Monday, May 2, 2016


Having toddlers and being dedicated to art -- either writing or fine art -- is a constant negotiation of determination, planning, and time. This month that negotiation turned into a wrestling match.

All the "I'm-so-busy" talk aside, I'm totally geeked to be working on the first portrait sketch I've drawn in more than a decade.

I'm simultaneously shocked by how long it's been (they are so fun! why don't I do this all the time?) and how hard it is.

And oh man, the rusty factor is real. Rusty like used-car-parts-in-a-junkyard rusty. I basically forgot how to draw portraits. Like, all of it -- the measuring, the shading, the outlining.
The eyes are off. The face width is off. The chin and jaw are off.

But relearning has been fun, and it's gotten me thinking about other kinds of sketches, namely character sketches for my new novel. The desires, fears, and history of my character are no less important than the drawn lines of the eyes, shadows of the nose, and space between the features of my art subject.

I never considered doing portraits (way back in my early 20s, I mean) because they were not technically strong, nor were they marketable. I'm sort of sad for myself when I think about this. I know now that it's so much more than what is considered "good" to the world. It's about putting your blood on paper and pouring out your emotions.

Ok. A little dramatic there, but still. Art now is so much about what I WANT. And it's what I want for me, alone.

So much about novel writing is the same.

The face I've decided on drawing has bits of magical realism sprinkled about -- a hot-air balloon, gears, moons, and ferns. I'm thinking about shading, measuring, and other details that make up a person.

Every measurement is important. One feature can't be drawn without being connected to another.

In my new novel, I've decided that one of my main characters has suffered a deep personal loss that resulted from disease. How does it affect her decisions and other aspects of her personality? How does it measure, so to speak, between her bravery, her reluctance, her words, her perception of others -- and the way others perceive her?

All the lines matter.

In my drawing, the background was too light. I didn't draw the right amount of attention to my subject material the way I wanted. I added shading in the lower left corner to start remedying this problem.

Progress. Still not done.

I will update this post later with the finished product.

UPDATE: (hooray, I finished it!)
Done. Pencil added for scale. 

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