I was first introduced to Anson J Henry at the Island Academy Art Show in English Harbour last year. I was immediately taken by his simple description of his artistic medium – “just pencils”. To see what he can do with ‘just pencils’ however, is simply dazzling. He is a hyper-realistic pencil artist – creating pictures that you may initially think were photographs, spending hours extracting a personality from a image and recreating it on Bristol board to profound effect.
I am honoured to present this interview and to show you some of his work this week! This is the story of an extraordinary talent wrapped up in a gorgeous man.
Originally from Guyana, Anson and his family moved to Antigua when he was 6 years old and Antigua became home. During early artistic efforts at school and at home he decided that painting was too messy for him and that he preferred learning about pencil techniques and still life.
Art was something Anson did on and off over the next years even giving it up for a while as a lost cause. It wasn’t until 2011 when he returned to Guyana and a family friend told him that she heard he could draw and asked him to show her. He drew these crystal glasses. She told him that she would pay him for his drawing and immediately commissioned a portrait:
Earning money doing something that he enjoyed was a turning point for him and he began to move forward. On his journey of self discovery, Anson realised that he needed to be selective about the commissions he took on so as to stay true to his soul. He admits that his best work ‘draws from his emotions’.
With an impressive portfolio now, he has a wonderfully lively facebook page that you must check out to see the works in progress and how painstaking it is!
1. Tell me a little about your background and how you got started drawing?
I was about 5 years old when I made my first attempt at a piece. My cousin, who was about 7 years at the time, took a picture out my photo album, placed a plain piece of paper over it and began tracing it. I watched as she followed the lines and mimicked shapes. I noticed that it was easy and told her that I could do it better, and so I took the pencil into my hand for the first time and started the journey I am currently continuing. I showed this drawing to my parents and they were awed by the sudden burst of talent I presented. From that day on I never stopped drawing. It started from tracing pictures to drawing cartoons to creating some of the most realistic pieces.
Upon my start at the Antigua Grammar School, I was excited about starting a new phase in my new found hobby but it wasn’t exactly what I had hoped in the beginning. There were times when I decided to completely stop drawing because I couldn’t find the exact fit for my talent. There were times when it was too messy and times when I wouldn’t get it right and it was a complete motivation killer. But I had soon after found my comfortable spot and from there magic happened. My art teacher at the time realized that there wasn’t much I could learn because I had matured so much as an artist.
2. Your drawings are incredibly lifelike, how long does it take you to complete one, on average?
How much time would I spend completing a piece? That would depend on the piece but it would be between a week to 2 months approximately.
3. With such an impressive portfolio, do you have any formal art education or do you believe that art is more about the practise?
Apart from my studies at the Antigua Grammar School, I haven’t yet to obtain any further training. Most artists that I’ve had encounters with were very impressed with my work and shocked when discovered I didn’t obtain my talent from an art learning program.
4. Where do you seek your inspiration?
Every artist has to have an inspiration when drawing. Apart from pulling my inspiration from the individual whose work I am completing, I believe that to obtain the best final piece, a more personal inspiration should be available. And my inspiration is music. Most individuals can relate because music isn’t just for entertainment purposes but also as a calming factor when you’re mounting to success.
5. What do you love most about Antigua?
What I admire about Antigua and Barbuda is the comradery amongst the locals. The feeling of trust and a bond created by shared goals and the ability to enjoy the support of the nation is something that have piqued my interest in the twin island.
6. Where is your favourite liming (hangout) spot in Antigua?
I don’t necessarily have a preferred liming spot, that is, a bar or social hype location but I do enjoy spending most of my time at the gym. I also do have an interest in occupying my nights at the beach after I have completed a piece or, rather rarely, when I get blocks while completing a piece.
7. What motto do you live by?
“Once I see it, and feel it, I can do it.”
8. What is your proudest career moment so far?
My proudest career moment? I don’t really have one at this point in my life. I should say there is more to be done in order for me to have peace in acquiring a proud moment.
9. What is your dream for the future?
The glimpse of the future, in the simplest way possible, is to become the first Caribbean artist to be recognized for their work in hyper realistic drawing and specializing in portrait drawings and other forms of photo-realism.
12. Most importantly! Where can we find your artwork to buy?
To obtain my work or to have a business related venture contact me via:
Facebook Business Page Anson J. Henry
Telephone +1268 -782-2145
or Email email@example.com.