My eldest son.
Now back home studying law.
Brown ink, fountain pen, water, black, blue and flesh conte crayon on small Moleskine watercolour pad.
My sketches of my family’s faces never capture a likeness. Drawing birds is so much easier – I don’t have to capture their individuality.
My 8 year old does at least as well as me.
My son states that not one of my attempts to draw him actually look like him. He thinks I should simply draw cartoon sloths because they have a similar hair style to him, and seem to be always smiling, like him.
It seems a harsh criticism because he does not stay still long enough to allow me to draw. Here, he is attempting to control a column of air wound round in a brass tube such that there is an interval between the emerging tones and a gap between the notes. This challenge keeps him in the same spot and doing the same thing for a few minutes.
My oldest son sent these youngest a book of ideas for building from Lego. They dragged the crate of accumulated pieces into the living room and I realised I had five minutes to draw while they constructed.
Even then, it is remarkable how lively they were, gyrating through different positions on the floor while preoccupied with their task. Quickly this descended into a chase across the furniture as their constructs were caught up in a narrative.
In the picture below, he has perched on the stairs to read the Lego book. I draw from under the table tennis table in the hall. Perhaps the odd angle explains why I gave him puny forelimbs like a Tyrannosaurus.
The play park in the cold is an inauspicious setting to draw. Here, he perched for a minute on a high log. There is something missing from this sketch … I think it is half his leg.
One trick is to do a deal. I drew her in return for her drawing me.
She needs to talk about a talent in class next week. Her original plan was to play the ukulele. I was a bit sceptical: initial enthusiasm a year ago quickly faded when pressing the strings hurt her fingers. She thinks I could teach her enough in the next 5 days. Her faith in me is touching but misplaced. My playing is limited to messing around, mostly in a G minor harmonic scale with a drone on the low G hit by my thumb, fantasising I am Ravi Shankar.
She has a better chance with drawing. Given a spare moment she draws. So I gave her a pad with decent cartridge paper and a 4B pencil. She was willing to listen to my explaining about 3D shapes and shadows because she has five days before presenting this talent, which is pressing a little on her mind. If she allows, I will post her drawings soon.
Today, we did an experiment. Could a sloth lie on its back in the water with all four paws vertically upright allowing a sail to be hoisted? We think the answer is no. We sank.
Drawing faces has never been a strength. Now I am trying to develop this skill. My six year old daughter is interested in the whole drawing process and will sit for me for 5-10 minutes. In this image, her face became shrunken and dysmorphic within a massive head – later I smeared this and redrew into it from memory. I fixed the charcoal. My wife claims to be unable to draw. Still, it took her about 10 seconds to work out I still had the proportions all wrong. The fixed drawing took a second layer of charcoal very readily, allowing me to lose about half the head. After all this adjustment, I still cannot capture my daughter’s general air of mischief and fun.
Here are some of their experiments with drawing in chalk pastel, told to try looking at the objects not draw from their ideas alone. I also suggested not to try to get a likeness but instead to get the patterns and colours from what they were seeing. In the lower one, she was trying to get the sense of a twig laden with dried oak leaves (“leath” = “leaf”).
In case you are wondering, Missus Moo is a version of Madam Monkey, one of her many names. It’s slightly better than “King Rat” which is how my oldest son addresses his smallest brother.