Sit Down With Our May '21 Featured Artist
Art By Safanah
Hey there! My name is Safanah and I draw objects and nature realistically with coloured pencils. Walking straight out of high school wanting to fully scale my art career I spent my entire childhood trying a million different things. Everything from Zentangle patterns to henna and acrylic painting. I was relatively OK at all these things, but it wasn’t until I worked with coloured pencil a few times that I felt comfortable with something. I’ve always been pretty terrible at drawing, and to be honest I still am. But what I am good at is making a drawing resemble a photo. Enjoy the supplies and inspiration included in this box. I look forward to seeing what you create.
What is the story behind the creation of your Liquid White Coloured Pencil?
In realism, the most important aspect is getting the highlights and shadows right. After messing with coloured pencils for many years, I could never quite get the brightness I wanted without turning to a different medium like paint or gel pens. I wanted something that would stay in the realm of coloured pencil, have big payoff, but also be layerable and customizable. After researching all about how coloured pencils are made, I started to mix together different concoctions until I finally had something that checked all the boxes. I knew this was something other coloured pencil artists would want to get their hands on, so I launched Liquid White Coloured Pencil in February of 2020, and it’s been very surreal to see it become a staple in many professional and hobby artists’ kits!
Does your experience with art influence the products you want create?
Absolutely. The creation of Liquid White Coloured Pencil was the answer to a problem that I not only experienced myself, but that I observed in the coloured pencil art community. I continue to look for different problems I can help solve when it comes to coloured pencils and art in general to see what I can create next.
What is your favourite medium to work with?
You may have been able to tell by now, but its hands-down coloured pencils. When it comes to realism, coloured pencils allow you to be as precise as possible, accounting for every detail. It’s also an incredibly unforgiving medium which just adds to the learning curve and challenge of creating something perfectly imperfect.
Where do you look to for inspiration?
Everyday objects and nature. Spend enough time with realism and you start to appreciate the way light hits, reflects and contours ordinary things. Then add texture to that thing, like a parrot tulip or a hellebore, and that becomes a whole new exciting challenge.
How do you think your style has developed over time?
I’ve been messing with art since I was very young. I’ve tried every kind of medium out there: I was adequate with some while I failed miserably with others. It wasn’t until I discovered coloured pencil realism that I finally found something I wasn’t awful at. I tried lots of different styles in the beginning, but I think I’ve become most comfortable with still-lifes that emphasize shadows and light and the beauty of varying textures and dramatic colours.
What is your biggest motivator?
Oddly, finally finishing a project/piece. It’s important to push through the ‘ugly’ stage. Instead of working over the entire piece in layers, I prefer to finish one section at a time to get that ‘completion motivation.’
What has been the biggest challenge you have faced in your career?
Being “your own boss” has a unique set of challenges. You’re not only the boss, but you’re also the employee. Continuing on, even when your efforts inevitably fail over and over again, takes a lot of discipline. But finally finding something that sticks is incredibly rewarding!
Do you have a favourite subject that you like to draw? If so, what is it and why?
Place anything on a rich, dark background and it makes something ordinary like a piece of bread or teapot look so eye-catching. Subduing the background from bright white to black allows the colours of the subject to pop and get beautifully wrapped in shadows and light.
What is the best thing about being an artist?
Getting to create pieces that hold some much value to a client. Whether it’s recreating a childhood memory in a still-life or making something the client shall gift to a loved one, getting to recreate things that are not only eye-pleasing but carry so much emotion has to be the best part.
What is your favourite flower?
A tough one to answer, but I’ll have to go with the Parrot Tulip. They come in so many different vibrant colours all mixed together and the texture of the petals is so unique to this family of tulips; they call for all the neons and brights that rarely get used in your coloured pencil set.
Do You have a favourite colour?
White. It’s a blank canvas, it’s intimidating, it holds so much potential. It’ll take on whatever you want to do next. White holds all colours in the entire spectrum. It’s every colour all at once. I chose white for my brand Pearl Burnish naturally, as the product itself is white, but also because it’s a blank canvas to fit into everyone’s unique style, whatever kind of art you create.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Embrace failure. It’s the best teacher.
Is there anything that you have always wanted to do/place you have always wanted to visit?
Finland in the winter time. Living in California, I rarely experience snow. With white being my favourite colour, seeing everything covered in snow would be surreal.