My Maternal Grandmother’s Portait


This is a based off of an old black-and-white photograph of my mother’s mother from World War II. She would have been about 23 here, just three years a newlywed. It’s one of two glamor shots that she sent to Grandpa when he was in the Air Force.

The techniques that I used were basically what I had learned in class this past semester. I used a gradient mesh for her face, a lot of gaussian blur (and especially for the shadow on her neck and shoulder, for the border of her hair, and the shadows between her eyes and her eyebrows), and I used the rotate tool to give her eyes a more realistic quality. I did this picture in Illustrator and it was difficult to translate it from black-and-white to a color portrait, so I hope that I’ve done her justice! For comparison:

The Original Photo

And so close to Christmas! The Christmas song “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” always upset her until Grandpa was safely home from the war.

I’ve toyed around with the idea of a portrait of Grandpa from the same time period. It only seems just, because they were such an attractive couple. Mom always thought that Grandma looked like Katherine Hepburn, especially in how she carried herself. And Grandpa could have been a matinee idol. But they were just an ordinary couple who enjoyed 68 years of marriage, survived raising three children with raging ADD, and ended up running their local bakery for over two decades. Their story has long fascinated me. I only knew them in their later years and I wish so much that I had asked them more about their experiences; they were my age, once, and I can only imagine what they thought with all that they saw and endured in life. It makes me wonder what I could have learned.

I love and miss you, Grandma.

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