Face Making

Artist Gwenn Seemel’s bilingual blog about all the faces she makes while painting faces and other things.

Drawing life

2009 . 11 . 02 - Comments / Commentaires (2)

Recently, I spent a few weeks visiting with my grandmother in the retirement home in France where she lives now.  On the third day of visiting, I started to draw her on a whim while my mother painted her mother’s nails.



a pen and ink portrait of a woman

9 October

I only had a red pen and my small agenda notebook to work with. 



a pen and ink portrait of a woman

9 October

That first day, the results of my efforts were not impressive. 



a pen and ink portrait of a woman

10 and 12 October

I realized that my challenges were twofold: 1) I’d gone far too long without doing some life drawing, and 2) I needed to relearn my grandmother’s face since I hadn’t drawn or painted her in a while.



a pen and ink portrait of a woman

12 October

As the days wore one, I steadily improved, aided in part by a wider array of markers and bigger notebook.



a pen and ink portrait of a woman

14 October

A few days in, I was already able to capture more fleeting expressions, like in this image of my grandmother sucking on a hard candy. 



a pen and ink portrait of a woman

14 and 15 October

Every day, I would start multiple drawings, following my Mamy as she interacted with us and with the world around her.



a pen and ink portrait of a woman

15 October

I would finish whichever ones her natural movements allowed me to focus on. 



drawing my grandmother

16 October, photo by my mother

My grandmother found my drawings more interesting than photos—all of which are of people she does not recognize anymore, including those of me, my mother, and my Mamy’s own dead husband. 



a pen and ink portrait of a woman

16 October

She didn’t necessarily see herself in my sketches or even like my representations of her, but she enjoyed my attentive gaze and appreciated the human touch of an image produced by marker and pen on paper.



my grandmother

18 October

To begin with, I concentrated on capturing her smiling, but, while she does often smile, she just as easily has more concentrated or distracted looks on her face.



my grandmother

18 October

It seemed a shame to edit her being and my memory of her just to comfort myself.



a pen and ink portrait of a woman

18 October

I don’t think I managed to depict her profile properly, though this is probably the closest I came.



a pen and ink portrait of a woman

18 October

Here, Mamy was watching me as I drew.



a pen and ink portrait of a woman

19 October

On this day, she was tired. 



my grandmother

19 October

But we’d just cut and washed her hair, so, when I took the camera out, she found the energy to smile because she knew she was looking good.



a pen and ink portrait of a woman

20 October

Another attempt at her profile.  I find that angle hard enough to capture when I’m working from a photograph…!



a pen and ink portrait of a woman

20 October

Not a successful drawing day for me altogether.



a pen and ink portrait of a woman

21 October

On the last day of our visit, Mamy was not feeling well.  She was napping in her room when we arrived instead of waiting eagerly in the lobby for my mother and me—two people whom she doesn’t recognize but does rather like.  It was sad visiting her daily and knowing all the while that we’d have to leave her for another year all too soon, but it was sadder still on our final day in Brittany when she was sick in bed. 

Then again, it’s always been like this for me with my grandparents—intense moments of love and togetherness followed by a year without seeing each other while I went back to my life in the US.  And it’s always been hard on me and on them, but, as my grandmother once pointed out, at least we have those weeks together now and then.


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CATEGORIES: - Drawing - Portraiture - Practice -



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(2) Comments / Commentaires: Drawing life

-- Bev Langby -- 2013 . 06 . 16 --

Gwenn I loved seeing your sketches progress ,a bittersweet time for u ,thanks for sharing them,I found u via Mystele,s group. You have inspired me to try sketching this way again..
Hugz bev

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-- Gwenn -- 2013 . 06 . 17 --

Thanks Bev!  I love how contagious different kinds of creativity can be!

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