Monday, October 27, 2008

The Mirror Trick for Kid Portraits

The hard part about painting a kid from life is getting him to hold still for more than ten minutes. Here’s a trick. Set up a full-length mirror behind you so that your subject can watch you work. They will be captivated for at least two hours if you’re lucky. That’s how I painted this picture of my son Franklin when he was seven years old.

12 comments:

Erik Bongers said...

Annnnd again I learned something...

Thomas Brissot said...

Aha very good trick. Clever!

Artemisio said...

two hours?! i wouldn't stay still now, and i'm 21! XD kudos to your kid and your trick, ahah!

Alicia Padrón said...

That is a wonderful tip, never would of thought of that.

His expression is amazing! His gaze is telling so much, like he is really out there concentrating on something. It makes me want to sit beside him so I can also take a look. I love it. :o)

Sean Craven said...

Just a little while ago my wife's grandson Cooper was drawing at our kitchen table and on impulses I started to sketch him using the crayons he had out.

I was only able to get a few seconds of posing time, and later when the missus saw the results she was grumpy.

"You could have done a better job then that."

Thanks for giving me a clue.

If curious:

http://seancraven.blogspot.com/2008/10/hanging-with-cooper.html

Dan Gurney, Mr. Kindergarten said...

There's something very captivating about watching a drawing emerge from a blank canvas or paper.

When I draw in front of my class I've noticed that the process of drawing captures and holds the class's attention for comparatively long periods of time.

Singing and drawing: that's what kindergarten should emphasize far more than is common these days.

Alandiras said...

Brilliant idea. :)

Summer said...

Seems like a nice thing to do for anyone, not just a young person.

arecol said...

magnifique
ce portrait est vivant
J'aime énormément
faites vous des portraits d'enfants
d'après photos ?
Puis-je vous en commander ?

James said...

Sadly, for all too many of us, the response to Mr. Craven's efforts says it all............J

James Gurney said...

Thanks everyone!

James and Craven, I can relate to the frustration of quick portrait sketches that don't work out. For every sketch that I publish on this blog, there are two or three lame efforts that I'd be embarrassed to share. But that's the way it goes when you try to sketch life on the run.

Arecol, thank for your very nice compliments. I'm sorry, I'm not able to do commissioned portraits right now.

Dan, I totally agree that watching someone draw is spellbinding. One of my illustrator friends, Mike Wimmer actually draws a demonstration portrait of a student in front of his classroom, which is very brave both for the model and the artist.

Another thought about this mirror trick is that you don't necessarily need a mirror. You could use a camera and a monitor if you're technically set up for it.

Timpa said...

Very Ashcan Jim!