Saturday, January 7, 2023


12/25/22 5"x7", Hi-Uni graphite on Stonehenge Lenox Cotton

 A while back when I made a portrait and complained about how much harder it is to draw young skin (you’ve probably noticed that I tend to favor craggy, old men when I choose reference photos), a Facebook friend commented that I should try drawing a baby. I shuddered at the thought of rendering all that smooth skin and such subtle forms (babies’ noses are so tiny, they barely cast a shadow), but you know me – challenge accepted!

 I didn’t have to go out on the Internet to find a random baby’s photo. This little person is the newest member of my family. She was born to my niece Alix and her husband Seila in August. Since I also sketched at their wedding, their current house, and Alix performing with her taiko group, it felt extra special to draw my grand niece Kaila, too.

Material and process notes: As expected, drawing Kaila was certainly the most challenging portrait I’ve attempted to date. Although capturing resemblance is usually at least a partial objective with portraits, in this case, I knew it was all-important. I spent the most time on the eyes.

After that, it was all about trying to render the delicacy of her skin. For paper, I chose Stonehenge Lenox Cotton. It isn’t perfectly smooth like Bristol; it has a fine, velvety tooth, which is lovely with both graphite and colored pencil. Halfway through, I regretted my choice. Even with an H-grade Hi-Uni pencil, the paper’s fine tooth seemed too coarse for an infant’s skin. I wished I’d used Bristol Smooth after all. Using a blending stump can be risky because it usually darkens graphite, but I took a chance and gave the graphite a very, very gentle once-over to smooth out the texture. Whew!

The hardest part of all? Stopping in time. It’s the kind of drawing I could have continued picking at for a few more hours, but I knew that would only make it worse, not better.


  1. Wonderful! Beautiful baby….

  2. I think you did an awesome job on this portrait of Kaila!!! Babies are so hard to sketch. I went back and checked out the other sketches you had done for Alex and Selia and smiled at the sketch of the wedding. The only time I thought about doing that was my niece's wedding in Australia, but they didn't even want anyone taking photos during the wedding ceremony. Instead I sketched the outdoor location where the ceremony was going to take place. I was already decorated. I left space for their figures and I did that part from a photo. When I gave it to her she was so happy. Friend of hers kept telling her that they saw me sketching all over the farm we were staying at and hoped she would end up with something I was sketching. So it was perfect!

    1. Aww, that sounds like it was a wonderful experience for both you and the wedding couple! I remember Alix & Seila's ceremony was so short that I barely had time to make the sketch!

  3. What a beautiful portrait and a wonderful idea! It is so hard to draw babies, but this is adorable.


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