Family portrait: progression photos

This year for Christmas I decided to draw for my mum an amateur A1 size family portrait of her, myself and my sister. When I did Art A-level over 10 years ago, I drew portraits of my dad, grandma and late grandfather. My drawings were much more realistic and detailed then, when I was practising drawing on a regular basis, but my mum has always wanted me to draw her and her two daughters together… so with mum experiencing awful health difficulties at the moment, I figured what more a perfect time to (hopefully) make her overjoyed, than at Christmastime? So, here we are fellow bloggers; please see below progression photos (start to finish) of my latest family portrait. Hope you enjoy:

Family portrait:


My light box has decided it doesn’t want to work any more (stupid thing), so I stencilled the outline of all three subjects on A1 paper. I began by sketching my sister (left), I also thought it might look pretty to incorporate a lotus flower design border. (The subjects were drawn using artists’ sketching pencils, and the flower border charcoal pencils).


I then made a start on sketching my mum (middle subject). I wasn’t completely happy with the drawing of my mum at this stage. Her complexion was sketched a little too dark, and although quite detailed, mum didn’t appear as youthful as I knew she would like to be portrayed (too many wrinkles showing, haha)!


The last subject I sketched was myself (subject on the right of the drawing). I have drawn a few self-portraits in the past, so it didn’t take me as long to sketch myself. As you may be able to see in the photo above (bottom right photo), at this stage, the three subjects together did not quite ‘click’. My sister and myself stood out more than my mum in the middle, as I had sketched mum with more grey tones, but less definition.


So, the next task was to work on the portrait of mum. It was my intention to rubber out some of the shading, to tone down the shade of her complexion, whilst also using sketching pencils to darken some of her features, to make them ‘pop’ more. I tried to add more definition to her hair, lips, eyes etc.


Lastly, I subtlety sketched the background in light yellow, around each subject in a light blue, and around the lotus flowers in a light purple (these colours match the decor in our living room, where the drawing will be displayed, above our fireplace). I continued to improve all three subjects as I went along, finishing drawing the lotus flowers too; working from the left hand side of the paper to the right, as not to smudge.


And here is the final piece! It was framed by a local framing shop – a gorgeous dark brown frame and cream border – ready just in time for Christmas. Happy days 😛


I wrapped it up nicely with some beautiful festive Clinton’s Christmas wrapping paper, and blue ribbon…


And finally, here is my very beautifully festive, and extremely grateful and pleased mum opening her gift on Christmas day! 😀

Overall, the family portrait took me a total of quite a few weeks (many individual hours) to complete. It is rather difficult also to make adjustments to your subjects, on request – contoured cheekbones, larger lips, nice eyebrows, less wrinkles etc (I kept my double chin, haha) – and still keep at least some semblance to the people you are drawing,! This is obviously what I aimed to achieve in my family portrait, a likeness, as well as of course, putting a big smile on the face of a lady very special to me… my best friend, my mum 🙂

A very merry Christmas and a wonderful new year to you all!

Thank you for reading / viewing. Much love, Lauren x


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© 2017 Lauren Parr /


Amsterdam December 2017

Today I returned from a 4 night magical trip to Amsterdam, the Netherlands. We travelled overnight on Monday 18th December aboard P&O ferries (from Hull), enjoyed a two night stay at the 4* luxurious Novotel Hotel, before returning home on the ferry.

When we first arrived into the center of Amsterdam, I must admit I was a bit bewildered by it all. Centraal Station and its surroundings overwhelmed me; it appeared vast and chaotic. I felt like a little bittle fish in a very big pond. However, once I got my head around transportation, which tram to get here, which tram to go where etc, and gathered my bearings, I felt so much more at ease and could begin to enjoy all the beauty Amsterdam has to offer…

Tuesday 19th December  

Me and my mum went to Dam Square first of all. We took some pretty photos of the palace, the beautifully lit Christmas tree, and we were entertained by the amazing street performers. Afterwards, we walked to the infamous Red Light District. We went inside an Erotic Museum, as I thought it would be a good laugh, but mum wasn’t overly impressed, she was acting a bit of a prude bless her so we soon left, haha. In the evening we drifted along the canal on a special Amsterdam Light Festival canal cruise, capturing some lovely photographs of the fluorescent illuminated art. It was truly breathtaking.

Wednesday 20th December   

Wednesday we visited the Stedelijk Museum, and Van Gogh Museum at the Museum Quarter. Our intention was to also go to the Anne Frank Museum, but disappointingly no tickets could be purchased in the city; people book them online weeks in advance, and Thomas Cook travel agents didn’t make us aware of this when we booked the holiday, which was quite unfortunate for us. Nevertheless, we had a wonderful time at the other aforementioned museums. Stedelijk is contemporary and modern art, very much my cup of tea…and Van Gogh, it wasn’t even top of our list but wow, incredible! It was amazing getting up close to many of Van Gogh’s famous works and masterpieces. I feel inspired to practise painting with oils in my art studio!  Painting has never been my strong suit, but admiring Van Gogh’s paintings has really spurred me on to give it a good go. There was also a quaint Christmas market at Museum Quarter, and the pond across from the Rijksmuseum was transformed into a gorgeous ice skating rink for Winter! A wonderful winter-y atmosphere. Later that evening, we ate grub and drank cocktails at the fantastic Hard Rock cafe, playing great rock music and adorning rock memorabilia on all the walls, definitely my sort of place.

Thursday 21st December        

On our last day in Amsterdam before we embarked on our voyage back across the North Sea, we went to the ‘coolest’ bar in Amsterdam, Amsterdam Ice Bar! Here, we were given a token for a cocktail each in the welcome bar, a Heineken in the Ice Bar itself, and a delicious frothy hot chocolate on the way out. We were given a thermal coat and gloves in the Ice Bar, everything is made out of ice; the ceilings, walls, sculptures, even the drink glasses, so yes as expected it was bloody freezing in there, haha. Afterwards, we grabbed a cheeseburger from the many stalls and purchased a few souvenirs in the popular area of Rembrandtplein (Rembrandt Square).  

A couple of insights and musings on my trip…

  1. I have never seen so many bicycles! Reminded me of the Queen song ‘Bicycle Race’.. “I want to ride my bicycle, bicycle” haha. The dutch must be very fit and healthy, and it’s super great for the environment. All countries should adopt this environmentally friendly approach to transport, in my honest opinion.
  2. We smelt the strong aroma of marijuana from the many coffee shops throughout the city, but ours was definitely a cultural trip, as opposed to a drug trip lol
  3. All the dutch people we spoke to were so polite and friendly, especially the staff in our hotel, they couldn’t have made us feel more welcome 🙂

This city break deal was an early Christmas present from myself to my mum, as she really did deserve a nice little getaway for a few days. Life has been pretty stressful for her lately, so I’m just so pleased and over the moon that we have both had such a fabulous time in the Netherlands. I would definitely go again, it was truly spectacular. I will cherish the memories of our holiday together for a very long time.


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© 2017 Lauren Parr /