Featured Artist Carolyn Hancock

Artist Carolyn Hancock’s deeply expressive images define contemporary realism in portraiture. Learn more about this artist by visiting her website.


Pastel portrait inspired by Elizabeth Taylor of a woman crying by Carolyn Hancock

“Our Song” (Inspired by Elizabeth Taylor) Pastel, 12” x 12”


Portraits and pastel—I loved both from the beginning. The face tells so much; it’s like a history book of life, and it all plays out in the eyes. Pastel, with its rich colors and creamy texture, gives me the perfect medium to paint life into those eyes and faces.


Pastel portrait inspired by Frida Kahlo of a woman with flowers in her hair by Carolyn Hancock

“Illusions of Frida” (Inspired by Frida Kahlo) Pastel, 16” x 12”


My ongoing portrait series, The Women, paints the emotions of women. The portraits give a visual voice to the strength underneath the beauty. Forceful, defiant, seductive, intense—some paintings were inspired by legendary women like Frida Kahlo and Coco Chanel, while others create a story of an era.


Pastel portrait inspired by Frida Kahlo of a dark haired woman lost in thought by Carolyn Hancock

“Waiting for Diego” (Inspired by Frida Kahlo) Pastel, 18” x 24”


Successful in two Texas gallery exhibitions, I want The Women to be a touring exhibition. It has perfect timing, landing right in the middle of a time when museums, galleries and collectors once again love realism and portraiture!


Pastel portrait of a dark-haired woman by Carolyn Hancock

“Silence of Prayer” (The model, as herself) Pastel, 12” x 16”


Unique to The Women, all portraits are modeled by one woman. With vintage dresses, voluptuous furs, extraordinary makeup and hair, she presents differently in each portrait.


Pastel portrait inspired by the Elizabethan era of a woman in period dress by Carolyn Hancock

“No Voice” (Representing the Elizabethan Era) Pastel, 18” X 24”


Each painting needed a different technique to tell its story, so I explored what I could do with pastel. I found that a kneaded eraser pressed into pastel creates negative shapes for lace, stencils make wallpaper effects, and glitter glue actually sticks to pastel!


Artist Carolyn Hancock with "Tango" a pastel painting in process

Artist Carolyn Hancock with “Tango,” a work in progress


My art journey began with the drawing principle of “where is this in relation to that,” then Daniel Greene videos taught me portraiture and pastel. Lots of pause and rewind during that time!


Pastel portrait inspired by Coco Chanel of a woman with a cigarette by Carolyn Hancock

“This Meeting is Over, Boys” (Inspired by Coco Chanel) Pastel, 18” x 24”


I traveled to countries of different cultures, landscapes and architecture. Bazaars with the aromas of coffee, perfume and spices. Gold souks. Finely woven rug designs. Always, my camera turned to the people—candid photos, fleeting moments. Sometimes I felt I had intruded, but when the pastel stroked across the paper, I was ever so glad to have witnessed a unique moment in a stranger’s life.


Pastel portrait inspired by Lupe Velez of vamp in furs by Carolyn Hancock

“The Vamp” (Inspired by the Mexican Spitfire, Lupe Velez) Pastel, 12” x 16”


I learned something big. Despite the different facial structures and clothing, eyes were the same. They told a life story through emotions.


Pastel portrait inspired by Frida Kahlo of a woman by Carolyn Hancock

“Where Were You Last Night” (Inspired by Frida Kahlo) Pastel, 12” x 16”


Value and neutrals give foundation to a painting, but color! It makes you want to step into a painting and see what’s going on. Traveling to other countries opened my eyes to the brilliance of color. The vibrant blues and turquoise of mosaics and domes, the African siennas and the rich golden shades of the Japanese kimono continue to influence my color choices.


Pastel drawing of a young girl swimming with a horse by Carolyn Hancock

“The Power of…” Pastel, 16” x 12”


As I work primarily from photos, sometimes a particular photo stops me and says do something special. In “The Power of” the intensity of the model’s eyes needed supporting elements just as powerful. I decided to interweave the force of Gulf Coast waters and wind, and the model’s love of horses—all expressive and personal. This is my goal for every portrait.


Artist Carolyn Hancock invites you to follow her on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube.




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  1. The Artsyshark article perfectly describes your artistic journey for the past couple of years.

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