This week’s portrait class

Here are the portraits I did this week in class. Our model was a lovely lady named Joanna, who had really fun hair and a great face shape; I wasn’t able to fully capture these.

In this one, I didn’t get a chance to finish the shading, so she ends up looking too masculine because the shadows are too stark in certain places. Head-on angles really are a lot harder to do than sideways angles.

In this one, Joanna put on a worried look which I wasn’t able to quite get, though she liked how it came out.

Both of these were about half an hour long, but there were breaks in between so each time she sat down again she moved slightly. This made me kind of crazy, but I understand. It’s hard to sit so still for so long.

I’m sad I’m going to have to miss the last session of portrait class (in two weeks), but I’m also relieved next week will be my last class. I’m starting to feel a little awkward in class because several of my classmates have decided that I’m Really Good. They are such nice people and mean it so earnestly when they compliment my work, and I can’t say I don’t appreciate the praise, but I’m enough of an egotist that this kind of recurring, sincere praise is very dangerous. I know my drawings are good, but they are not as good as my classmates think they are — they’re the efforts of a gifted beginner; very gifted, but a beginner nonetheless. The more people tell me how good I am, the easier it gets for me to believe the hype, and that’s when I stop looking at my work with a critical eye and start looking at it in a self-satisfied way; that’s when improvement halts. So, much as I’m grateful for their encouraging words, I also want to distance myself from this group of sweet, sweet people… they’re bad for my art!! And probably my character!

Oh, and it’s funny — when I told Erik about all this, he said, “Yeah, you’re not that good,” and then pulled up a bunch of drawings online to show me: two photo-perfect pencil portraits, and a set of extraordinarily beautiful watercolors by a six-year-old child. I held up my hands and said, “Okay, okay! My ego is completely crushed. You can stop now,” and we both laughed. Seeing work like that doesn’t send me into despair anymore the way it used to, and he knows it, which is why he felt comfortable showing it to me. Anyway he added, “You’re amazingly talented. But you haven’t reached your full potential.” This is why I keep Erik around! 😉


You know, I’m looking at my portraits again, and even though they’re way better than the ones I used to do, I have to make the same comment that I’ve been making about my drawings for years now: they’re the work of someone whose eye is better than her technical skill. Basically: really good eye; draws like a twelve-year-old. I guess it’s just what Erik said: there is amazing potential there, but I’ve a LONG way to go before I can realize it.