Exercise 3 – Portrait from the memory or imagination

For this exercise I decided to re-visit something I had recently scribbled in my sketchbook, some random drawings from my imagination that ended up turning out quite nicely.


At the time there was no rhyme nor reason to these drawings, but having discussed the initial drawing in an online chat with other course mates, ideas started to emerge about the reason for these unknown children, and connotations were lent towards war children, or that they are sad in some way. The stories that could be attached to this drawing are endless, so I decided to have another go at this in large.

All of these drawings are on very large pieces of paper, the first had a bit of a shine to it so I couldn’t get the depth in the charcoal that I wanted.


The second drawing is on tracing paper which I love, but the composition is not as haunting as that first drawing. I think the figures were too big in relation to the paper, which means its lost the delicate nature of the original drawing.


The last drawing was also large, this time with the original gesso painted onto the tracing paper, and then drawn over with charcoal. I also used biro as in the first small drawing, however the size of the drawing means that this is lost, and I do need to find an alternative to biro when I’m working on this scale. I also felt the smudging wasn’t the same as in the original drawing. I’m wondering whether an ink under wash with charcoal lines over the top might work better.

The drawing is on tracing paper, so the photos show the different backgrounds at the time. The first background is the wooden board that I draw on.


This background is me putting the tracing paper up against a glass window and letting the light shine through it. Its given the gesso a dirty colour which is interesting, and also shows the brush work of the gesso.


And lastly, pinned to a plain white wall.


I do like this drawing – but I feel the biro is lost on it, so I need to find an alternative, and also the composition is much better in the initial drawing. This group of figures needs to be in the top right of the page, leaving the bottom blank.

Prior to writing up this idea/exercise, I kept thinking about how I could improve these drawings, and how they could be perceived by viewers. I have recently been having issues with the fact that my work doesn’t MEAN anything – there is no narrative to it generally (my landscapes) and this has always really upset me. What you see is pretty much what you get. So when I drew this drawing I did it with an empty head. However, a narrative can be seen by the viewer, and this can be further helped by giving it a title. My initial thoughts on the first drawing were war children, refugees, children that were lost, hence the sad fragile feeling of the drawing. but on drawing more of these, more titles kept popping into my head, and I have listed these below for my own future reference. It was so interesting to hear that I could add a narrative AFTER creating an image, and that it wasn’t necessarily important to be creating with that narrative in mind. This has also opened up huge areas for me, as it means I can just create without that narrow corridor that I was previously thinking I had to work through.

Possible titles for future drawings.

Lost in utero, Over my shoulder, Helicopter parent, Lost ones, The other children, Expectation, Identical twin, Twin to Twin transfusion, Vanishing Twin Syndrome, They went, The others, The ones we lost, Pressure from above, Cosseted.

Some of these hinted towards twin pregnancies, and having had twins myself and having the worries during the first trimester of pregnancy, the not so good drawing of the child with the shadow behind them really brought out those feelings.

This whole exercise has opened up a whole new area for me, and is something I could possibly develop further in the future.


4 thoughts on “Exercise 3 – Portrait from the memory or imagination

  1. project 5 is all about exploring a theme and coming up with a question for the visual enquiry that you can use as a guide to experiment. Your work suggests to me something like….What kinds of support and drawing media can be used to most sensitively portray our lost children?
    It suggest a whole project too,looking for other artists who have portrayed e.g. children in wars, children who are in some way lost or forgotten.
    I agree that finding a title for the work is best left to the end when we realise what our subconscious has been working on!
    I think that a strength of your work is its sensitivity to children and animals which you are prepared to draw without sentimentality, which I find moving. Also it feels like the beginnings of a very personal project, which is I think also exciting for you and very rewarding for others too because it touches on their experiences.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The missing twin! I wouldn’t usually share this but like Susan says – your work touches on other’s experiences. My dad was a twin but cut off all contact with his twin sister when their mother died young (they were teenagers). I’ve never knew why and he never told. Aside from my own kids I have no family left and recently started (tentatively!) to look into my family history. One of the crazy discoveries was that despite living their entire lives disconnected from each other my father’s twin sister died just weeks before my father. Spooky!


    1. Thats so weird Kim, they are quite bizarre the way my children work. They lose teeth at exactly the same time and then are so in sync its quite scary. I’m so sorry for your loss though – such a shame you never got to meet her. If I go down that route, would you mind if I added this story to it please?


  3. Yep quite a large chunk of my family I never got to meet. Absolutely do use the story if you go that route – how I found out about my ‘missing’ aunt’s death is a whole other peculiar matter!
    Quite sure your twins will stay in sync and in touch all their long lives!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s