Drawing your own child

My pregnant daughter was being drawn by a colleague at a book presentation this weekend and when she was asked if I’d also made lots of drawings of her she answered, much to my embarrassment… ‘NO!’
I tried to explain to everybody that I had made some sketches of her when she was a child, but I still felt terribly guilty that I hadn’t been more productive when she was little, seizing the opportunity of recording those precious childhood years of my only child.

And then I got to thinking why? Why did I make so few drawings of my sweet little girl?

My excuse, which seems pretty lame now, was that as a single mother with the sole responsibility of bringing up my child on my own, earning the cost and also working full time as a freelance illustrator, was that I was often just dead tired exhausted most of the time!

But to be honest that wasn’t the sole reason, for me.
The most nagging reason, when I really think about it, was the painful awareness of my own frustrating inadequacy of not getting anywhere near to capturing, on paper, the innocent beauty and breathtaking miracle of my own child!
To me experiencing my beautiful daughter and the whole fantastic adventure of being a mother was with my eyes, with my heart, with my arms, when I hugged her, and with all my senses, day in day out, which no pencil, or pen, or piece of paper-for me-could ever compete with.

When Lisa and I visited my mother in her cottage in England, we shared the flowery spare bedroom together.
One summer morning in July 1996 I woke up very early and while the birds were singing in my mothers garden, I made little scribbly sketches in my notebook/diary as Lisa slept.
Here are a couple:

Lisa 4:15am Saturday morning 13-7-96 (note toes sticking out from under the covers!)
Lisa 4:15am Saturday morning 13-7-96 (note toes sticking out from under the covers!)
Didn't get her hands or toes right so here in more detail..oh gone toes! I hear the birds twittering in my mothers garden. A new day full new, not the same - but full of anticipation</
Didn’t get her hands or toes right so here in more detail..oh gone toes!
“I hear the birds twittering in my mothers garden. A new day full new not the same-but full of
13/7/96 5 o'clock in the morning.
13/7/96 5 o’clock in the morning.

And this is what I wrote that summer morning nearly eighteen years ago whilst watching her sleep:
….en dan kijk ik naar haar en ik wil dat het altijd blijft- zij 7½ jaar mijn kind mijn kleine meid, hier gevangen zoals in het tekening voor altijd mijn kleine lieve kind.
….and then I look at her and I wish that it will always stay this way – she 7½ years old my child my little girlie, here captured just like in the drawing for always my little dearest child.

16 thoughts on “Drawing your own child”

  1. Can imagine how you feel Lin. But you are only human and you did your best at the time. Trouble is time goes by so quickly, and before you know it those lovely precious childhood days are gone. But soon you will have your Grandson to draw, and the time and energy to do it.

  2. But….I did take lots and lots and lots of photo’s!
    So Lisa’s childhood is lovingly captured, documented and saved in many photo albums! I did do something right!!

  3. The drawings that you did do are just beautiful Lin! You are an amazing Mum which shows in everything you do! Lisa knows how lucky she is and loves you so much, if she is half as good a Mum as you are (and she will be because you have taught her!) then your gorgeous little Grandson will be one very lucky boy!! You can do lots of drawings of Lisa and bubs then and I can’t wait to see them!! Lots and lots of love to you all! XXXXX

  4. Lieve Linda,

    zo mooi als jij het hier hebt opgeschreven, zou ik nooit kunnen. Maar je zegt wel precies wat ik ook heb ervaren: de werkdruk van een kleine zelfstandige, altijd in gevecht met deadlines of de angst niet genoeg opdrachten te krijgen om brood mee op de plank te brengen.

    Maar intussen wel een schat aan foto’s produceren, want je kunt dat kleine wezentje van opvreten. Je wilt geen moment missen, terwijl je toch de tijd voelt wegvlieden. Je zou je liefde voor dat wezentje in je tekeningen willen vastleggen, op papier zetten hoe perfect ze is, maar je weet dat je talent dat nooit allemaal kan behappen.

    Wat een zwangere dochter en een tekenende vriendin-collega allemaal kan losmaken! Geweldig, dit blog!


  5. Great Maartje Jaquet! Thanks for sharing!
    Again that lounging lolling state of relaxation – as Paul Harrison drew his child Charlie – is one of the best poses to capture and draw wiggly kids! And do you find your boys a continual source of inspiration or daunting to draw, as I wrote on my weblog?

    Maartje Jaquet yes, actually even in my mind i am always drawing what i see

    Linda Lee And putting it on paper for other people to see too! And you still have your boys at home to draw too! Great! I know you’ll keep drawing them as you seem to have pen and paper in your pocket!! Thanks for sharing! XX

  6. Paul Harrison Artist and Illustrator:
    This one is for Linda… Good suggestion
    I love trying to draw the way the boy sits when he is glued to something on tv or computer. Hard to believe I was that bendy once.
    Linda Lee: Thank you Paul! Can I share this beautiful sketch of Charlie to inspire other colleagues to share their experiences and work? Yes you have to get the kids in comfortable positions for a few minutes to give you time to get a few lines on the paper! This is a lovely natural ‘pose’!
    Is Charlie a source of inspiration to draw or do you find him daunting to capture on paper, as I did?
    Paul Harrison:
    Yeah, by all means share this one. You know I do love drawing Charlie but I never feel I capture him, hard as I try.

  7. enjoyed reading comments & looking at illustrations – thought they’d all captured something unique in a moment while child/children were unaware they were being observed.
    The look of total concentration on Charlie’s face with his legs in that position summed that special moment in time up –

    1. Yes You are right Esther! Sleeping or watching TV kids is THE perfect moment for busy, tired, creative parents to draw their children!
      On my Face Book page are many more drawings, contributed by colleagues, which I will also post here on my blog.
      I am also thinking of a follow up blog on this subject with more contributions from colleagues drawings of their children and art work.

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