You can either run from it or learn from it…

pencil portrait by holly holt
A little slice of history…Quite some time ago I used to draw a lot of pencil portraits, both of humans and animals. I hadn’t really done much drawing for a long time and then some colleagues and I started to draw pictures of each other during slow afternoons at work and it turned out that mine were a pretty good likeness. Once people got wind of the fact I could draw, I started to get a fair few requests for them and very quickly became thoroughly miserable. I was enlarging photos, sketching, tracing the sketch onto nicer paper, checking and double checking every last detail…it was mentally draining. It had to stop.
So here’s what I dislike about drawing portraits: Firstly, they take such a soul destroyingly long time. I used to spend hours painstakingly rendering every precise detail as best as I could until I wanted to cry. Secondly, I don’t get peoples fascination or love for them, I’d rather die than have a drawing of myself up on the wall. Thirdly, when done like this, although it is a skill in itself, it only ever felt like copying, there’s no room for error or scope for creative licence. And finally, I began to really dislike drawing in pencil. Everything about pencils started to annoy me, I didn’t like sharpening them every five minutes, I didn’t like how many different grades were needed just for one drawing and I could never get a dark enough shadow. 

pencil portrait little boy by holly holt
So I started doodling about with a biro and the rest is history. There’s many, many brilliant portrait artists and styles out there and I’m not discrediting their work (or their customers) in any way, it’s just not for me. I don’t regret doing them, they brought people happiness and quite often brought tears to their eyes which is a high accolade indeed and I might not have developed the style(s) I use today without them. I’m not exactly an overnight success and could probably have carried on and made a business out of them but it just felt wrong. It lacked creative integrity. But I wanted to share the story, thanks folks, I feel cleansed of the past now. 

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