Second "blind" "forensic" Berstein sketch by Joana Miranda

I was away from home these past two weeks playing with the New York City Ballet up in Saratoga, NY.  With 3 rehearsals and seven shows per week, there was not a whole lot of time for sketching or cartooning.  Being in a hotel and having maid service and the chance to watch late night TV in bed was a nice perk, though.  In addition to lots of Food Network shows, my husband and I watched quite a few episodes of Forensic Files.  The latter got me thinking about what it takes to be a forensic artist, and if it is something I would ever be interested in doing (or could do.)  After digging a little online, I was surprised to learn that there are only about 30 full-time forensic artists working in the US.  The field is obviously tiny and highly specialized.  According to this article, becoming a forensic artist is usually somewhat of a round-about process which almost always involves working for law enforcement in a different capacity.  I was also intrigued to read about Lois Gibson, one of the most famous and successful forensic artists in the business today.  The importance of having people skills – forensic artists need to be highly empathetic listeners – combined with having artistic know-how would certainly be an interesting challenge.

For fun (and since I only did ONE cartoon sketch last week, tsk tsk), I asked my husband if he would participate in an experiment with me.  I asked him to think of someone, take a quick look at a picture of them, and then describe their face to me from memory.  I did all of the questioning and tried not to ask leading questions (i.e. instead of “Were their eyes brown?”, I asked “Do you recall the color of their eyes?”)

My first sketch (done in pen since that’s what I usually use for my quick sketches) resulted in this image:

My husband then told me that the nose was too high, the jaw-line should be thinner, the hairline lower and the hair “more wild.”  The second “blind” sketch resulted in this:

After he told me that he had been thinking of Leonard Berstein, we checked my sketch against photos of Berstein.  I think there is a bit of a likeness.  For sure, the exercise was thought-provoking and fun all around!


  1. Maureen Gallagher says:

    Yes I thought of Bernstein before I read it!! Success.


    • Joana says:

      Ooh, that’s good to hear! It was a fun experiment – definitely worth another go at some point. 🙂 Looking forward to seeing you soon (tomorrow evening?) Joana

  2. Allen says:

    Very well done! I can see the resemblance very easily. Maybe another career????

    • Joana says:

      Hi Allen,

      Thanks! It’s fun to fantasize about different careers, though I always seem to pick the ones that are super competitive. Learning that there are only 30 full-time forensic artists in the USA makes the life of a musician seem as competitive as flipping burgers at MacDonald’s. Sigh.

      Hope to see you again sometime soon. 🙂


    • Joana says:

      Yah, I agree about the eyes. But Andy described the eyes as having “almost feminine lashes”, so that’s why I went in that direction. (In other words, it’s his fault! Hee-hee!)

      It’s hot in the Big Apple – going to be even more steamy in the next few days – but I’ll be mostly indoors rehearsing and performing. I’m playing Principal for the Lincoln Center Music Festival over the next two weeks. The Paris Opera Ballet, Bolshoi Ballet and New York City Ballet are all performing as part of the festival. I’m looking forward to the festival, but I’m also looking forward to FINALLY getting a breather in two weeks.

      XOX – Joana

      On Tue, Jul 18, 2017 at 2:09 PM, JOANA MIRANDA STUDIO wrote:


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