New-drawn Baby


Richard Bell's Wild West Yorkshire nature diary, Sunday, 7th October, 2007

A BIG FAMILY gathering and, although we haven’t got everyone here this afternoon, every chair and much of the floor-space is taken up with our guests, so I can’t get across the lounge to fetch my sketchbook from the studio. I take a ballpoint pen from a drawer, pick up a discarded letter and rest it on a magazine to sketch the latest addition to the clan; Harry, aged only two weeks.

Babies have such a rounded features. They’re far from identical but they haven’t developed the craggy, chiselled individuality that makes the ‘lived in’ faces of adults such a joy to draw.


It’s easy to be discouraged and to concede that you’re not going be able to catch that baby-faced delicacy, so all you can do, as with any other subject, is draw what is there in front of you and not make assumptions; for instance, you can see where I have greatly underestimated the size of the head in relation to the face in the main drawing on the left. The horizontal line going across the middle of Harry’s head is where I’d originally estimated where the back of his head would be. This would have given his head the proportions of a toddler instead of those of a new-born baby.


I tend to draw every new arrival to the family; it’s probably best to draw people before they’re old enough to say ‘I don’t really look like that, do I?’ but I have drawn Harry already, when I first met him on Friday.

That time I had my sketchbook and pocket watercolour box with me.