The Art of Sandra Busby...
Painter of Playful Light in Glass and Still Life


Tuesday, 1 March 2011

For my Dad...

This is a pencil drawing of my Dad and It's my Dad's birthday today, so I'm blogging it as a special happy birthday post! 

© Sandra Busby. Graphite pencils

Before I go on, here is the photograph I worked from...

The photograph was taken some years ago and strangely, the drawing looks far more like he does now than it does the photograph. Perhaps it's because I wasn't just copying the image in front of me, but I was also visualizing him in my head as I worked. 

It was quite a challenge really because when I was handed the photograph, I was told that both my Mum (who can draw very well) and my Uncle Danny (an established Artist) had attempted to draw my Dad, but neither had managed to get him quite right.
Anyone who knows me well, will tell you that when I am presented with a difficult challenge, I simply have to take it on! 

Once I had established the position of the features and distances between, the hardest part was over.
I found the eyes relatively easy  - I mean, I've been looking in to them my whole life! But the mouth? Well, that really was a challenge! 
It's not the shape that I found difficult, but there is a particular way that he holds his mouth that I can't explain - it must be just the use of one tiny muscle and that makes all the difference to the likeness should I have got it wrong.

It is surprising that by simply placing a single highlight in the wrong place, can mean the difference between a capturing a good likeness, or not. I suppose it must be because the way the light hits the face determines the shape of the skull and muscles beneath.

Whether this drawing of my Dad is anymore successful than my Mums or my Uncle Danny's attempts, I don't yet know as I have never seen them.  Perhaps the best person to judge is my Dad himself...

...Happy birthday Dad!!!


  1. Sandra, this is such an incredible gift and your heart just flows from this piece! The likeness is remarkable, too. Happy Birthday to your Dad :).

  2. you look like Sandra Bullock!
    and now I see Richard Gere in your father! wow!

    you did such a wonderful job..I absolutely love the blending...your tonal values are must have used a smudging stump...I love those!
    great job..and it is so much the mark of an artist to draw something near and dear to her heart....I do the same!

    thanks for sharing...and this is a comfort zone! in so many ways!
    embrace it!

    ciao bella

    Creative Carmelina

  3. Sandra, I'm blown away by this one. You did a fabulous job!! I know what you mean about the highlight. I did a painting of my nephew and just thickening one line on his eye by a mm made a huge difference. Absolutely beautiful!

  4. Your dad's portrait is amazing, Sandra! I think you should do more portraits, also using colors. Please, do it! I think you have talent for this. Happybirthday to your dad. Hugs from Anamaria

  5. A really wonderful portrait! The likeness is very good! I think Anamaria is right, you do have talent for this!
    Happy birthday to your Dad1

  6. Sandra
    What a wonderful gift for your dad. You've created a very good likeness! Wish your dad a Happy Birthday for me!

  7. Great portrait! An amazing likeness!
    Congrats and Happy birthday to your Dad!!


  8. Hello Sandra

    Its Grandad! I like it but I want it to be colourful like the picture.

    Love William

  9. I think you've done an excellent job, I can also see similarities in your photo too. Happy Birthday Sandra's Dad!

  10. I am in awe.. This portrait is so damn good. And your dad does look like Richard Gere. :)

  11. I don't know why you feel out of your comfort zone with this one Sandra, as it is quite a remarkable piece of work as well as a pretty good likeness too.
    Have to agree with CARMELINA about your dad looking like Richard Gere.
    If I am going to nit-pick, the trouble you are having with the mouth is that it looks a little too straight and flat. Your dad's mouth pulls in quite sharpely at the corners, with a distinct shadow at the (left to us) corner. More shading here and a fraction more curvature may help.

  12. It's a great gift for your dad! Arianna

  13. Sandy - Thank you very much. I gave it to him last night and he loves it! :0D

    Carmelina - Thank you! You are not the first to say he looks like Richard Gere. And I've always thought that myself. You are the first, however to say that I look like Sandra Bullock - I wish!!! I actually used a cotton but to blend. I prefer that to a stump because it is a little more subtle :0)

    Carrie - Wow! Thank you very much! It is surprising how easy it is to lose a likeness once you have it, which is why I stopped when I did :0)

    Anamaria - Thank you very much! I have always avoided faces before now. Perhaps I should try another, as you say, in colour :0)

    Judy - Thank you very much! I didn't expect it to be a success! :0)

    Studio - Thank you very much! He has been reading all of the comments and I know he is very chuffed with all the birthday messages, so thank you :0)

    Franz- Thank you very much :0)

  14. William - Thank you so much my little sugar coated lolly-pop. I might try another in colour one day :0)

    Cathy - I think I have got my Dads features and my Mums hair and expressions! I am glad you like it too. Thank you :0)

    Prabal - Thank you so much! I am really glad you like it! If I drew the same again tomorrow after all of the 'Richard Gere' comments, I am sure his head will be much bigger, lol :0D

    Frank - Thank you very much! I suppose I was just nervous about drawing a face in pencil as it's not something I've ever attempted seriously. I am so glad I did though and maybe I won't avoid them from here on.
    It's funny that you should mention the mouth because I noticed the same, just after scanning this picture and having looked at it with fresh eyes. I adjusted it slightly before giving it to him yesterday. It's barely noticable but makes all the difference. His mouth was definitely the most challenging part :0)

    Arianna - Thank you very much! :0)

  15. Sandra, just got your em rushed over here. was away yesterday.. OMG.. your dad is first so young and handsome .. He looks like that Richard Gere. Youv'e done an awesome job, believe me I am proud of you.!!! not that you couldn't have done it without my encouraging .your so sweet to link me to you... by now my drawings of portaits, Gracie, and Sophistication are way down there. Haven't done much lately but girl you encourage me .. thanks now do another one ..LOL ! bj

  16. Hi Sandra, congratulations! To me, you did such a wonderful job, this portrait is really fantastic. Happy birthday to your Dad. Ciao!

  17. What a fantastic portrait! You really have captured his likeness and I understand completely what you mean about how one tweak too many or a line or shading in the wrong place can make it suddenly not look like the person any more - in my case it is one or two dots in the wrong place and it's a goner!

    I'm sure you're dad must've been delighted with this!

  18. This is a great portrait of your Dad, he is so handsome. Im glad he likes it

  19. Wow! Not surprised he loves it - you've done an excellent job! Looks like you could be a natural at portraits :) xx

  20. Sandra this is a beautiful portrait and certainly doesn't look like your first. Amazing. This has come at the right time for me because I am working on my first portrait too, so I'll be scrutinising yours for tips. If I can do half as well as you have done, I'll be very happy. Great job.

  21. Your dad looks like a marvellous person and he is one very lucky man to have this done of him. Will you please paint me.

  22. It's lovely Sandra. I'm sure your dad was over-the-moon to receive such a beautiful present.

  23. Brilliant! So like him too!!

  24. This comment has been removed by the author.

  25. Hi Sandra. I am now on attempt number four at putting this comment on your blogg. Blogging and me don't get on so I have enlisted the help of you sister to upload this. I was determined that this comment should go on to your blogg as I cannot thank you enough for the marvellous birthday gift of my portrait. I had no idea you were working on it so it came as a complete and very pleasant surprise. It will be hung in pride of place at home if I can retrieve it from your mother. She won't let me have it until she has shown all her friends.You are certainly very talented and have come a long way since as a small girl you drew cartoon worms. So thank you once more and my thanks to those bloggy friends of yours who wished me a happy birthday. My thanks to them also for the encouragement they give you on your art.
    Love. Dad. XX

  26. Barbra - Thank you! My Dad has been so pleased to read all of these wonderfful comments! And so many birthday wishes from all aroud the world :0)
    So, when will you be adding another portrait to your collection? :0)

    Tito - Thank you very mch for your very kind wishes! :0)

    Pointy Pix - You are right, he was so chuffed! Pointillism isn't something I have ever attempted before - It is SO clever! Maybe one day :0)

    Jill - Thank you! My Dad is probably not so handsome at this moment, following all of these lovely comments, since I am sure his head must be very swollen, lol!!

    Pat - Thank you! I think it's of an advantage to draw someone you love or know extremely well. Take my dog, who I found easy to draw, but someone elses dog was far more of a challenge. So far I have only attempted portraits of my Dad, my Sister and my Daughter. But I wonder if I would find it quite so easy to capture a person that I only know from the outside and not the inside too? :0)

    John - Thank you so much! If I could possibly give you any tips at all, it would be to try and look inside the person as well as what you see on the outside. I found a cotton bud to be a very useful tool and also a putty rubber. I am really looking forward to seeing your portrait :o)

  27. Ralph - What a compliment! Thank you! I could certainly have a go :0)
    You are right, my Dad really is a marvelous person. We are very lucky :0)

    Sue - Thank you. Yes he was! :0)

    Amanda - Well you of course would be a very good judge! Thank you! :0)

  28. Dad - If I didn't already know how pleased you were, which I did, I would definitely know now :0D
    I can't help feeling mildly amused by the trauma you went through in trying to post your comment! It means SO much to me that you did! :0) Thank you Amanda for coming to the rescue!!!
    I remember the drawings you speak of - Worms and rabbits were my speciality! lol!
    I wonder how I'll be drawing in ten years from now...?
    It means the world to be able to make you and Mum proud :0))))

  29. sandra, you am stunned! you are indeed gifted! a stunning pencil portrait. i love the continuous value throughout, it gives it such an ethereal feeling! it looks as thought is was done with your heart, not a pencil at all. he must be so thrilled and proud. beautifully done!!! and oh my, what an incredibly handsome father you have!

  30. great portrait. i like the new look of your blog, too.

  31. Suzanne - Thank you so much for your lovely comment. It has totally made my day that you like it so much :0) Maybe I will try some more! And my Dad is enjoying all of the comments about how handsome he is too :0D

    Liana - Thank you very much! I thought it was time to freshen it up a bit :0)

  32. Sandy,beautiful likeness and wonderfully drawn portrait. I think this is your thing... really. Fine job. Great lookin dad!

  33. Cathy - Thank you very much! And I haven't forgotten about your flowers! I will paint some soon! :0)

  34. Hi Sandra, congratulations. Great portrait!

  35. You made a fantastic portrait of your dad, I bet that he is so happy of this wonderful gift! I can see your love in it... (your dad looks a little like Richard Gere... wow!)

  36. Hi Sandra,
    I'm happy I discovered your blog, you're really a talented artist!

    ... Great portrait,congratulations!happy birthday to your dad

  37. Antonio - Thank you very much :0)

    Cristina - Thank you! So many people say the same thing about he and Richard Gere! Myself included :0)

    Giada - What a lovely thing to say. Thank you so much for stopping by. Hope to see you again :0)

  38. Dear Sandra.
    An amazing work!

  39. artebaiao - Thank you so much! you are very kind :0)

  40. Beautiful drawing! Your dad must be very pleased.

  41. your dad will treasure your gift sandra ..he sounds so proud of you ... you've captured his eyes beautifully

  42. it's a wonderfull homage to your dad, it's an excelent gift, nothing is more personal :) and by the way you work very well with pencil, nice tecnhic! good shades :D

  43. Lorraine - Thank you so much for visiting my blog and for your lovely comment :0)

    Jane - Thank you. Yes, he was proud and that made me very happy :0)

    Dynamite - Thank you! I am better with pencil than I am with watercolour as you will see by my next post! But hopefully I will improve with practice as I did with pencil :0)

  44. Oh Sandra. . . That is just simply wonderful! What a living, breathing, loving portrait you've done! I am pretty nearly speechless here Sandra. Really I think this is the best piece that I've seen from you, not just technically (although it is that, Wowser!!) but emotionally. You have captured more than a likeness here, you've captured his soul, the goal of all us portrait artists. Well done!!!!!!! :)

  45. Crystal - I am reeeeeally glad you like it. I was hoping you would, since you are the QUEEN of portraits! Is it only possible to capture someone's personality if it is someone you know and love? I am sure if I had been given a photo of a stranger it wouldn't have turned out nearly so well :0)


Thank you so much for leaving a comment! Where possible I will respond via email. I really do love to read them! They always make me smile ;0)


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