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Drawing plenty of attention: The incredible sketches which look just like digital photographs

Thursday, January 31, 2013

On first glance, these stripped-back images of well-known figures look like beautifully shot photographs.

In fact, each one is an incredibly detailed pencil drawing.
Their astonishing realism is rapidly making their young artist as famous as his subjects - who include Beyonce, Amy Winehouse, Princess Diana and Mother Teresa.
Kelvin Okafur, 27, graduated from Middlesex University in fine art and is now making waves across the country.
His subjects include popular music artists Tinie Tempah, James Morrison and Adele.
He has also picked out tragic figures from actor Heath Ledger to the late King of Jordan, King Hussein - and with each, he tries to evoke an emotion in the viewer.

Back to Black: Singer Amy Winehouse is shown staring wide-eyed into the distance in this emotive sketch

Finally, he has used friends and colleagues for the impressively accurate images, which look like soft focus digital photos.
Last year, the artist from Tottenham, north London, exhibited at numerous major art galleries and won a clutch of prestigious national awards for his remarkable work.
Each of his pieces takes around 80-100 hours to complete, over approximately three weeks in the studio.
Mr Okafor creates each piece only in black and white - using graphite pencils, charcoal, black coloured pencil and sometimes grey pastels.
Yet he believes that the range of tone, shade and texture is almost endless.

Windows to the soul: Kelvin Okafor begins with the eyes when he creates his realistic sketches of famous faces from Beyonce to Mother Teresa

He draws on a combination of life and photographs, working on his art for up to 15 hours a day.
He admits he is 'passionate about precision'.
'I aspire to create art as vivid as eyes could see,' the artist writes on his blog.
'I want my drawings to prompt an emotional response, making viewers feel as though they are looking at a real live subject.
Mr Okafor describes the pencil as 'a humble instrument', but says this is part of its appeal.
'I’ve always been creative, but fell in love with using pencils in particular.
'It amazed me, that with only one shade of lead, you can create so many tones and textures, and almost create the illusion of colour.

Invincible: The Middlesex University Fine Art graduate is gaining increasing recognition with images including this one of pop star Tinie Tempah

'It was only when my images started to create a buzz with other Middlesex University students that I realised their impact.'
He was selected as one of the top two pieces of work at Cork Street Gallery's Winter Show in 2012 and recently won the Catherine Petitgas Visitors’ Choice Prize, part of the National Open Art Competition.
His work is currently on display at the The Watercolours + Works on Paper Fair at the London Science Museum, until February 3.
Before starting a piece, Mr Okafor spends a few days analysing a photo, concentrating first on the subject’s eyes, which are central to his works' impact.
His pieces are now selling for on average £8,000-£10,000, depending on the scale.

Each work takes the 27-year-old up to 100 hours to complete, and he tries to inspire emotion in the viewer with vivid portraits. Pictured, Heath Ledger and Princess Diana

'The attention I’m receiving is surreal and hasn’t really sunk in yet,' he added.
'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.'
He has now had more than 50 commissions, and the dedicated artist cites his role models as Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo - because they not only mastered the arts but branched out into other fields including engineering, poetry, science and maths.
Twitter users describe his work as 'incredible', 'extraordinary' and 'astounding'.

Beauty of life: Mr Okafor favours using a simple pencil because he it is 'humble' and allows a subject - such as James Morrison, pictured - to shine

The talented artist is gaining a large following and has made videos showing the evolution of his work, to illustrate just how each one is created.
Even so, the extent of his skill is truly breathtaking.
Watch this space.

Rated R: The London-based artist has now scooped national awards and is exhibiting across the country. Pictured, Rihanna

In line for fame and fortune: Singer Corinne Bailey Rae, left, was another source of inspiration for Kelvin Okafor, right

source: dailymail