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Mike Sibley

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One of the world's few professional graphite pencil artists, art educator, and author of the drawing bible Drawing from Line to Life.

Mike Sibley

Mike Sibley

My art, book, and teaching

When I first began my art career I was often astonished to find more experienced artists treating every technique as a “trade secret” and divulging little. I determined at that time not to emulate them but to be free with encouragement and advice.

I've been drawing professionally since 1980 and I've learned a lot in that time, so "Why" I ask myself "should I expect less-experienced artists to have to learn those lessons the hard way, when I can provide short-cuts from my own experience?" I can’t think of a single reason. And little gives me more pleasure than to see a novice artist take a giant step forward.

I used my tutorials at SibleyFineArt.com to pass on some of my knowledge and in early 2006 I released my book "Drawing from Line to Life". As a result of the many requests I received from purchasers of my book for personal tuition, I began to run UK workshops. A year later I ran a 5-day workshop in West Yellowstone, Montana, and I now hold workshops in both the UK and USA.

I consider myself a near-Realist – my aim in my work is to emphasise character, tell a story, display the intricacies of the subject’s creation, and to draw in a manner that suggests a reality while still maintaining the feel of a hand-drawn work of art.

Realism in drawing brings out the Sherlock Holmes in you. No longer can you walk down a country lane without observing the variety of wildlife and weeds; you'll appreciate the variety of leaves and the insect life that lives upon them; the way Ivy clings to tree bark; and notice the upturned wingtips of the Crows that fly overhead. Even in your own home, you can't help studying the myriad patterns of reflected light that appear on your shiny kettle or toaster. I feel compelled to display even the smallest detail to viewers of my work, as if to say, "Do you see this? Do you really see this? Isn't it beautiful, this marvel of Nature?" And if I feel just one person has finally been encouraged to "see" instead of look, I'll have done my job.

My best work always results from drawing something that inspires me or presents a challenge. Sometimes it's the overall study that challenges, or perhaps it's an element within the study, such as water, mist, a bicycle... I think it's true to say that every drawing now has at least one challenging element within it – I'm not a drawing machine, and challenge keeps my work fresh.

Read Mike's full bio (PDF format).