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Art, Challenges, Drawing a Painting

Take 4 of 13 – Girl With a Pearl Earring, Vermeer


This was absolutely the most challenging drawing I’ve had to do yet, and God knows how much more challenging it’s going to get with the remaining paintings. It is also my least favourite. I could not bring myself to like it. I feel like it is a total letdown when compared with the original.

It took me days just to get a decent enough outline of the drawing. Once I had the first draft in front of me, I couldn’t bear to look at her face. In my opinion, it looked nothing like the face of the girl in the Johannes Vermeer’s painting. The girl looking back at me from my drawing was not the same girl looking back at me from his painting. Where was the mystery, intrigue and enigma in her gaze? How do I get those qualities to show in my drawing?

It took me a few more days to get her features into what resembled a human form. Once I was finally able to get them into a shape that I was mildly content with, I decided to leave it at that. I was not going to risk redoing them only to spoil the whole picture. So I left the drawing lying around for another couple of days to take my mind off it. In that time, while doing a bit of research, I happened to find images of the film adaptation Girl With a Pearl Earring. While browsing through these photos, I found their interpretation of the actual painting using Scarlett Johansson to portray the girl. That was somewhat of an eyeopener for me. Their interpretation, although fabulous, was not true to the original either. It did not match every last detail. Most importantly, to me at least, was the expression on her face. Scarlett Johansson, with her flamboyant beauty and sex appeal, could have never pulled off the understated expression of the girl with the pearl earring. Scarlett’s features are so gorgeously accentuated that it would be difficult to match the softness and gentleness of the girl’s gaze. Also, the way I see it, Scarlett looks more confused, disoriented even, than mysterious or enigmatic. All of that being said, both the original and the film adaptation were beautiful.

That made me feel better about my interpretation of her features, which make her look…well, happy. Yes. My girl with a pearl earring is happy! She’s pleased about something, and she won’t tell you what it is. She’s a mischievous little thing, and I’ve come to accept that about her.

So I moved on to different parts of the painting, hoping that when it all comes together it will start to look better. Once the overall outline was complete and I traced over it to darken the lines, I began applying a major dose of shading to the drawing. What with the colours used in the original, it was never going to look even half decent if I didn’t start employing shading techniques. I’m not very good at shading, and it is something that I usually avoid when I draw, because I always end up making a mess of the image rather than giving it that arresting appeal. But with this one, I had to take my chances, because every part of the painting needed shading to give it the right kind of outline to the contours of her face and texture to the fabric on her head and her clothes.

That done, I had one last task at hand: the black background. Oh Lord, was that a challenge in and of itself. I destroyed eight HB 2 pencils in the process of creating that pitch black background. My sister suggested I leave it without it, but I couldn’t do that. That background emphasizes the drawing and all the shading more than a white plain background would. (On that note, my right hand is not very happy with me today.)

The outline of the painting

The outline of the painting

Almost there, but not quite. My hand needed a break.

Almost there, but not quite. My hand needed a break.

The final product. Pencil drawing of Girl With a Pearl Earring, Johannes Vermeer by yours truly.

The final product. Pencil drawing of Girl With a Pearl Earring, Johannes Vermeer by yours truly.

When the drawing was finally completed, my sister looked at it and said that she loved it, because I made it mine and gave the girl with a pearl earring a Disney princess quality to it.

Not gonna lie, I was quite pleased to hear that.


About smshamma

"I'm selfish, impatient and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I am out of control, and at times hard to handle, but if you can't handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don't deserve me at my best." - Marilyn Monroe


11 thoughts on “Take 4 of 13 – Girl With a Pearl Earring, Vermeer

  1. It’s absolutely beautiful! GREAT JOB!

    Posted by farahshamma | April 20, 2013, 13:04
  2. A friend from the Bahamas sends her appreciation your way:

    “She has done a really really great job! If she added color it would look stunningly like the original. Please tell her that she should keep up the beautiful job and no matter how hard the work to trust her artistic instincts! She’s got a gifted touch and I just wish I could draw like that … sadly i can only do anime characters.” – Nomiki Tsakkos, from Bahamas

    Posted by Ballad | April 20, 2013, 15:52
  3. ummmm… I’ve just seen this challenge thing.. one word: WOW! ok more… great freakin’ job! and totally agree with your Bahamas fan! xox

    Posted by Dona | April 20, 2013, 16:02
    • Haha thank you Dona my love!! I’m glad you liked it. I definitely consider you to be a better judge at this than I am, so that makes me feel heaps better :)

      Posted by smshamma | April 20, 2013, 16:08
  4. it’s awesome! great job <3

    Posted by Noor Shamma | April 20, 2013, 16:26
  5. Really great job. Well done :)

    Posted by Pete Denton | May 4, 2013, 14:24
  6. Nice , and inspirational words allocated by you . Great job really inspired by your words . Would to read the next , my wishes to you all the best

    Posted by mahmoud sakr | June 25, 2013, 00:53
  7. Like everyone said, incredible work.

    This is what we call “Inborn”.

    Posted by VJ | July 27, 2013, 14:53

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