Updating a Wedding Present Portrait

Lately, I’ve been in a bit of an art re-visitation phase. I have been back into the drawing hobby for over two years at this point, which doesn’t seem like a tremendous amount of time on its face, but feels significant to me. The style of artwork and techniques used have changed a lot, and in my view, continue to improve. I think it’s natural to look back at the road you traveled sometimes, and I’ve been doing that with some of this stuff. I don’t have much formal training when it comes to art; mostly just some high school classes. So I think I had to learn quite a few lessons from trial and error that some people get from their education, which I can sort of see when I view my progression from 2017.

As part of this personal interest in how my drawings have changed, over the past few months, I’ve revisited some prior subjects and even tried to completely redo a piece. Here are a few examples:

Self portrait improvement, (left to right) November 2017 to March 2018 to December 2018
Dark Tower characters re-do, (left to right) January 2018 to February 2019
Wedding present sketch from over two years ago

Along these lines, I came up with another sketch I wanted to re-explore. My wife and I have a couple of friends in Dallas who got married about two years ago. Although we did get them a “real” wedding present too, I tried to sketch a family portrait for them. It was before I started using color, so this was your basic black and white graphite drawing. I included the sketch (with their permission of course) in my book, and it came up recently when they got their hands on a copy. I decided this would be a fun one to run back too, so I asked them for input into a new portrait.

I set to work on this new one based on what they provided – I think it turned out well! I’m not sure if this is a logical fallacy or not, but it feels easier to draw people I know than to draw strangers. I mean, I know for a fact it’s easier to draw my wife and kids, but that is probably mostly because I have so much practice sketching them. But it really does seem, even if I have very little experience actually drawing the person, if I already know them and can summon a mental image of their face, it just feels easier. And in this case, I’ve seen this family in person many times, so it did not feel like a difficult project.

As usual, I’ve got the final version first, followed by some commentary about it, then a progression .gif. Here it is:

I’m not trying to be a braggart here, but I do think a lot went right with this portrait. I think it represents an improvement over the original black and white in many ways. The most obvious is that the color portrait naturally has more depth and visual impact. But smaller details I think are better too. The subjects look more like themselves in this new artwork; it generally seems like a more accurate and recognizable depiction. Okay, I’m finished whooping and hollering about myself now, time to tear it apart.

The first critical thing I notice every time I look at this portrait is how pink everything is. I leaned heavily and pinks and darker peach colors and it’s pretty noticeable. Although I do like that it mimics some decent facial contours, it’s just so much pink. The skin colors don’t look entirely natural, so that was something I might do a little differently. Also, the son’s hand looks weird…I’m not sure if it’s too large proportionally or what, but it doesn’t seem right to me. Some of the other coloring choices didn’t go quite right either, such as hair color; the lady subject here should have light blonde hair with some yellow shades, but I did not capture that at all.

Here’s the progression of this one:

So, overall this represents a step in the right direction. Next time we get together with these folks, I hope to give them this portrait as a sort of update to the original wedding gift. Likewise, we have another couple of friends who I want to give their portrait to; I’ve been meaning to hand that one over since July, but I keep forgetting to bring the drawing when we travel there.

What am I going to revisit now? I’ve been playing a video game lately that I hadn’t touched since around 2012 which has some meaning to me based on some life events around that time. It might be interesting to draw something from that – and I could even trying using my somewhat new drawing models to assist! I’m not sure if that’s what is next, but it’s a thought.

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