Can’t Draw It If You Can’t See It

Posted by on Oct 3, 2017 in commissions, drawing | 2 Comments

“If you can’t see it, you can’t draw it”, is one of the regular things I say to my drawing students.

Along came an author, writing on local history, seeking someone to illustrate some pictures in his book. He wanted drawings because several of his photos are awful, and he wisely thought it better to have a good drawing than a poor photo.

My students and I have gotten a good laugh about my accepting this job. Portraiture is my least favorite subject. There are such subtle differences between faces, and if you can’t see it, you can’t draw it.

However, there is no one left who knows what Edythe Tate Thompson looked like, and this is the only known photograph of her. So, I did my best to make her look pleasant and human, although she may have been super-human. She was responsible for bringing the tuberculosis hospital to Springville, and responsible for getting Julia Morgan to design the first building.

I don’t think I captured an exact likeness. She looks happier to me in the drawing, more approachable. Maybe her face is a touch too wide, maybe her mouth is; I think I’ve put her eyebrows farther apart If you knew Edythe and have a photo of her, let me know.



  1. lclauney
    October 3, 2017

    You are so brave! Love it :-)! Leah

    • cabinart
      October 3, 2017

      Leah, I don’t know if this is bravery or if I am leaning into the fact that pencil erases and I can always return the customer’s money!