Artist Lis Zadravec creates beautiful renderings of literary heroines using colored pencils. To see more of her narrative portraiture, please visit her website.
In life, who we become is a formula of potential against adversity. It is my life story. It is yours. It is my fascination.
In my narrative portraits, it is what someone looked like as a child, before the moment you knew the story or at a place of decision. I call them my Girl Heroes because becoming the woman I was meant to be against all odds is the story I know best.
Telling it through literary or historic figures, I show what is heroic in us. My models themselves have stories to tell. So it is not only what would Beatrix Potter have looked like as a child, if she could come to life and reminisce, but the model has the wizened look of a girl who already knows much, perhaps because of her own health struggles.
My selkie is discovering to which land she belongs as a metaphor for a young woman of color coming of age in the climate of today.
In another a girl is leaving childhood behind, like Fern forgetting about Wilbur in Charlotte’s Web.
And then there are my lighthouse girls, not only a strange profession, but a desolate place for a young girl of yesterdays. No wonder they hopped in boats and became the Grace Darling and Ida Lewis heroines they were.
It could be my writer family genes or maybe my Washington, DC upbringing that impels me to approach my artwork like a writer creating characters.
Capturing moments in a style inspired by the great illustrations and artwork in books many of us pored over as children. Juxtaposing old with new, I render them realistically but in the modern century media of colored pencils.
I believe there is nothing that this pigment in its precision pointed stick, can’t do or that oil paint could do better. My competitive nature is out to prove that. I am not particular though. I will mix media, add ink, gouache, graphite. The end is more important than the means.
I still approach my work like a painter. Layering in the old-school oil painterly way. Never striving for photorealism, I love to see the artist’s hand in work. Like that perfect, genius brushstroke, you will see all of my pencil marks, if possible. I want to inspire. Not only with what a media can do, but what a person can do.
Artist Lis Zadravec invites you to follow her on Facebook.