Time Spent With Family
It’s ten o’clock. Do you know where your children are? Of course, I do. They are here with me. It’s quarantine life and they are less than seven years of age. They won’t be out after ten o’ clock till they are twenty years old or so I hope. Since they are here with me, that can only mean they are not in bed. They are busy jumping off the walls, doing somersaults, hanging off of curtains and anything else to prevent themselves from sleeping. Unfortunately, I have really let go of bedtime for one reason or another and now I am struggling to get them to bed on time every single night.
I plead with them to get to bed once again. Rihab, the oldest of the bunch, is busy setting up two pieces of paper. She hands me a paper backed with a sturdy book and nudges a box of colored pencils and markers closer to me. “Let’s draw each other’s portraits. It’s a challenge. Go, go, go!” Rihab attempts to pit me against a duel. She can’t be serious. It’s beyond their bedtime and she is trying to engage me in the leisurely act of drawing. As I begin to open my mouth to repeat the pedantic motherly words I had said for what seemed like the tenth time, Rihab proudly declares that she is winning. I look at her paper and she has carefully drawn out the major features of what seems to be an archetypal librarian. “Do I look like a librarian to you?” I ask her. She nods her head and laughs. Something about her playful laugh makes me forget all about bedtime and prompts me to pick up the pencil and introduce it to the blank white sheet of paper.
I love the solidity of the Ticonderoga # 2 pencil in my hand as I wield it to sketch the roundness of Rihab’s face. I am Goldilocks thinking the sharpness of the lead is “just right”: not too sharp so as to break on impact and not too blunt so as to render uncontrollable unsightly thick marks. I look at Rihab and attempt her eyebrows on the paper. They frame the face so they need to be well drawn. Not a hair out of place. The eyes come next, presumably the windows to the soul. I want to capture Rihab’s playfulness and the lit up shine in her eyes. The nose is very important and the most defining feature in my opinion. If one messes the nose then just throw that portrait out the window. It might as well just be anybody else aside from the subject one is drawing. I use my pointer finger to rub against lines of the nose creating a shaded effect to showcase the illusion of a three dimensional nose. I am one with the portrait as it comes to life. At this point, Rihab is done with her drawing and she is putting some finishing touches by adding splashes of color.
I need to be quick or else I’ll lose for sure. I capture Rihab’s endearing smile. Laugh lines need to be added. They run in the family. I rub my pointer against the grain of the paper again to add more depth to the laugh line. I am obsessed with this novice form of shading technique. It’s obviously the only technique I know. Rihab looks over and says, “Mama, don’t forget to show my missing teeth.” She’s so proud of her missing teeth as she recently lost them and garnered money for them from the tooth fairy. I try to draw her with missing teeth but unfortunately she ends up looking like a pirate. I quickly think of a solution and space out the teeth so as to reach a good compromise of showcasing the missing teeth while still looking like a love-able child. Now, all she needs is a neck to hold her head up high.
Time to color in my hard earned portrait. This should be the fun part or so it seems. The color I choose for her skin tone dies on me midway. I pick another color to do it justice but the damage has been done. I end up with two different skin tones on the same face. I color in the brownness of her eyes and the crimson of her lips. I think I did a great job, since I am a novice artist and have nothing else to compare my work to.
Rihab and I compare the portraits and just keep laughing. We question each other if we really look like our portraits. Rihab answers, “Mama, I tried my best but what was in my head and what I saw did not really come out that way on paper. But we tried our best. Right?” Time and time again, my little girl sparks a great insight in me. I aspire to write great stories and they all sound like fine works of art in my head. When I translate them to paper or transmit them through my voice, there’s a world of a difference from the stories in my head to those that eventually make it out into the world. I must forgive myself and just keep trying my best. I must also remember to keep having fun in the process. The end results might not be what I expect but the journey along the way is worth it. Trying my best and having fun is worth it. Without further ado, I present to you our portraits.
How do you think we did? Have you ever drawn a loved ones’ portrait?