Try, Try Again

February 20, 2023

I watch the British Police drama “Vera.” (In the US you can see it on PBS, but awhile back I started watching it on Britbox and think the episodes come in a bit earlier.) 

I watch it because I’m totally in love with Brenda Blethyn. She’s so amazing. But as I’ve already discussed on my blog, I don’t sketch women much. My style ages them. 

But when I’ve been watching “Vera” I have tried, since his first appearance in 2015, to sketch “DS Aiden Healy” Vera’s assistant, played by Kenny Doughty.

The problem with Doughty is that his features are too symmetrical. The proportions are too even. That’s really a task for me to do justice to on paper. I like a character actor any day. 

But after all the episodes of trying, the other day, just as I was finishing a handmade sketchbook with the Old Gutenberg paper for pages, I did this sketch of “Aiden” and it actually is starting to look like Doughty! Maybe it was doable because he’s got the scruffy beard going on these days?

Of course I’ve really aged him. But I figure in about 10 years he’ll look exactly like this.

It’s great fun to keep at something. It’s how we get to the perfect crumb in a loaf of bread, or the perfect brownie, or a tautly bound easily opened book, or a likeness.

We keep at it and eventually it happens. And all the while, if we remember to breathe, we enjoy each step of the journey, and the fun and learning, awareness and joy, it brings us.


And enjoy your process.



    • Tina Koyama
    • February 20, 2023

    Hi Roz! Since I know you enjoy portraiture, I’d like your thoughts on this: Ever since Inktober last year (so almost daily for almost 5 months), I’ve been making portraits based on Earthsworld’s photos. I had never seriously practiced portraiture before October. Initially my goal was to improve resemblance, but because I knew I could always eventually get to a good likeness if I took enough time, a secondary goal was to spend no more than about 15-30 minutes each. Now that I’ve made about 150, I can see definite improvements in resemblance, but now my goal is to be a little looser and fresher and not so “tight.” When I’m “tight,” I have a better chance of getting a likeness, but as soon as I become more expressive, it’s at the expense of resemblance. If you want to see what I’m doing, here’s a Flickr album where I’m putting all the portraits: Of course, I don’t show the reference photos, so you won’t be able to see whether I achieved a good resemblance, but I suppose that’s not important for this discussion. Here’s what I’m really getting at:

    It bothers me that I am so hung up about likeness — I know it’s not the most important thing about portraiture — but I can’t seem to let it go. I feel like if I don’t at least try for resemblance, then I might as well be drawing faces from imagination. Any advice or thoughts on this?

    1. Reply

      Tina, sorry I couldn’t respond to this quickly, too much juggling here. But I was looking at my post for today over the weekend and I rewrote it to address your questions. I hope it’s of some interest to you, and I think the overall issues I addressed will be helpful for others who aren’t as steady in their drawing practice as you are.

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