View Full Version : Drawings of my Granddaughter--a small journal

Deborah Secor
01-12-2013, 05:41 PM
I've decided I need to learn to draw my granddaughter. I've muffed a couple of paintings, slavishly rendering photographic details that did not achieve anything remotely close to the look of the child!

So the result it a small 4" x 6" journal where I intend to practice drawing from photographs of my girl (by necessity). I've tried to find photos that were taken in natural light. All are the same child, but at slightly different ages...




There's something about the spirit of a portrait that seems more important than slavish details, but my lack of experience and natural proclivity leads me to drawing fairly realistically at present. In time, maybe the experience will loosen me up. I hope so!

Kind and helpful comments needed and wanted. Help me see how to draw this elusive "something" that portraitists always try to capture! Thanks. :wave:

01-12-2013, 06:16 PM
Lovely child. I'm not a portraitist, so cannot comment about the getting a likeness. Have you tried the portrait forum?

Deborah Secor
01-12-2013, 06:25 PM
Yes, Debby, I have listed a much more detailed version there. I just thought this forum might enjoy seeing the journal...and my journey. :)

01-12-2013, 07:40 PM
What a great journal. She's adorable. You know, when she is an adult I just bet having something like this would be priceless and so special to her.

01-12-2013, 09:10 PM
We do enjoy your sketches. Please continue to post. :)

01-12-2013, 09:48 PM
Such beautiful sketches.

01-13-2013, 10:31 AM
What a great journal. She's adorable. You know, when she is an adult I just bet having something like this would be priceless and so special to her.
I agree.

I especially like her thoughtful gaze in the third drawing.

Deborah Secor
01-13-2013, 03:36 PM
Thanks! I'll post as I get a chance. My goal is a daily sketch, but I know myself well enough not to make that hard and fast.

:D I like the idea of a journal she might treasure. (One good thing is that kids change so fast no one remembers exactly what they looked like anyway!)

01-13-2013, 04:14 PM

01-14-2013, 12:08 AM
Oh, these are beautiful, Deborah! Sketching babies takes a special touch, and you have it.

01-14-2013, 03:41 AM
Very well done! She looks beautiful!

01-14-2013, 07:01 PM
Deborah, these are marvelous! I think you have captured a very dear spirit in these. What an adorable child and what a lovely keepsake you are creating for her in doing this.

01-14-2013, 07:42 PM
Good work - and I really like the idea of keeping this going for some time as a keepsake for her. Very special!

Deborah Secor
01-14-2013, 08:49 PM
:D Thank you SO MUCH! I really need this enthusiasm and encouragement right now. I'm drawing--just haven't finished or shot anything yet. Maybe tomorrow... :wave:

01-15-2013, 06:57 AM
Going well. It is difficult to sketch children from life even if they do live nearby.

I think you are spot on with the ideas of capturing the spirit, rather than photo rendering. To me that reduces us to a human photocopier and can be devoid of any spark of life.

I've got a little journal I was given, much smaller than I like but a lovely little book, maybe I could use it for something similar. Oh dear so many ideas and not enough time or energy!

Deborah Secor
01-16-2013, 01:28 PM
I appreciate that observation, Vivien. I don't want to be a camera--I have a camera and it does a great job doing what it does well. I think I'm beginning to get it, at least a little. Here's my next installment of drawings.

I need to move her eye in.

I like the character in this one.

Cute but not a likeness yet.

The one that looks like her and pleases me the most. Good light on this one.

Any comments appreciated! Thanks. :wave:

01-16-2013, 01:45 PM
Oh, those are adorable. . . that last one is just wonderful expression. Love the chubby cheeks and the pursed mouth. Beautiful.

Deborah Secor
01-16-2013, 01:58 PM
Thanks, Rainy. I switched to a softer paper and slightly larger size sketchbook for the last one and I think I'm going to stay with it. I really need better photos taken outside or in direct light, like that one, if I want to use a greater value range.

01-16-2013, 03:21 PM

01-16-2013, 04:08 PM
Simply adorable. I can see the likeness from sketch to sketch.

01-16-2013, 05:04 PM
These are wonderful, what an adorable subject, such a cutie.

Deborah Secor
01-16-2013, 05:12 PM
Thanks, Vivien. :D

Debby, I'm so glad to hear that! It's hard for me to see objectively, I guess.

Thanks, Jacqui. She is a ham to the max, and adorable, true.

01-16-2013, 11:25 PM
The last one really looks good, but for cuteness I think I have to go for the one with her hair in one tail on top of her head... She reminds me of my niece! Keep em coming!

Deborah Secor
01-17-2013, 02:26 PM
Thanks, Jenny. I like that one, too. As a matter of fact, I worked on it some more because the eyes were off, and ended up resolving the hairline in the process, which is an element that added even more to the likeness. Here's the current version:


And another one I did last night. She was singing, a typical pose.


01-17-2013, 03:59 PM
So cute singing. :)

01-17-2013, 05:38 PM
The singing one is great. Glad you feel happier with you adjustments to the first.

Deborah Secor
01-18-2013, 12:43 PM
She's a very musical kid, just like her daddy. :) I'm glad to know you like it, Debby.

And Jacqui, I am happier. I just hit the wall on another one of her with a big smile. The angles in the photo I'm using are really distorted by the camera. I could draw it photographically and it would be technically 'correct' but visually look wrong. Well, I'll get what I can from it and move one.

Joan T
01-18-2013, 04:16 PM
Oh, these are just wonderful!!! Babies are so hard to do but you are doing so well. You have some really adorable poses here and your shading is really well done!

01-18-2013, 04:35 PM
these are beautiful, so special, what a great opportunity to capture her this way, she looks an adorable imp, love the pamtree hairstyle, just like I used to do my little angels (she's 29 now) and that one of her singing is peachy...

Deborah Secor
01-19-2013, 02:06 PM
Thank you, Joan. Babies are hard! But I'm having fun. I go to sleep thinking of her face...

Scatty, she's truly adorable--a real showoff, just like I used to be (at least I hope it's in the past!! Some may think not... :lol:) I never had time to draw my son when he was little. I was a professional artist, and seemed to always have to paint other things. Now I wish I had a record of him--far more than those paintings I sold, but then I guess you have to pay the bills, too!

One new one today, a tough photograph. I decided to give it a go because it had good light and shadow, and is typical of my girl, but the angles are really out of whack, caused by what cameras do that eyes do not:


I now see her lips need a bit more attention, but then every one needs more attention--and needs to be let go of, as well. :lol: "A portrait is a painting of someone with something wrong with the mouth," was never truer...

01-19-2013, 04:50 PM
Another cutie. Love the expression in her eyes.

01-19-2013, 05:18 PM
Another darling sketch of your granddaughter. With all this practice, you'll be able to draw her from life when you see her next.

01-20-2013, 07:54 AM
Lovely and the amendments have really pulled that one together.

01-20-2013, 03:56 PM
These are so adorable! I love the little pouty one with the pigtails (the one that you said really looks like her). It's just so cute!

Deborah Secor
01-21-2013, 01:55 PM
Thanks, Jacqui. She is very expressive! :lol: She cracks me up sometimes.

Debby, I was with her yesterday and I guess I'd rather play with her than try to draw her... but I like the thought! I admit I noticed some wonderful details to include in drawings, like the way her earlobes curve upward. Love odd little things like that.

Thanks, good to know it works, Vivien.

Michelle, thank you.

Here's a bit more somber one, but a close likeness of her from about 4 months ago.


I want to try to capture her common expressions. This one is fairly typical. I got her nose and mouth--her eyes maybe not as well. I haven't taken this one to as much detail, either, but I'm moving on to the next one now.

01-21-2013, 03:13 PM
By all means play with her. :heart: Great you are noting details to bring to the drawings when you do work on her portraits. That last one looks like she's mulling over something. So cute.

Deborah Secor
01-21-2013, 04:35 PM
My sweet husband is beginning to mutter :music: "compulsive" :music: under his breath! Yeah, true... I find the hour(s) speed by.

Next one, a tricky angle but loads of fun to try! She was reading a book out loud.


01-21-2013, 09:48 PM
Just say "yes dear" and continue what you are doing. :lol: This one is precious. How old is she?

01-21-2013, 10:18 PM

01-22-2013, 05:39 AM
Fantastic sketches! It is a wonderful idea to do a small journal filled with drawings of her. She looks so cut!

Joan T
01-22-2013, 02:46 PM
Each of these is such a treasure!!! She is so adorable.

Deborah Secor
01-26-2013, 11:43 AM
Thanks, Debby, rainy, Martina and Joan. She's 18 months old and a peach!

I seem to be moving in closer to the face and composing the whole space, making these less like 'learning to draw the head' and more like portraits of the girl to me. I suppose it would be wise to do both, since I still have lots of issues to resolve.

Anyway, here's the most recent one. It was a terrible flash photo, and I know that makes for an awfully flat face. At least the angle was a fun one to try, however.


Oh, and yes, I now see the little bobble on the bridge of her nose. Fixing it now... :wave:

01-26-2013, 12:27 PM
It is a delightful age

I like the way you are focusing in

01-26-2013, 02:38 PM
This is a beautiful portrait of her. 18 months is so much fun. Not quite at the age of her declaring "no". :lol:

Deborah Secor
01-27-2013, 06:16 PM
Here's today's effort. Her tilted head was so hard! I finally drew a T and a box to get the angle right, then had to shorten her chin a few dozen times. I know I could have tilted the photo and my paper so the image was upright, but I'm trying to learn to SEE the tilt, because in real life it has to be recorded.


Thanks, Debby. True-but she has 'mine' down pat!

Thanks, Vivien. :)

01-27-2013, 06:22 PM
These are all so gorgeous. I just want to pick her up and hug her.

01-27-2013, 06:59 PM
Great job on the last group of portraits - the personality and expressions really come through nicely!

Deborah Secor
01-27-2013, 07:01 PM
Aw, thanks, Jacqui. She is huggable!

John, thanks. I am getting a handle from this practice, I guess, but I really appreciate everyone's encouragement.

01-27-2013, 07:10 PM
Another darling portrait. Enjoy her.

Deborah Secor
01-28-2013, 02:28 PM
Triumph and tragedy... :lol: As I look at this last one, I have achieved a likeness that impressed her daddy (Whoohoo!), BUT one eye is off line! Argggghhh.... Back to the sketchpad.

01-29-2013, 04:47 AM
They are so good, every one.

Terry Wynn
01-29-2013, 10:31 AM
Wow, Deborah what progress you have made. These are so personal and wonderful. You are capturing the essence that is missing in photographs and that will be a super personal gift from you to her.

I am very impressed with your increasing skills at capturing her likenesses in her many moods.


Deborah Secor
01-29-2013, 12:48 PM
Aw, thanks Eileen and Terry. :D

Last night in bed, as I was thinking about these drawings, I realized I need to go on learning how to capture the likeness and increasing my ability to record what I see, but I also want to come to the point where I'm not painstakingly replicating the photograph. I'd like the elements I use (line, edge, shading, value) to become more art and less record, if you know what I mean! Maybe that's when I'll need to transition back to paint again, I'm not sure. I think I should be able to express it in pencil. Well, I guess that's all theory at the moment. For now, drawing!

01-29-2013, 04:25 PM
so adorable, the sparkle in her eyes and expressions on her cute face.

01-29-2013, 04:26 PM
These are fabulous Deborah. I took an 80 hour portrait drawing workshop with Tony Ryder last summer. One of the wonderful things I learned was going very light on the eyes to begin with, no dark lines til I was sure they were right, and erasing but do the correction line then erase your first lines or you are apt to repeat and repeat those first bad lines. We worked on Strathmore ivory colored drawing spiral books and they held up well to the erasing. The other thing that makes a huge difference is the eraser, we used Maped erasers and they do the job quite well without digging holes in your paper. So draw and draw and draw, and erase and it will improve. I also think compulsion is not a dirty word when it comes to learning a new skill, it's actually the only way to get good at it. Oh yeah, sharp pencils and lots of shading practice, when I've grown weary of my too dark lines I do a page of shading, my favorite is to do funnel clouds (good practice for elipses!) but that may be because I grew up in the Land of Oz and saw so many in the summertime.

Deborah Secor
01-29-2013, 08:54 PM
Thanks, Rainy.

Excellent advice, Margo! I finally sorted through my drawing pencils and decided to give them a go, instead of just using the Bic #2 7mm lead that I seem to always have on hand. :lol: I have this lovely little assortment of Faber-Castell pencils that I picked up somewhere along the line, and I took the time to go see what all the Hs and Bs stood for online! Oh duh--hard, black. Makes perfect sense! So I've just started working with harder pencils to make light lines, and along comes this post. :D I have a kneaded eraser that's been around forever. I like being able to shape it to whatever I need, but I have to admit the Maped Erasers look like a dandy deal, too. I'll have to get a couple.

Deborah Secor
01-29-2013, 09:15 PM
Interesting to see them as thumbnail size.


Kind of looks like a rogue's gallery this way! :lol:

01-29-2013, 10:05 PM
Wow these look stunning all together like this. Are they all of her at the same age or are some of the earlier ones a bit younger?

Deborah Secor
01-29-2013, 10:51 PM
Thanks, Jacqui. :) Mmm, there are a few that are from about 4 or 5 months ago. The length of her hair shows that for the most part: 1,3,4,5,8. The rest are 18 months-ish.

01-30-2013, 08:56 AM
Brilliant gallery of portraits,Deborah:thumbsup:

all the best

01-30-2013, 02:22 PM
A great little gallery. You will like the Faber Castell pencils. Both a Maped and a kneaded eraser are a good duo.

01-30-2013, 03:26 PM
Aw, thanks Eileen and Terry. :D

Last night in bed, as I was thinking about these drawings, I realized I need to go on learning how to capture the likeness and increasing my ability to record what I see, but I also want to come to the point where I'm not painstakingly replicating the photograph. I'd like the elements I use (line, edge, shading, value) to become more art and less record, if you know what I mean! Maybe that's when I'll need to transition back to paint again, I'm not sure. I think I should be able to express it in pencil. Well, I guess that's all theory at the moment. For now, drawing!

I do know what you mean - but they are already well on the way to what you want and are drawings already and more than copies :)

Why not use willow charcoal for a few? it's so easily adjusted and so painterly, it really helps you to free up.

Seeing them all together shows up the liveliness

01-31-2013, 02:53 AM
A wonderful set Deborah, progress is clear.


01-31-2013, 04:06 AM
These sketches are so fantastic, can`t wait to see more...


Deborah Secor
01-31-2013, 06:33 PM
:D Thanks, Brian.

Margo, yep, these pencils are more versatile.

Vivien, that's encouraging. I do hope to start to loosen up more, but it will come in time. I may give charcoal a shot, too. I used it all the time for underdrawings in my pastel work and loved using it on sandpaper. I have lots of different kinds of paper I may play around with, too. Thanks for the idea!

Glad you see the progress, Doug. Thanks!

And Martina, thank you, too. Here are the next ones.

Blowing bubbles.

As a 7 month old:

01-31-2013, 07:30 PM
So cute blowing bubbles. :)

Deborah Secor
02-02-2013, 01:00 PM
:D Thanks, Debby. I like that one, too.

02-02-2013, 03:04 PM
...loving these sketches, they're beautiful. The gallery of thumbnails is really fab :D

Deborah Secor
02-02-2013, 07:23 PM
:D Thanks, Scatty.

Newest one, as about a 7 month old, all snuggled down.


That mouth of hers is so incredible! This was a tough pose to catch and it's taken me all afternoon, but I think I got it.

02-02-2013, 08:20 PM
Sweet. You got that cheek against the bed just right.

Joan T
02-02-2013, 09:21 PM
I loved seeing them as thumbnails all together! The last few are so precious. Your shading on them is really lovely.

02-02-2013, 11:26 PM
You have such a soft and delicate touch with these. That last one just melts your heart.

02-03-2013, 03:48 AM
Absolutely delightful!

02-03-2013, 04:13 AM
A wonderful series beautifully done.


Deborah Secor
02-04-2013, 01:13 PM
Debby and Joan and Jacqui and Vivien and Doug, THANK YOU so much for your supportive encouragement. :heart:

I tweaked her ear, softening the contrast and edges. For the record:


02-04-2013, 06:59 PM
Beautiful job on the last several portraits! Nice to catch some action (or inaction, in the case of the sleeping portrait - :) ) poses.

02-04-2013, 10:45 PM
Love the thumbnails! The poses are so cute! My latest favorite is the one blowing bubbles. I just love the shape of her little mouth.

Deborah Secor
02-05-2013, 01:14 PM
Thanks, John. Action abounds in this kiddo these days, but I am trying to go back and do some practice drawing her as an infant, too. Fun!

Thank you, Michelle. :D I think the shape of her mouth is the one characteristic that defines likeness more than any other--so unique! Lots of people say the eyes, but I'm not so sure... I guess it all has to come together, huh?

02-05-2013, 02:26 PM
These are very very nice! I like the subtle gradations of tone you've achieved with these.

Deborah Secor
02-06-2013, 11:32 AM
Thanks very much, RCharleston. :)

Here's a profile, which I've been trying to get for a while. I think it really looks like her! I shot the photo on Sunday, so it's very current, 18 months old.


02-06-2013, 11:59 AM
You are getting really good at these Deborah. Another lovely portrait.


02-06-2013, 12:30 PM
Some of these almost make me wanna cry. Sooo cute and you've captured some absolutely adorable expressions so beautifully!

02-06-2013, 04:50 PM
Stunning portrait of her.

Deborah Secor
02-06-2013, 04:57 PM
Thank you again, Doug. :D I'm certainly having fun learning.

Davy, what a nice comment! Thank you.

Debby, thanks! :)

02-07-2013, 12:43 AM
This last one is awesome.

02-07-2013, 11:10 AM
I totally agree with Margo, the last one is a stunner! So beautiful!

Deborah Secor
02-07-2013, 06:39 PM
Thanks, Margo and Jenny. :D Yer makin' me smile.

This next one is not my favorite drawing, but I'll show it anyway. She was about a year old here. I love the spotted dress and her pixie look.


There were two light sources--bad news! The sunlight from her right side was bright, but there was also some filtered daylight coming from her left side, too. I won't do that again. But there you have it.

02-07-2013, 07:47 PM
I love this last one, she is showing so much personality, what a bubbly little darlin. In the currrent age one she looks very pensive. Both beautiful.

02-07-2013, 08:54 PM
Darling, even with light issues.

Deborah Secor
02-08-2013, 02:18 PM
Thanks, Jacqui. This girl is a total ham (reminds me of me when I was little!) She was reading a book with me recently and when the bad lady showed up she looked at me with a big Oh NO, gasp, smile, that just made me truly laugh out loud... I caught a photo of that look but it's unpaintable--too over the top, I think.

Debby, thanks. Painting with two light sources was instructive!

Joan T
02-08-2013, 08:35 PM
These are priceless. I think both the eyes and the mouth are important to get the portrait right. She has such cute lips!

02-09-2013, 05:47 AM
You really catch her personality

Deborah Secor
02-11-2013, 01:28 PM
Joan, thanks. :) You're right, of course, eyes and mouth are both essential. I thought I might do some drawings of her mouth alone, however, just to see if it will really look like her... Not sure that will work. It would likely need the eyes to be identified.

Thanks, Vivien. That is so nice to hear. :D

02-12-2013, 06:31 AM
These are so precious!

Looking forward to seeing a drawing of her "oh no!" gasp.

Have you thought of putting copies of some of these into an illustrated Ps. 139 booklet for her?

Deborah Secor
07-30-2013, 05:26 PM
Well, it's been a VERY long time since I practiced, and it certainly shows, but I finally got back to this journal again. Here are a few more drawings of my granddaughter done recently.

This first one makes her look older than she is, but that's the way the photo looked, too. The second is far more typical of her look.




She just had her second birthday. In fact, the one of her sleeping in the car seat was taken on our wonderful day celebrating her birthday.

Comments welcome. I hope to keep practicing now that I've gotten back to it again! :wave:

07-30-2013, 05:33 PM
They are beautiful Deborah. You are amassing a lovely portfolio.

I can relate to a sketch that looks older. So easy to do. I sketched one for charity like that but the girl was delighted when I told her it made her look older :lol:


08-01-2013, 10:10 AM
Lovely. Will you give her these when she grows up?

Joan T
08-01-2013, 04:02 PM
Deborah, these are just wonderful!!! I'm glad to see you have started up sketching her again.

08-01-2013, 05:26 PM
Wonderful that you are continuing the sketches of your granddaughter. The one of her asleep in the car seat is precious.

Deborah Secor
08-02-2013, 01:13 PM
Thanks all... I appreciate your comments. :) I do plan to go on sketching her and will probably give the finished book to her daddy at some point. I realize how out of practice I am--I admit I tore out one page not long ago. :lol: I also tend to go back and touch them up as I see things, but at some point I'll call it done.

I have another shot that's making me itch to draw her again. This time I won't wait so long!

Deborah Secor
05-13-2014, 06:03 PM
Wow...this is so nice to read now, all these months later. I haven't done any more drawings of my grandgirl since then, sadly. Life gets in the way. But this forum is very supportive. Thanks again!

05-14-2014, 08:30 AM
So .... More! It was a lovely series