Sketching My Family During the Holidays

12 Dec 2013

The Weissmans by Rama Hughes, 2007.
The Weissmans by Rama Hughes, 2007.
During family get-togethers when my younger cousins were much smaller, they would always want to draw together or for me to draw pictures for them. Oh, man, they set the bar high! Princesses in gowns, cars and trucks, monsters—my little cousin Austin once asked for a galloping horse that took an hour of work before that sketch drawing passed muster.

The most fun that we had was drawing silly pictures together. We’d draw googly-eyed puppies and people making funny faces or wearing outrageous costumes. Those are great memories. I wish I had saved the pictures, but at the time I didn’t think how a quick sketch done on a napkin or on the back of a sheet of paper could mean so much years later. In the same way, I would love to have a sketch of my grandpa—who has since passed away—sitting on his stool in the kitchen making the fruitcake that no one ever ate, or a drawing of my whole family gathered around the kitchen table teasing one another and playing cards.

Drawing for "Evening" by Mary Cassatt, 1879-80, conte crayon on paper. Courtesy Hood Museum of Art.
Drawing for "Evening" by Mary Cassatt,
1879-80, conte crayon on paper.
Courtesy Hood Museum of Art.
That’s why this year I’m going to try to dedicate time to sketching my family. I don’t know if I would have thought of this idea if I wasn't as sensitive to the power of art, and how we can create moving artwork from our everyday experiences. This idea has really opened my eyes. The people and places around us can be powerful subjects, and that can be especially true during this time of the year, when families tend to come together. A quick sketch of two family members embracing, a newborn baby being cuddled by its mother, or even the drama and kookiness that families all have—I think it all has the potential for being translated into moving artwork.

Painting and drawing skills can be used to create mementos that act like windows into our lives. We can employ our artistic skills to mark occasions we don’t want to forget. And because we make them ourselves, these kinds of objects carry way more power than a mere snapshot. So if you have someone in your life who loves art, or if there are little ones in the family who you’d love to start teaching about the art that inspires you, or if you are like me and want that inspiration again and again in your own life, think about taking the opportunity to sketch with them. Teach them the joy of drawing, maybe by starting with doodles and fun exercises that you'll find in the Zentangle Untangled Ultimate Collection. It is a great way to make art part of our daily life and inspire great artworks that are made just for us, by us!

P.S. There's no partridge in a pear tree, but there are tons of great art prizes in this year's Holiday Sweepstakes. Check them out and enter to win! Today's prize is a Super Prism Projector by Artograph. Ooh-la-la!


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Comments

Muna Shabab wrote
on 3 Dec 2010 6:44 AM

That is so sweet! I never thought about it that way. It is like combining my two favorite things in one, family and art. Thank you for sharing.

on 3 Dec 2010 11:36 AM

This is a beautiful idea. I would love to do the same, but I am the one i the kitchen almost all night.

I do this with my nieces sometimes on regular visits, though. It creates some wonderful memories.

Diane

Diane Costanza Studio

on 3 Dec 2010 11:36 AM

This is a beautiful idea. I would love to do the same, but I am the one i the kitchen almost all night.

I do this with my nieces sometimes on regular visits, though. It creates some wonderful memories.

Diane

Diane Costanza Studio

Young5 wrote
on 8 Dec 2010 2:30 AM

Suggestion ....

Family and visitors will often congregate around the TV at some point, either individually or as a group.  This can be a good opportunity to draw or paint (pastels for me) and capture them in natural and not "posed" poses.  The TV is a distraction and after a little while the "models" are less aware of you.

I did a pastel of my wife while she was watching her TV program which she was absorbed in. The Painting worked out well, but she forbids me to show it.  It too realistically caught her in her relaxed moment, with a big comfy robe and her TV glasses and not her contacts. I'll do this again, but be more discerning about what to leave out or use some license. This home model is easy prey for an artist.

on 13 Dec 2013 2:23 PM

Courtney—

What a wonderful article and what beautiful, personal thoughts and memories.

When my nieces were little the big thing was to gather around the kitchen table and draw with Uncle Pete. Now I'm doing the same thing with their kids. However, I know that I am really the one who is having the most fun.

Yes, I also wish I had saved those family drawings from long ago.

Paul