Those who follow my work will know that photography has become the ultimate medium for visual storytelling for me, with the technology available today allowing photographers to capture magical moments in such exquisite, incredible detail that our pictures appear alive and virtually breathing.
I didn’t think anything could beat photography for capturing detail, expression or raw emotion by painting with light to make subjects come alive. Until I discovered the breathtaking work of Emma de Bruin, a diminutive 20-year old Architecture student from Cape Town whose art takes portraiture to a whole new level for me.
I fell in love with her recently adopted use of a fountain pen and ink as a medium. The below owl drawings (Emma modestly refers to them as “quick practice sketches”) were her first sketches using this technique whereby a fountain pen nozzle is dipped into a pot of ink. “I find this more enjoyable and challenging than drawing with a normal fineliner pen. I also feel like the results are more raw and less manicured or perfectionist“, she says. A drawing can take anywhere from 4-7 hours depending on the size and amount of detail. Emma estimates that these owls took about 4 hours to complete.
But the jewel in the crown of Emma’s amazing portfolio has to be her pointillism work – a technique of using a fineliner pen to create an image using only dots. She has been using this technique for three years and although it is time consuming, Emma says she gravitated toward using it because “it provides more visual interest than more traditional methods. A simple image can become more provoking because of the amount of detail and the thought of the labour behind it. I typically draw faces with this technique because I enjoy the challenge of achieving a smooth transition of values in the facial features.“
Can you believe this portrait of a man is MADE UP ENTIRELY OF DOTS? My black and white photography pales in comparison.
It took a staggering 317 hours, using a photograph as reference!
The portrait in the header is part of a larger work that uses a mixture of graphite, charcoal and carbon pencils. The hands in the gallery below belong to the same piece. “Here I draw the details and shadows of the subject with a charcoal pencil and blend it out with a blending stump. A small A4 portrait takes me typically 3-4 hours. The large one has taken me several days so far“, says Emma.
To see more of her incredible work visit Emma’s Instagram page here.
And be sure to look out for her on Society6 in the future.