Art is not a handicraft: it is the transmission of feeling the artist has experienced, wrote the great Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy. Here in Ghana, pencil artists have been making waves, exploiting their talent and at the same time promoting the art industry.
Despite common misconceptions about the slow growth of the art industry in Ghana, a young artist called Natius Pencil believes that budding artists like him will change the face of the art industry in Ghana in the future.
Ignatius Kyeremeh, or Natius Pencil, as he styles himself, is a junior high school graduate from Freeman Methodist JHS in Techiman in the Bono Region. He told Asaase News that he discovered his talent for art at the age of five. At that time, he used to draw cartoons just for fun, but later he was inspired by one of his sisters to delve deeper.
My dad wants me to do science
“When I was five years old in school, I drew a lot,” he said. “One of my sisters is an artist and any time I spied her works, I tried to do some.”
The young self-taught artist, who has mastered the dynamics of shade and light and translating them into powerfully detailed pencil drawings, disclosed that his father initially tried to dampen his passion. Later, however, he supported Ignatius’s course after his sister intervened.
“My mom was supporting me, but my dad was telling me to go and do science in SHS,” Ignatius said. “But I told my sister and my sister explained art to my father. So, gradually, my father understood and told me to continue.”
He added, “I am still praying that God will help me pass through.”
Two days to complete an artwork
The prolific young artist, who makes portraits that you could describe as modernist, described to Asaase News how he captures unique aspects of human features and human emotions through observing and translating the tiny details of human appearance on paper to produce a successful piece. Natius Pencil says it takes just two days to complete a piece of art.
“I use two days to complete my artwork. I just take a picture and study it for a day. So, after studying it in the night, I make my gridlines on the paper.
“The next morning, I start the sketch and start shading and then after that I go and buy the frames to cover my work.”
Ignatius’s area of specialisation is mostly the human figure. The realism of his drawings has captivated many people on social media.
Keep on pushing
Natius Pencil also argued against misconception of the business of art in Ghana. He believes young artists like him can help change the face of the industry.
“Sometimes people will be saying, ‘Art is not good. Go and take a better course, because it will not send you anywhere in this Ghana,’” he said.
He urged young artists to “keep on pushing. It will help them one day.”
Natius doesn’t use any tools for his drawings, other than pencils. He makes his work with so much precision that most celebrities have fallen in love with it.
On Monday the young artist paid a surprise visit to Asaase Radio, coming to Accra all the way from Techiman to present a beautiful portrait he made to honour one of the senior staff, Abedi Anim.
To Abedi’s surprise, the young man presented a spotless replica to him – drawn with just a pencil.