively simple to those that have never tried. Well done πŸ™‚

    • Much appreciate Steve – isn’t it strange how people sometimes have such specific things they can draw? Like, for the life of me, I can’t sketch a good tree. I mean, I can draw a stick with green things on it, but a realistic woodsy background? Only in my dreams.

      • Trees used to be my nemesis, now it’s cars. More specifically, car wheels. I’ve drawn hundreds of ellipses as practice but still struggle with the wheels.

        I’m pretty stubborn about these things though so will do a hundred more. One day I might get it. I did the same with trees and whilst I’m no expert they’re at least “acceptable” now.

        Practice practice practice. And when you’re done, practice some more πŸ€“

      • You are so right about that, practice really is everything. It seems like there aren’t shortcuts to drawing; there’s a path to get better, and it just comes with learning through repetition. Well, that’s how it’s been for me anyway.

        And oh yeah…cars…I’m definitely not good at those either. Or buildings. I guess there are quite a few things I could stand to get some practice with!

  • Wow. Look at you go. What a progress you have made. Those eyes. Well done πŸ™‚

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  • This is great. Weirdly I posted an Einstein portrait this week too πŸ˜‚ great minds think alike apparently

    • Thanks Suzy! Maybe some Einstein genius rubs off on people who draw him? Ha ha, I think I’ll just pretend that’s true

      I tried to find your Einstein portrait, but I haven’t had any luck. Is it on your Underwater Photography site?

      • Haha, that would be tremendous wouldnt it! My sketching blog is here: sketchingonthetrain.wordpress.com thought it would be linked from my comment maybe I need to change something in WordPress

      • Ah there it is, thanks for linking it. I commented on your site’s Einstein sketch too, but that one is really great. I’m very impressed how you’re able to get varied depths of shadow from ink. That seems like it’s quite challenging!

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