Art Backlog Thoughts and Cousins Hanging Out

At the moment, I am quite backlogged in terms of both finished portraits I haven’t yet written about and ideas for future drawings. I’ve written about my tendency to get behind on this sort of thing, to develop a backlog, but this feels like the most extreme it’s been in a long while. I currently have four finished drawings that I haven’t posted here, which doesn’t even include some gift portraits that I won’t share here.1 My “art ideas” folder has also grown to massive proportions, which includes over 200 potential projects now! Additionally, I still have vague notions of capturing some planned photos myself to use as the basis of pencil drawings, which would hypothetically become part of a new book. While it’s nice to know I’ve got a lot of stuff on tap, it’s also a little crazy to see so much put into words here.

One of the projects on my checklist was to draw a scene including my kids, who are obliviously frequent portrait subjects, along with their very small cousins. I’ve actually tried to draw my nephew once already, but haven’t yet tried to depict my niece. Or at least, hadn’t tried to do so – until a few weeks ago! I think it would be fun to keep this up as a series over the years. So, as additional cousins join the fray (I know at least one more on my wife’s side of the family is coming), I can add them and perhaps update as they all get bigger.

1 Random thoughts/side-note: I’ve recently done a few portraits for co-workers. When I started this website and decided to share artwork online, I made a few key decisions. One was to never name portrait subjects, unless they are already a public figure or otherwise famous person. Another decision was to keep my professional life offline. Along those lines, although they may not mind, I made the determination not to share any of these coworker portraits. I’m basically a specialized writer dealing with a fair amount of data analysis; nothing crazy, but I figured I would just keep work things at work.

Having drawn my kids so many times, I feel pretty confident about being able to capture them at least somewhat well. After all, I spend everyday with them, so I should be familiar with their facial details right? Their cousins though are a different story. My first attempt at drawing my nephew was okay but not great…and I think it’s largely due to how difficult I find it to draw babies. With very little children, I feel like their distinguishing characteristics are more subtle;. A baby’s parents can easily tell the difference, but I feel like to most strangers, little babies sort of look the same to some extent. I’m painting with broad strokes here metaphorically, but I think that round baby face makes it a bit harder to pull out the features that make them unique.

So, with these challenges in mind, I found a good scene to work with and gave it my best try. Here’s the final version with all four kids together:

One tricky thing about this drawing was that I didn’t have any photos that had all four kids standing still. It can be hard enough to get two or three little ones to be still for a second, I think four kids are probably impossible. Surely that’s some sort of law of physics, right? Anyhow, I had to merge two different photos together to make this one work.

As expected, I think the depictions of my two little ones look somewhat true to life. And I actually think I did a decent job with my sister’s son here; more true to life than the first attempt when he was a very small baby. Unfortunately, the poor littlest girl was not very accurate! My niece doesn’t really look like that, so I’m a bit disappointed with the overall end result. I think my biggest miss was with her nose. I was very tempted to try to erase and start over, but unfortunately once I’ve started layering and blending, the pencil wax is usually too thick to impact much with an eraser.

This time around, I actually did a decent job on their clothes though! I’m a bit surprised by that, because I usually struggle with folds, shadows, and color blending on fabrics. So that’s a nice silver lining for sure, and I’ll take it as perhaps something I was able to take from this one. I’ll certainly return to these little subjects again and see if I can show some improvement next time.

As usual, I’ve imbedded above the progression video posted to the YouTube channel for folks who might want to see how this drawing came together. I’ve tried lately to speed up these videos as fast as I can, but for some reason going much faster than 8X normal speed seems to make things a bit disorienting. I’m not sure if it’s due to video file compression, or just the small movements becoming more pronounced at higher speeds. Based on my own YouTube habits, it seems like faster is better for stuff like this, so I’ll keep trying to refine my recording capabilities.

Up next, I’ve got a finished self-portrait to share, as well as a couple drawings from movies/TV shows. And an unfinished one from a stock image. Typically, posts here are in real chronological order since I share them as they are completed. But lately, with a stack of finished drawings on hand, I’ve actually been posting them out of order…which feels weird to my sometimes compulsive self. Anyhow, the disorder will continue for now!


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