Pencil Perfect Portraits

The Great Discovery
Graphite came into widespread use following the discovery of a large graphite deposit in Borrowdale, England in 1564. Preferred for leaving a darker mark than lead, the mineral proved so soft and brittle that it required a holder. Originally, graphite sticks were wrapped in string.

Later, the graphite was inserted into hollowed-out wooden sticks and, thus, the wood-cased pencil was born! In the 1890’s pencils were painted yellow to show that they contained Chinese graphite which was the best graphite in the world. Since yellow is associated with royalty and respect in China the pencil, American manufactures began painting their pencils bright yellow to communicate the regal feeling. What was perceived as regal is now common place with mass production. However, common place is certainly not a term to describe some of the great graphite renderings that artist have done with a simple pencil.

Power in the Lead
We’ve selected a few exceptional portrait artists that showcase the excellence of realism with graphite.

Skill and Precision: Diego Fazo
Artists such as 22-year old Italian artist Diego Fazo has developed his skill with a simple graphite pencil with such precision that the validity of his images have been documented with visual steps showing his work in progress!

Diego Fazo

Diego Fazo-completed
Light & Shadow: Dirk Dzimirsky
German self-taught Artist Dirk Dzimirsky captures the presence of life by using light and shadow and building layer upon layer with graphite. Each drawing takes between 30-80 hours.
Practice makes perfect in capturing likeness: Franco Clun
Celebrating half century, Italian self-taught has always had overwhelming passions, and the drawing is one of them.


Intense & Natural: Armin Mersmann
“I find a good rendering is a drawing of what a person sees, I find  a work of art is a drawing of what others don’t see.”