|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!
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.