Thursday, November 29, 2012

The story of the package...clarity, background, plot revealed.

You asked for a little more “clarity” on the plot of my last post - the story of the package. you have it.

Back on October 28th I received an email from Matthew; a dear blogging friend who has been incredibly encouraging and supportive of the many adventures I share here on Pearson Report.

In his email he said he had a “massive ask” of me and wanted to know if I would draw a portrait, “something cute”, maybe a caricature, of his dear friend who was going through a very difficult time. He wanted to put a big smile on her face for her upcoming birthday.

Reading his email I was deeply touched, and as I said in my last post, it brought tears to my eyes. The young woman’s story is not mine to tell, suffice it to say my heart was profoundly moved and without hesitation I accepted Matthew’s request. 

My daughter is a designer at a major animation studio and when I called to ask if she would like to draw a caricature (cartoon version of the young woman) for Matthew she was delighted to be part of such a meaningful gesture.

Matthew sent me a few photos, and Courtney was told the young woman loved the characters from the Batman franchise to which Miss CP (as I affectionately call my daughter) decided on Bat Girl for the character she would draw.

Our drawing sessions became wonderful bonding moments where tears and laughter were shared, and the love of a common passion strengthened. 

We both came to understand that this project was bigger than what we were drawing and creating - it was about reaching out and helping others. (There really isn’t a better feeling.)

For Courtney, who draws for a living, this task, while still requiring time and patience, came second nature to her and watching her “do her thing” was truly magical.

Here are a few shots of Miss CP at her Cintiq...working on Bat Girl.

The finished caricature.

Me...on the other hand, well, I had my share of difficulties. 

To start, I have no formal portrait drawing skills under my belt and had only attempted one other portrait as practice for my Creative Drawing classes. It would be safe to say I felt like a fish out of water.

Add to that the four day period where I was overcome with fear and doubt about drawing hair. It was very difficult. Very. I managed to lay the base lines down, but how to fill in and darken them was much harder than I first imagined. 

There is a process to drawing hair which I did learn, albeit a little too close to the end. I was able to incorporate what I had learned and I am proud of my effort with the hair I drew, even if I could have had more knowledge and skills to help me.

With that, here are a few photos showing my progress through various stages.

The finished portrait.

Last was the shipping, a part that I had little experience with. It took some sleuthing to find out I needed to “finish” my pencil drawing with a fixative and then ship it flat, not rolled as one might do with painted canvas. Ah...the learning curve was steep!

When the package arrived, dear Matthew was so excited he wasn’t sure if he should open it or wait until November 23, the birthday of his sweet friend. I assured him he would figure it out.

A short while later, that same day, I received an email letting me know he did open it and had looked at the art...he was WOWED and his email totally rocked my world...Miss CP was equally tickled - we all could hardly wait until that Friday.

That’s when I wrote my teaser post - Just a few more days…

The birthday arrived and dear Matthew gave his gift...a gift he had been hesitant to ask for help in creating...and here it was for his special friend. 

When his next email came it was beyond words...I cannot begin to even do his words justice...they were so happy, so full of joy and gratitude - you could almost hear the spring in his step. Tears of happiness filled my eyes.

To help Matthew bring such joy to his friend, as she goes through this very difficult time, was the ultimate in happiness - this experience will be forever etched in my heart.

Dear Matthew - thank you for letting me be part of your gift.

Well...there you have it...the story of the package...unwrapped!

Since Matthew had given this story some exposure over at his place (which you really must visit, if you haven't already) it allowed for me to give you more of a first person perspective with a few more details.

Is the story clearer now? Any questions? There is going to be a quiz, you know!

A few fun facts:

Miss CP took 5 hours from start to finish to complete her digital art piece. This included her moleskine sketch, the rest done in Photoshop CS5.

I took 15 hours from start to finish, of which 4 hours was spent on the hair alone. Most of the drawing was done with a 4B pencil. I used 6/8/9B for the hair. Plus I made a mess of two kneading erasers! 
A hint of red colour was used on the lips.

There was an additional 5 hours for stuff like printing off the digital copy, running around getting mailing supplies and actually mailing the package.

Then...there was about 168 hours (7 days) spent stressing while waiting for the package to be delivered. Only then...could I breath in deeply and really feel the warmth of this adventure wash over me.

Cheers, Jenny


  1. Wow is right. Thank you for sharing your part of the story behind the gift.
    Both drawings are wonderful. She is a very lucky girl to have recieved such a stunning and personal gift

    1. Thank you. More than the recipient was lucky to receive this touched all four of us, and many others in the process.

  2. 15 hours of straight drawing Jenny, 15 hours... I knew it was to be a long drawn out project but I didn't expect you to be able to put in so much time for this, it means so much to me, it really does. Thank goodness my friend has been keeping her hair short recently or even more of your time would have went into this wonderful project. It's been such a treat to get to see the photos behind this process, how they started off and then became the wonderful and majestic pair of artwork which are in her bedroom very soon to be framed.

    I'll not forget the minute I opened the package and the minute that my dear friend opened it up, seeing her eyes well up with tears which she choked back and assured me were "happy tears," melted my heart and it's all due to you and your wonderful daughter. I'm going to be quiet here because honestly words from me cannot do this justice at all, I'm just really pleased that you were able to write up this timeline to help others understand our great story together. Thank you so much Jenny.

    1. Like you, Matthew, this leaves me struggling to find words...but as I said, this gift of yours touched all four of us, and so many other, that it has become a symbol of the hope and strength your dear friend (and now our dear friend) needs to get through this difficult time.

      Seems sharing is a good thing! Hugs.

  3. Hi Jenny and Matthew and Miss CP - what an amazing adventure ... and Jenny I can 'feel' the absolute pleasure in your writing voice telling us this story. Now Matthew and his great friend must be so chuffed with the result - the end results both look wonderful - what a great birthday present and as you say ... you all experienced so many emotions and will for ever and a day.

    Miss CP's art work is amazing .. I'd love to see more of her work - I so enjoyed her A-Zs .. but understand she's very busy and has a life too!!

    Your portraiture is just brilliant - you've captured Miss X to a T ... oh for such talent .. clever lady - long may you bask in that delight of success and for making others happy ... so pleased for you.

    Happy, happy, joy and love overflowing .. wonderful to read and what a Christmas story - fabulous .. thanks so much for sharing .. Hilary

    1. I love that word "chuffed" and it so aptly describes the feeling of all four of us. (tickled being my Canadian equivalent)

      Miss CP is quite gifted, and you know, Hilary, when I asked her to help me help Matthew help his friend she cleared time off her busy schedule and jumped right in. She told me doing this piece was one of the best things ever because of its make a young woman feel better and smile.

      As to my portraiture...I just love how it turned out (without that sounding vain or conceited) I was startled with the likeness and at times, given the muted quality of the photo I was working from, I found myself talking to the photo asking it for guidance - asking the young face looking up at me to help me draw her. I know that seems strange, but it was one of the things I enjoyed, that feeling of true connection to the piece I was drawing.

      Hilary, thank you for "feeling" my pleasure. Writing this post was done with tissue at my side, as tears of happiness, laced with sorrow, flowed freely. Hugs to you for coming by and leaving such a beautiful comment.

  4. Absolutely fabulous. What a beautiful gesture. If more people reached out and helped someone during a difficult time...imagine how much more wonderful this planet would be.

    1. Too true, Em-Musing, my little part of the planet has been profoundly altered because of this experience.

      My dear godmother once told me that when we give of ourself we give to ourself. The giving of a smile to Matthew, which he then gave to his dear friend, which then found its was back to me was the best gift of all.

  5. your portrait is actually much better than your daughter's caricature (which is also nice), Jenny... you're very talented.

    1. Miss CP's piece is so different it's hard to make a comparison, but, dear sweet Dezzie, it is so kind of you to single mine out as "your particular favourite". (a favourite quote from Pride and Prejudice) :)

      Truth be told I was lucky to have a few of those fifteen hours over at Miss CP's place to build my confidence as I lay pencil to paper. She is a brilliant teacher...missed her calling, although it may still come to that down the road.

  6. Replies
    1. Thank you Claudia, for stopping by. :)

  7. What a wonderful and inspiring sequence of events Jenny! Your drawing truly is amazing and your daughter's work so fun and looks just like her! Big huge happy hug!!!

    1. Thank you, Lisa. I felt, in light of your questions, and a few others wanting a little more insight and background, I figured sharing this amazing story in more detail and from a first person perspective would be the right thing.

      Seems like sharing it has given even more joy and's quite infectious this happiness thing, isn't it? There is something about seeing someone else light up that in turn lights us up - that's how this has been for me.

      I left the following reply to an earlier comment and I'd like to share it with you:

      "My dear godmother once told me that when we give of ourself we give to ourself. The giving of a smile to Matthew, which he then gave to his dear friend, which then found its was back to me was the best gift of all."

      Thank you for dropping in and being part of this incredible journey. Hugs back to you!

  8. You climbed that learning curve pretty quickly in my estimation. The hair looks perfect to me. It's in the eyes, the smile and the tilt of the head that you captured this young girls spirit. And your daughters version is smashing.

    This has been a great introduction to your blog and I'm so glad that Matthew decided to share the story of the "mystery" package.

    1. Thank you, Anne. In the end, as I said in this post, I am proud of my hair drawing effort. That said, there really is a process of building up the depth and defining the strands...quite fascinating, to which end I am in practice mode to hone my skills. (one never knows when the next portrait will appear) :)

      I imagine it's like the detailed painting of your tiny figurines...skill is what sets you apart and the only thing that builds skill is practice. (something that is evident in your art)

      I'm please you've found your way here and that our common connection is Matthew, a young man with a very big heart. :)

  9. This is like a beautiful early Christmas story, where you've helped someone else spread cheer. This is definitely what I would call a Kindness project. Friends like Matthew are hard to find. I'm sure he and the female friend will never forget you or your daughter.

    Interesting seeing your daughter at work creating. Excellent portrait by you, (I said that before). I drew a portrait of hubs years ago, straight pencil using a a black and white photograph. He'd never be still long enough, otherwise.

    Thanks for wrapping up those loose ends, Jenny.

    1. I do hope loose ends have been wrapped! :) Or in this case I guess I unwrapped the package for an early Christmas treat. There is something about sharing a story like this, at this time of year, that reconnects us to what its really all about.

      As I wrote in an earlier reply:

      "My dear godmother once told me that when we give of ourself we give to ourself. The giving of a smile to Matthew, which he then gave to his dear friend, which then found its was back to me was the best gift of all."

      I gave a link to Miss CP's site; on Tues. and Thurs. she can be found LiveStreaming on her Cintiq should you find yourself curious and want to take a peek.

      Do you still do much portrait work? Or drawing in general? I have not done a portrait of an actual person sitting and posing...must be difficult.

      Thanks for stopping by D.G. :)

  10. Whew ... I am happy for you that you caused so much happiness and had fun yourself : ) There can't be greater bliss than shared bliss. (Moreover, you shared those magnificient results with us.)

    For me an interesting detail of your drawing process is that you obviously did not trace the outlines from the photo but only with your eyes ...

    The next fascinating thing to learn would be how this Cintiq roughly works ... surely there is a tutorial somewhere in the Internet's depths.

    1. Hi Martin, thanks for coming back to read the "plot revealed" - I'm glad you did. It seem you were not the only one wanting a few more details.

      What I did, before starting in on my actual drawing was to give myself reference points for the eyes, nose and mouth. Not having a light table, I used my living room lamp and held the photo under my paper up to the light and lightly marked those spots. However, as helpful as I thought it was I really didn't get the benefit I was hoping for.

      In Week 7, of my Creative Drawing class I learned about the "eye width measurement" calculation and how to use the placement of the eyes as a reference point for all the other features. The face I did in that post is done only by this method.

      Since this was only my second attempt at portrait drawing I really did not know how to begin let alone how to progress...and the hair, well that's worthy of a post by itself. Very, very difficult.

      As to how the Cintiq works, the best way to explain it is that it is a drawing surface that needs a pen (stylus) which is part of the computer program and as it touches the screen it draws an image. So it really is like an electronic sketch pad. It's the massive Photoshop program that renders the artwork to Courtney's liking - where she adds shadows, colour, background texture etc.

      On Tues. and Thurs. evenings Courtney is online at her LiveStream site where you can watch her doing her work live.
      When you click on the link I've provided you will need to scroll down to the bottom of that page and on the left hand site is the link to her LiveStream account. You do not have to sign in or anything, you can just go there on the times listed and see her work. It's pretty cool.

      I hope that helps clarify a few things, Martin - thank you for you kind comments and support of my artistic endeavours. :)

    2. Thank you so much for your detailed explanation : ) I will try to catch her live and look over her shoulder.

  11. it was a beautiful story and I was so happy to see you and your daughter able to help Matthew out he is an amazing young man who has faced a lot himself. what a wonderful journey you all took together and thank you for sharing it with me . XOXOX

    1. Thank you Becca. You always leave such beautiful comments - you are quite a special person too, just like Matthew.

      I'm glad you've been able to take this journey with my daughter and me, and Matthew and his dear friend - I think this story has touched more than the four of us... Hugs to you.

  12. Wow! So talented - you and your daughter. And such a lovely thing to do for someone else. :-)

    1. While it seems Courtney and I did something lovely the really lovely part was what was done for us...we got so much out of this experience...truly meaningful.

      Thanks for dropping by Ermie. :)

  13. It is beautiful Jenny and even prettier is the thought and caring behind it. From both of you. I find myself inspired to make a difference for someone. Thank you for being the person you are. It makes all of us better.

    1. Dear Bushman, I am deeply touched by your comment. I know this touches a soft spot in your world. You have inspired me as I know you have inspired many others, both on and off blog; you have truly weathered more than most.
      Hugs to you and thanks so much for stopping by.

  14. Anonymous3:40 pm

    I can't even describe the feeling I have inside me right now, Jenny. Is it weird to hold pride for someone I don't even know? I am truly proud of how far your skills in drawing have come. Aside from that...WOW doesn't even come close! You and your daughter have done so much for Matthew and his friend. It's inspiring and it's rewarding at the same time. I know and understand that feeling of paying it forward. Go You!!

    1. Elsie, I'm the one at a loss for words over your kind comment. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

      In an earlier reply of mine I wrote this:

      "My dear godmother once told me that when we give of ourself we give to ourself. The giving of a smile to Matthew, which he then gave to his dear friend, which then found its way back to me was the best gift of all."

      Thank for stopping by and leaving this amazing comment. Hugs to you. :)

    2. Anonymous7:24 am

      I love that - it sums it up perfectly!

  15. Jenny, I am truely impressed!! with your gesture and with your drawing skills!! you did an amazing job with the portrait! and your daughter...well...just beautiful work!! sooo cool.
    A mother-daughter art team! I love it!!

    1. Thank you, Joanna, for your kind words. I had the most amazing experience drawing this young woman's face. Given it was my second attempt at drawing a portrait I had many hurdles and lots of doubts, but I persevered and in the end I am extremely happy with it.

      My daughter was quite the help for me, motivating me and encouraging me along...our evenings together, working on our pieces, was some of the best time I've had with her in years...a real bond was forged with art being our common passion. I hope to have the pleasure of working with her again....and yes, her work is cool!

      Thanks for stopping by and taking a look, it means a lot to me to see you here. Hugs xo

  16. I am totally blown away by this whole story. I followed Matthew because of what he has said here and what you have said as well. You and your daughter put together the most wonderful gift and it has inspired me to do some good for people in my life. :)

    1. Melissa, thanks for these very kind words. I saw that you followed Matthew, you will find he is a good writer and while dealing with some downs he always maintains an up attitude. I look forward to watching him grow into one heck of an amazing man. (not that's he's not a man already, but you get my drift!) Time does play a role in shaping us, doesn't it?

      Seems a lot of folks felt the desire to "do some good" for others and that puts the hugest smile on my about paying it forward. Truth is Mel, Courtney and I really got "the gift" too...seems all four of us, in this project, have been given a gift, and I guess by extension so have all Matthew and my followers by taking the time to read our posts.

      I'm in the process of doing another special project...this is of my own doing, not asked, but I hope it hits its mark too! I'm loving portrait drawing...but there is lots to learn!

      Thanks so much for dropping in Mel, I know you are really busy with deadlines so this is extra sweet of you. Super big hugs...and good luck with those deadlines. :)

  17. Holly bean bags, Batman. You're really, really good.


Thanks for sharing your thoughts.