Home / Art

Artist Draws Portraits of People from Behind to Give New Perspective of Visual Identity

Nettie Wakefield Reversed Portraits Reversed Portrait Series Pencil Drawings

Like many other artists skilled in the art of sketching, self-described “pencil snob” Nettie Wakefield often dabbles in portraiture. Rather than depicting people's smiling faces or distinctive profiles, however, the British artist has a unique approach to the age-old artistic practice. As evident in her one-of-a-kind Reversed Portrait pencil series, Wakefield peculiarly prefers to portray her subjects from behind.

Wakefield's unique series features studies of individuals from all walks of life—from school-aged girls with playful ponytails to young men clad in hats to older women with done-up do's. Using only graphite pencils and presenting merely the backs of their heads, the artist is able to produce detailed depictions of real people. Each portrait showcases both her amazing drafting skills and her remarkable knack for capturing an individual's identity—all without including his or her tell-all facial features.

Wakefield's decision to draw people from such a unique angle initially arose while she was studying Art History as a graduate student. One day, during a not-so-exciting lecture, she spontaneously started to sketch a student sitting in front of her. To Wakefield, it didn't matter that she couldn't see her face—in fact, that's what intrigued her.

“There was this girl sitting in front of me and I couldn't see her face,” she told The Jealous Curator in an interview. “I was sort of left imagining who she was, and I thought that the mystery of it was quite interesting.” Since then, the artist has been sketching reversed portraits of strangers, friends, and clients. You can see her process and follow the progress behind the series on Instagram.

Now, check out a selection of Nattie Wakefield's fascinating Reversed Portrait drawings.

Nettie Wakefield Reversed Portraits Reversed Portrait Series Pencil DrawingsNettie Wakefield Reversed Portraits Reversed Portrait Series Pencil DrawingsNettie Wakefield Reversed Portraits Reversed Portrait Series Pencil DrawingsNettie Wakefield Reversed Portraits Reversed Portrait Series Pencil DrawingsNettie Wakefield Reversed Portraits Reversed Portrait Series Pencil DrawingsNettie Wakefield Reversed Portraits Reversed Portrait Series Pencil DrawingsNettie Wakefield Reversed Portraits Reversed Portrait Series Pencil DrawingsNettie Wakefield Reversed Portraits Reversed Portrait Series Pencil DrawingsNettie Wakefield Reversed Portraits Reversed Portrait Series Pencil DrawingsNettie Wakefield Reversed Portraits Reversed Portrait Series Pencil DrawingsNettie Wakefield Reversed Portraits Reversed Portrait Series Pencil DrawingsNettie Wakefield Reversed Portraits Reversed Portrait Series Pencil DrawingsNettie Wakefield Reversed Portraits Reversed Portrait Series Pencil DrawingsNettie Wakefield: Website | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter
h/t: [The Jealous Curator]

All images via Nettie Wakefield.

Kelly Richman-Abdou

Kelly Richman-Abdou is a Contributing Writer at My Modern Met. An art historian living in Paris, Kelly was born and raised in San Francisco and holds a BA in Art History from the University of San Francisco and an MA in Art and Museum Studies from Georgetown University. When she’s not writing, you can find Kelly wandering around Paris, whether she’s leading a tour (as a guide, she has been interviewed by BBC World News America and France 24) or simply taking a stroll with her husband and two tiny daughters.
Become a
My Modern Met Member
As a member, you'll join us in our effort to support the arts.
Become a Member
Explore member benefits

Sponsored Content

[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]