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Best Books to Learn to Draw Realistic Portraits

Remember when I posted a few weeks ago about the project Judah and Tilly were busily engaged in?

Well, they were working on learning to draw realistic portraits using some new books and art supplies (I’ll get to those in a minute).

For a bit of perspective, here’s a drawing/painting Tilly did earlier this year. She was rightfully proud of this piece of artwork and chose to save it in her portfolio.

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Now look at what she’s producing:

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Here is a drawing she did last week:

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Here are two portraits done by Judah:

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Here is a picture done by Adalia earlier this year:

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And here are some of her practice drawings:

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And, it’s not just for the older crew. Remember when I asked who could guess the artist who created this picture?

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It was five year old Hezekiah.

Here’s an eye he was working one from on of our books:

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Not too shabby for a kindergartener.

So, what’s our big secret? Did I send the children to a fancy-smancy art school in Paris? Did I hire a private tutor? Did I get new children? No. We just bought some awesome art books and the proper (and inexpensive) art supplies.

Resources to Teach Drawing

Lifelike Drawing with Lee Hammond

Draw Real People! 

How to draw Lifelike Portraits from Photographs.

These are hot objects in our house these days.

And as for art supplies, we purchased (as the books recommend) : HB 2 Pencils, blending tortillions  kneaded eraser and art gum erasers.

Now keep in mind, my children have been working through the lessons in these books for less than a month. I can’t wait to see what they are producing a year from now!


  1. Michelle

    Oh, my goodness! I actually gasped when I went from the first drawing to the second! Absolutely fabulous drawings.
    I have been wringing my hands as to what to do with my kids for art. Your list of books has been duly noted. Thanks.
    We love your blog and your family!

  2. Delia

    I would love to get them entered in the fair for you, but art requires frames with glass – I have gotten these from Goodwill & Value Village in the past to frame up my kids’ art to enter. These are really fantastic pieces!

  3. Barbara

    Inspiring! My mother used to draw before she had us children, but she let her talent die away in exchange for being a wife/
    mother, taking care of her home, and the farm. I think you may have just given me an idea for a wonderful Mother’s Day gift for her. Thanks-A-Million. And please tell your children for me to keep practicing. Who knows maybe one of them will be commissioned next. I’m always looking for a good budding artist to do something amazing with pictures of my children. I have paid to have pencil drawings of each of my girls tiny infant hands grasping onto their daddy’s hand. What memories and well worth the price.

  4. Emily Weaver Brown

    these are so neat Renee. I can’t wait until Simon is old enough to do art like this. What are your youngest kids doing? I’m just curious as I am always looking for ideas to inspire my 2 year old.

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