Artist Only Draws the Light Cast on Women in These Stunning Charcoal and Pastel Portraits

Zulf Charcoal and Pastel Art

London-based artist Zulf creates dramatic portraits of women half-hidden in the shadows. These realistic drawings are made on black paper using a combination of pastel and charcoal. Instead of drafting the model's entire face on the page, Zulf invents a light source in the composition and draws only the illuminated parts of the person's face, hair, and body. Not only is this minimalist approach to portrait drawing immediately eye-catching, but it also demonstrates his masterful knowledge of light and shadow.

Zulf utilizes light-colored pastels and charcoals to add fine details to each drawing. For instance, in some of the portraits of long-haired women, he carefully sketches white into the dark paper, blending some of it into the shadow, whilst leaving other parts starker. Then, to imitate certain bright lights, the artist catches the subject's extra fine hairs that are otherwise invisible to the naked eye. In other pieces where the sitter wears sunglasses, he experiments with reflection. As for those where the light source is completely hidden, the keen creative displays the subject as a silhouette. Zulf even adds peach fuzz and texture to the skin of his models to further accentuate a sense of realism and life behind the light and shadows. The balance of light and dark, and detail and blank space make these pieces almost cinematic in their drama.

Scroll down to see more of Zulf's art, and follow the artist on Instagram to keep up to date with his latest creations.

London-based artist Zulf creates dramatic art using charcoal and pastel.

Zulf Charcoal and Pastel Art

He draws the highlights of his subjects on black paper.

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My Modern Met granted permission to feature photos by Zulf.

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Margherita Cole

Margherita Cole is a Contributing Writer at My Modern Met and illustrator based in Southern California. She holds a BA in Art History with a minor in Studio Art from Wofford College, and an MA in Illustration: Authorial Practice from Falmouth University in the UK. She wrote and illustrated an instructional art book about how to draw cartoons titled 'Cartooning Made Easy: Circle, Triangle, Square' that was published by Walter Foster in 2022.
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