Pencil Portraits

Drawing portraits of people is a favorite pastime of mine. As a child, I was always fascinated by the eyes of everyone. It still amazes me how an expression can be seen in the eyes. During Covid we all had to get creative with how we expressed our facial patterns to show mood due to wearing masks. I found comfort once again in the eyes and their ability to show someone’s soul. This is where I start on a painting for a single person. If there is more than one subject matter in the photograph I am requested to draw, then I start with the shapes of the face. I used to just go for it without blocking in the space, but with drawings I take a different approach. Since the medium is already in pencil, I see no reason to not draw shapes and get an idea of where everything will go compositionally. Yes, drawing one person in a space is far less challenging than adding more into the same space, however, I love challenges.

My beautiful neighbor commissioned me to draw this lovely picture of her and her grandmother. This woman means the world to my friend and I wanted to show the light of their spirits shining through the images. I focused on layering and leaving white to emphasize highlights. The hair is always a special treat for me because the tiny details enthrall my mind. I absolutely love the details of the hair and the shirts they are both wearing. Their smiles and lines in their expression were also very important to the feeling I was trying to represent. This drawing was meant to rekindle happy memories and spark joy anytime it is looked upon. The client was very pleased with this representation of her loved one. Always a joy to have amazing feedback of love from people I create portraits for.

The next portrait is of my niece and was supposed to be a reference piece for a larger painting I am creating. This drawing took on a life of its own and created a light in the subject. I love how the drawing changed the composition of the painting and how the drawing is its own entity. When I look at the drawing and the painting side by side I can see all the differences in each. No two artworks by me are the same no matter how similar they may look. I take great care in giving each original piece something special. The drawing of my niece is one of my favorites that I have ever created and it will stay in my private collection for all time. I do love black and white or grayscale drawings of people or animals. They are fun, and imagining the colors that may be there captivates my senses. Thank you for reading and have a great weekend! Please contact me if you are interested in a portrait.

-Karen Hilliard