In pictures: Drawn to perfection - the pencil portraits


Simon Usborne
Tuesday 29 January 2013 19:16

Do not adjust your screen: the above portraits are not the products of a camera but the steady hand and sharp pencil of a London artist with an astonishing eye for detail.

Kelvin Okafor is one of the leading proponents of a niche but flourishing school of photo-realists.

The Middlesex fine art graduate is winning plaudits and prizes for his pencil drawings, each of which can take 100 hours over a three-week period to produce.

From his home in Tottenham, North London, Okafor, 27, has created portraits of celebrities as diverse as Amy Winehouse, Tinie Tempah and Mother Teresa, shown here, commanding as much as £10,000 for each work.

He has more than 50 commissions to his name and awards including the Catherine Petitgas Visitors’ Choice Prize, part of the National Open Art Competition.

Okafor’s portraits have also been exhibited at The Mall Galleries in central London as part of the Threadneedle Prize Exhibition.

Before the artist puts the pencil to paper, he spends days analysing his source photographs, concentrating first on the eyes before using thousands of pencil strokes to build detail showing every pore and hair.

“The attention I’m receiving is surreal and hasn’t really sunk in yet,” he told his local Tottenham and Wood Green Journal. “I’m usually sheltered from it in my studio as I continue to build my portfolio, but I’m really humbled and honoured that so many people appreciate my work. I hope to have my own gallery in the future.”

Okafor’s works will be on display from Friday until 3 February at the Works on Paper/Watercolour Fair at the Science Museum in London.

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