UK artist Chris Gray was born in 1972 and specialises in producing detailed hand drawn pencil portraits of people from photographs. Chris tells us:
In my younger years I spent a good deal of my time drawing, mostly pictures of cars, aircraft and sometimes animals, always striving to produce the most accurate pictures possible. Despite my enjoyment and interest in art I didn't pursue it beyond school, instead opting for a career in IT. As is often the way when you have other demands in your life, apart from the occasional picture as a present for my close family, several years went by when I didn't develop my artistic interests any further.
In 2003 this was to change when I decided to give my God-daughter's parents something unique for a gift to mark the christening by drawing a portrait of their daughter. When the day came and I gave them their present I was overwhelmed by the positive reaction to the final picture and it proved to be the catalyst to an increasing flow of commissions from other people wanting portraits completed of their children, parents, friends and relatives. Initially the portrait commissions were a great contrast to my day job in IT and gave me the chance to reawaken my creative side, but as time has passed and the volume of work steadily increased, I have been lucky enough to be able to develop things to the point that art is now my sole focus.
Over the years I've been completing portraits I continue to find it very satisfying creating pictures of people who are special to someone and then hearing their reaction and enjoyment of the end result. There also seems to be a growing interest in using old family photographs from previous generations (often suffering the ravages of time) as the basis for my portrait commissions. Recreating them in pencil form can give the original picture a dramatic new lease of life and transform it into a more striking way to remember someone special in the process. I really enjoy the chance to work with this type of source material as it adds another dimension to my drawing activities and gives me an interesting window on the past.
I've worked with other mediums, particularly pastels, but always gravitate back to graphite pencils as I've yet to discover another medium where I can achieve the same level of detail and control. I also like the challenges that come from working without colour and how it forces you to make effective use of tones, textures and contrast to create a drawing that has realism.