Wakhan Girl – Commissioned Coloured Pencil Portrait

Wakhan Girl is a portrait of a child who lives in the Wakhan Corridor, Afghanistan. The client met her and her family whilst travelling in the region, and took the incredible photograph that inspired this drawing. As with my earlier artwork, Bhutan Women, this has become a visual record of traditional costume from before increasing Westernisation led to changes in the culture and communities.

The sheer complexity of this picture and the arresting expression on the young girl’s face made this by far the most challenging drawing I have experienced. Commissioned portraits are wonderful for stretching me as an artist as they so often contain elements – such as all these beads she is wearing, or the embroidered thread decorating her waistcoat, that I would not ordinarily choose to draw for fun. In addition, working on the fawn coloured paper brought unexpected changes to the vibrancy of the pencil. It is the perfect choice to bring out the white of her head scarf, but meant I had to find a new way to work compared to the more familar approach with white paper.

As is the way with moving beyond your comfort zone, this drawing brings with it for me a sense of pride, greater knowledge of the potential of coloured pencil, and the desire to take all I now know forward into my future creations.