Holiday Portrait Gift
In what is apparently becoming somewhat of a tradition, this post is a delayed one. What I mean is, it was actually written at the beginning of December, but I’m just now publishing it on Christmas. The reason for the massive delay is the same as a similar one from July; the featured artwork is a gift! I don’t think any family members are keeping a tight surveillance of my website, especially during this busy time of year. But on the off chance my mom happens by, the artwork here is a gift for her, so I didn’t want to ruin the surprise.
For my mom’s birthday this past summer, I did a couple of portraits for her (below). One was of her with the grandkids, another was an attempt to draw her as a kid with her dad. They turned out decently enough I think – she seemed to like them. I thought it might be fun to do some more for Christmas as throw ins to other presents. I don’t have confidence enough that one of my drawings is a good gift on its own necessarily, but it does seem like a cool addition to a more normal gift. I only ended up having time to finish one for my mom and a portrait of my new nephew, but I’d hoped to do a few more for others.
For this one, once again I decided to go with a scene featuring my mom and the two girls. I captured an extremely blurry and dark photo of them having a group hug, and decided that might be good to try. The photo isn’t suitable for much – it’s too low resolution for printing or anything. And their features are barely visible. But it’s a good scene, and the thought was that perhaps I would be able to fill in details that were lacking in the original. That turned out to be a challenge that I didn’t fully rise to, but I almost got it to where I’d hoped.
Here’s the final version:
Overall, it’s a pretty solid result. The scene was preserved and I mostly captured the right look for everyone. My oldest daughter and my mom were both wearing all black, which can be a challenge sometimes for me (high contrast is one of my weaknesses). I opted to go with somewhat muted blacks by blending in some white, which I think was a good decision.
Since I didn’t have much definition to reference from the original photo, unfortunately there were areas of this portrait that I couldn’t completely flesh out. For example, my mom’s clothes ended up as a solid black mass without differentiation; sort of a disappointing lack of follow through. Also, I lost some mouth shape details to overly saturated color blending around my youngest daughter’s mouth. There just wasn’t any tooth left in the paper to repair the damage I did.
I did a better job with my mom’s and oldest daugther’s faces I think. Good facial feature details and hair color choices. Another miss though was poor Mr. Bunny (the oldest’s stuffed animal); his white “fur” shading isn’t natural looking against her black coat. The outline of black overwhelms the stuffed animal and they don’t look like they fit as part of the same scene.
And now for the usual progression .gif. I actually had a difficult time using my standard method this time. I’m not sure what was going on, because I tested it using some slightly older image files of other artwork and it was fine. Maybe one of my .jpgs were damaged or something. Anyhow, I zipped them and tried uploading that way and it seemed to work for some reason! Here it is:
So, it’s not perfect and I wouldn’t call it my best. There were a few aspects that just “weren’t quite there.” But it’s not a catastrophe, and I feel fine enough about the quality to give it as a gift (I definitely can’t say that about all of my artwork). I’ll write another post for the second gift portrait soon hopefully.
Nice presents, well done on doing the horses.
I’ve seen very experienced artists fall apart doing horses, especially face on.
Hey Steve, happy holidays to you! Man, you aren’t lying about horses. Trying to draw a horse face feels a lot like trying to sketch a weird brown alien.