I Create Photorealistic Charcoal Drawings
My name is Emily Copeland, and I'm a Canadian charcoal artist, specializing in photorealism. I focus on recreating objects on a larger scale.
At the age of only 23, less than a year out of my Undergrad, I secured my first large scale solo show in the heart of New York City, at the Bernarducci Meisel Gallery after my realistic drawings got noticed on Instagram. I now enjoy drawing as a full-time job, selling most of my works out of New York.
As an artist, I mostly focus on vintage and retro objects as my drawing ideas. I strive to rediscover forgotten objects and bring them into a new modern light. From disco balls to old library books, these still life greyscale drawings are created to be much larger than life. The effect is surreal, monumental, and exposes details one would not normally see and may very possibly overlook.
Finding ornate and detailed vintage objects to draw can be challenging. Objects can either gain or lose their appeal when expressed in black and white drawings. A colorful subject might only contain a monochrome tonal scale, making it look flat and uninteresting. Objects with higher contrast help to give the black and white painting more depth and the impression that it is popping off the page.
I keep a list of objects that I'm always hunting for, but not just any object will do. There has to be a reaction and a response when I see an item. It has to contain detail, contrast, texture, and most importantly, it has to challenge me in some way. Charcoal is difficult to erase, and there is no undo button, nor the ability to paint over a section you are not happy with. It must be drawn accurately the first time, which takes concentration and patience. The more tedious and demanding an object is, the more I enjoy turning it into realistic art.
A vintage phone was a longstanding fixture on my list, but I struggled to find one that truly spoke to me. However, when I saw this phone at an antique store just over two months ago, I knew I had found the perfect one to draw. I had never seen anything like it, and I knew that this was going to be an exciting but challenging task. It was incredibly intricate, with vast amounts of detail, remarkable shine, and reflection throughout. The phone was a piece of art on its own.
Antiques always have stories, and often, I do not have a personal connection to the items I draw. I love that the objects I draw have an unknown past and that people can attach their own personal stories or memories to certain objects, or create new ones.
When I am drawing, I often refer back to the Baroque era, when artists such as Caravaggio used chiaroscuro to create intense shadows and contrasts. The unique art of this era inspires me to show detail and showcase the intricacies of the object. I like to mix old and new in my works, by representing old objects in a new and modern way.