Awesome # 359: Creating Something Beautiful

When I had resolved to create something beautiful, I had one portrait in mind.

Since middle school, I’d found pleasure and relative ease in capturing the likeness of people from a photograph. However, lacking proper media (namely, anything more than a regular HB pencil) and actual training (my high school visual arts class focused more on still lives and painting than it did observational drawing of people), my drawings still came out a bit flat and disproportioned – such as this portrait that I’d drawn of Freddie Prinze Junior that I’d drawn in the 11th grade;

drawing 1
This portrait that I’d drawn of Josh Hartnett shortly thereafter;

drawing 4
And this portrait that I’d drawn of the man on the cover of Our Lady Peace’s Naveed album thereafter still;

drawing 2
After a long (approximately 6 years, on account of a busy university education and much travel) hiatus from my sketchbook, I was inspired to open it up again in 2010 (my first year in Tasiujaq), as long arctic winters allowed for lots of time for developing talents. In an old sketchbook with a mechanical HB pencil, I draw this portrait of Alison, the daughter of my friend Janet (Janet was a colleague of mine that year):

drawing 3

Then, that Christmas, I’d received a gift from my mother that really piqued my interest in drawing again – The Big Book of Realistic Drawing Secrets: Easy Techniques for Drawing People, Animals and More  by Carrie Stuart Parks and Rick Parks:

Truly inspired to grow at least a little more as an artist, I immediately went to Michaels and bought my first set of artists graphite pencils, and a new sketchbook.

After reading a chapter of this book, I gave my first attempt at drawing a person with facial hair, and using my eraser to simulate reflected light – my father, from a photograph taken shortly before he got sick:

drawing 6

It was with this book that I really started using grids – as my ability to draw exact proportions and capture even tiny details was still a work-in-progress. Helping prevent visual overstimulation, dividing an image up into smaller pieces and focusing on one piece at a time forces your eye to interpret far fewer details at any given moment. Thus, there is more of a chance you will capture accurate angles, even when they’re slight, and less of a chance that you will miss these details as you draw from the image. As a result, your drawing will be more accurate and realistic.

With that technique, I created the something beautiful that I aimed to create when I devised my list of resolutions last New Year’s day. It was by far the most complex of portraits I’d drawn to date, from a photograph of my father that my sister had taken:


I’d reached my resolution early in the year, but, those of you who have been following my blog have seen that I didn’t stop there. While this portrait of my father was the one of which I am most proud, I found myself unable to close my sketchbook, especially since returning to Tasiujaq in August.

I drew this Inuit elder with her heartwarming smile;

Jodie Elder
this Inuit mother with a baby in her amautik;


and I even strayed away from drawing portraits of people to try my hand at drawing fauna, with this herd of muskoxen;

I think beauty has definitely been created this year.


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