My friend has presented me with a challenging commission.  She gave me several pictures of some friends of hers, parents and two siblings, who are close, but now sundered by distance and death.  Could I put them all together in one picture?

After studying the photos and tentatively deciding on a composition, I started drawing.  This is the hardest part for me because it is the most crucial.  If the drawing is right, the picture will usually turn out well.  If the drawing is wrong, no amount of finessing with the paint will make it right.

I started drawing the figures on one sheet of paper, but I have had to correct so many times that the old lines are starting to confuse the images.  The spacing is also wrong, so I decided to “divide and conquer” by putting the individual people on tracing paper so that I can move them around before setting them into the composition.

I have several pictures of the brother, but wanted to have his legs crossed the other way, so that it appears he is interacting with the others more.  I can tell that I don’t have the arms of the chair right and the left leg is not convincing. The cropping of the photo doesn’t show his feet, nor the father’s.  I haven’t decided how to handle that yet!

The sister is the only one standing, so I want to place her a little behind the others, as if she has walked up and joined the discussion.  (My apologies for the crooked drawing; it is too tall for my scanner except on the diagonal and won’t straighten any more than this without loosing part of the drawing.)

I’m having some trouble with the father, because I want him to be smiling (at least a little) and enjoying time with his family!

The picture of the mother is the least distinct photo, being a photo of a photo in a glass frame.  I’ve taken her out of the car and had her join the group on the patio.  Adding the dog she is holding actually makes the drawing easier since he is just a white fluffy area with a few shadows.

Now to put them together on one piece of paper!  Drawing the people again (and again) will give me more practice until they look like who they are supposed to be.