Details make the difference -- Artist faces realism in portraits

Jessica Munroe prefers to drawing realistic portraits as she hones her artistic skills. RANDY VANDERVEEN

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For Jessica Munroe, a budding artist in Grande Prairie, people’s faces are her favourite subject.

Munroe, who graduated from Charles Spencer last spring, said COVID-19 played a part in moving her art forward.

“I basically was, and still am, sitting at home,” Munroe said. “I started drawing more and crocheting and (doing some) embroidery and things like that. I like drawing people, portraits of people. If the reference photo is not good to start with, I like to see how I progressed. (Sometimes) it is so hard to see details, like the eyes, if the picture is dark. I just love to see how it turns out and how it progressed. I struggled at first but like to see how far I have come with it.”

Munroe is mainly inspired by replicating photos in pencil and enjoys working with the details in people’s faces because it shows life and character, though it can be difficult at times.

“The most challenging (thing) when drawing is getting all of the fine details and highlighting,” Munroe said, adding she is working on getting more detailed in her work as details tend to give character to the face.

“I am trying to be more of a hyper-realistic artist, so I draw things more realistic(ally),” Munroe said. “I am not quite there yet, but I am trying. (People) would look different if I drew it without wrinkles (and lines).”

The recent high-school graduate has enjoyed drawing since she was young. She thinks perhaps she was drawn to it because her older brother Huntley, who still lives in Jamaica, enjoyed drawing so much when he was in school.

She added her brother doesn’t draw much anymore.

“He is older now and has work, and he doesn’t find time to draw,” Munroe.

Munroe said she admires the work of other hyper-realistic artists.

“In Grade 12, our teacher (said) we had to choose the form of art that we preferred to do,” Munroe said. “So I chose this artist by the name of Dirk Vzimirsky. His work is very realistic. He takes photos and then he draws them.”

She explained Vzimirsky uses grids to make sure all the elements of his drawings line up.

“He works by every section of the grid,” Munroe said. “Sometimes you can’t tell if it is actually a drawing or a photo.”

The portraitist said pencils are her preferred medium.

“I’ve just had all this practice with a pencil, that is all I’ve seen used,” Munroe said.

The young artist added she tried charcoal in Grade 10 in Jamaica but really didn’t know how to use it properly but perhaps will try in the future.

When asked if she likes using paint instead of pencils, her reaction towards using paint as a medium was muted.

“I don’t paint a lot,” Munroe said. “I prefer drawing. For me, painting is much harder. I find it quite hard to blend the paint. For me, shading is not easy, but I find it easier (than blending paint).”

While people are her favourite subject, she said she would like to try her hand at some other subjects in the future.

“I have drawn an animal in Jamaica, just one, it was a snake, and I used coloured pencils,” Munroe said. “I think I would like to try drawing animals.

While Munroe wants to continue her artwork, she doesn’t want to pursue a full-time career as an artist or illustrator.

“Right now, I am home and still like to draw,” she said. “As for the future, I still want to enjoy it as a side-business (but eventually) I would like to be a flight attendant.”

Anyone interested in seeing Munroe’s drawings, or some of the other crafts she has created recently, can check out her Instagram pages _artwithsara_ or saras_cosmos.