Holly and I first met a little over a year ago through email when she was setting up her website. I was immediately intrigued with her story and her portrait work. Holly is a very talented portrait artist at the threshold of what I'm certain will be a long and rewarding career.
Today, I introduce you to Holly Bedrosian.
Holly, you majored in the sciences in college, graduated with a bachelor's degree in physics and had, "in your own words", a successful and stable job as an engineer for ten yeas. How does your experience in the business world influence you today as an artist?
"Most people are surprised to hear that I made such a drastic career change, but looking back, my career path makes sense. The sciences are not that different from the fine arts, requiring methodical processes and rigorous attention to detail. When I became mature enough to fully appreciate the importance of creativity and passion to career fulfillment and success, I knew I had to become an artist. That's probably the most important thing I learned from my previous career as an engineer."
Your career move was life changing...I have to ask, did you test the waters or did you just jump in?
"One day I was surfing the internet and came across a great source for artist website creation and marketing support, FineArtStudioOnline. Since the trial period was free, I set up a website just for fun and posted some old pencil sketches (from 1996!) that I had done. Once the website was up, I grew increasingly excited about the possibility of becoming an artist, and I started buying some art supplies. At first I tried oil paints, but I didn't like the mess and was very unaccustomed to the way the paint moved around the canvas. As soon as I tried colored pencil, I was hooked. I had (and still have) a huge learning curve ahead of me."
Do you recall what first attracted you to colored pencil and who is the one person that has had the greatest impact on your career?
"I think it was just a matter of stumbling across some remarkable colored pencil artists that first attracted me to the medium. I had no idea that such realistic "paintings" could be created with colored pencils, and I was interested in giving it a try. At the same time I had just taken on a stressful position at work, and was growing increasingly unhappy with my job. When I suggested the idea of becoming an artist to my husband, he embraced it wholeheartedly. Because of his support and honest criticism of my work, I'd have to say that my husband is the one person who has had the greatest impact on my career thus far."
Your portrait work is both exciting and yet sensitive. I wonder, have you found acquiring your photo references difficult, and are there any photography tricks you can give other artists who enjoy doing portrait and figurative work?
"Thank you! I separate my work into two categories: commissioned portraits and figurative pieces (some of which look like portraits) that are available for purchase. In the beginning I thought that I would work solely from client photographs due to convenience, but now I offer (and prefer) to set up a photography session so that I can better control the lighting, poses, and ensure that I have a sufficiently detailed reference. Also, I prefer to know the subject because I really do try to incorporate their personality into the portrait. The figurative works are primarily based on photos I take, all though my husband took the reference photos for most of the self-portraits I have done. (Of course, when drawing myself I have the mirror as an additional reference!) I don't consider myself to be a great photographer, and I have a bit to learn in terms of composition, but I am getting there. Many times I need to crop, rearrange, or only use part of the photos I've taken. I consider that part of the creative process, and important to making the finished piece a unique piece of art."
I'm particularly drawn to "Brass Ensemble"...how does this piece express your philosophy of drawing subjects that inspire you as an artist?
"I took many photographs at a concert I went to last winter, and couldn't quite decide on a good reference photo. To me, many of the photos looked like a jumbled group of people partially obstructed by instruments and music stands. Finally I realized that this was what I needed to capture: this chaotic group of entangled musicians that somehow finds beautiful order and harmony in it's sound. I enjoyed doing this piece partly due to the fact that my other passion is music. I also really enjoyed adding small details like the reflections of the musician's faces in the instruments and the notes on the sheet of music."
As you look back on your first year as a full time artist, what have been your greatest challenges, what are you most proud of, and what do you wish you had done differently?
"Well, I don't wish I could have done anything differently, because all of my mistakes have been learning experiences. I did apply to some pretty prestigious competitions before I was ready, and the rejections were helpful in letting me know where I stood, and pushing me to improve. My greatest challenge is the business and marketing aspect of being self-employed and trying to promote my art. I am most proud of the testimonials I have received from clients, getting into exhibitions in my first year, and being recognized by successful artists like you!"
I can't close this interview without mentioning your touching self portrait "Winter Blues"...the angle of the photo and the composition of the drawing are perfect. How do you handle it when you are asked to do a commissioned piece from a less than desirable photo?
"I will admit that I have had a few requests for portraits based on less that perfect photographs. I have turned away a couple, because even thought the photograph could be deemed "artistic" in it's angle and composition, wouldn't have made a good painting. In these cases, I suggested framing the photograph as a memoir, and offered to work from another photograph. In another case, the client wanted me to create a portrait of a couple based on really old photographs, but there were no clear photos of the two subjects together. In this case I did my best to combine several photos into one, but I'm moving toward doing most portraits from my own photographs. Thank you for the compliment on "Winter Blues"! I enjoyed being able to control the setup and expressing myself through this piece."
As we finish...I want to say. thank you Holly for spending this time with me and for sharing so openly. I wish you only the best in the years ahead.
Some things Holly didn't tell you:
- November 2007..."Peter" was awarded First Place in the Pastel, Colored Pencil, Graphics division of the American Juried Art Salon Fall- Winter 2007 Exhibition
- Holly has had works accepted into American Juried Art Salon 2007 Fall/Winter Exhibition, The July 2007 Projekt30 Exhibition and The 2007 Blanche Ames National Exhibition.
You can see more art by Holly Bedrosian by visiting the links below.
Holly Bedrosian Fine Art...online gallery
Holly Bedrosian Fine Art...blogspot
Fine Art America...giclee prints
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