Every once in a while, an artist comes along that makes you pause and reevaluate the power of human talent.
My neighbor, Haight Ashbury portraiteer Claudia Bicen, falls into that category. Her collection of local faces, created entirely out of pastel, is so life-like that viewers can't help but be startled into paying attention.
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Bicen captures a cross-section of nuanced emotions in her work, from playful and irreverent to somber and vulnerable. I recently caught up with her to see where she draws inspiration (pun intended).
"I started drawing personal portraits as a way to feel closer to my family back in London," she explained. "Spending so many hours with them in this way was a therapeutic and meditative process and I fell in love with creating familiar faces out of a spectrum of colored pastels and a blank piece of paper."
But her art extends beyond those closest to her heart. "I immediately became compelled to draw others, at first the people in my life, but more recently anyone that strikes me as unique and interesting," she added. "What always surprises me most is how a simple alteration to a contour or tone can cause a curious likeness to emerge that wasn't there before."
Bicen's debut collection will be on display at Stanza on Haight Street through the month of August. We have a feeling it won't be her last.
Take a look at some of her pieces below, and stop by the opening party on Thursday. (Bonus: I'm one of the subjects!):