Black and white graphite pencil portraits, with Netherlands-based artist, Robert Lee Jordan

Captivating. That’s the first word that came to mind when I was thinking of how to describe the work of Netherlands-based artist, Robert Lee Jordan. As an artist, I am always interested in how other artists think about their work and their process of creating art. I came across the art of Robert Lee Jordan while scrolling through posts on Instagram. I stopped as soon as I saw the portrait of Chris Cornell. It was full of dark contrasts and beautifully rendered details. It had a creative composition that incorporated both a facial close-up and a partial upper body view. These two images juxtaposed into one was very powerful. The two flowed together seamlessly and created a very vivid emotional quality to the photo that seemed to convey the very essence of Chris Cornell. Robert’s drawings are not only realistically drawn with an expert skill level, they convey a definitive emotion and contain bits and pieces of the subject’s soul in them. A person can’t help but be captivated and drawn-in when looking at one of his drawings. Thank you Robert, for allowing me to ask you a few questions about your art, the influence of music and your artistic process.

What is your background? How did you get into this art and how long have you been doing it?

As a child, I was drawing all the time. The view from my bedroom window, my hand, my family, just anything I came across and found interesting.

For some reason, this all changed when I entered my teen years and I didn’t draw a single thing for almost 20 years.

Six months ago everything changed.

I am a rock ‘n roll autograph collector and absolutely crazy about the Rolling Stones.I knew the Rolling Stones’ drummer Charlie Watts would sign photos if you sent them in.However, I wanted Charlie’s autograph to be special, so I thought after all those years I would give drawing a go again and sent in his portrait. I used pencils and paper from the local toy store and I didn’t have a clue what 2H, 8B and all of that meant. I just used what I could find and started sketching.The satisfaction it gave me seeing Charlie Watts come to life on my paper was enormous and made me want to continue making more portrait drawings. Basically, to cut a long story short, you could say I am drawing today because of Charlie Watts.

What is your artistic style and process?

At first, I was just drawing portraits using photo references. My drawings would basically be copies of nice photos I had found online. After a few portraits, I knew this wasn’t the direction I wanted to go in. I would go online and see the drawing I had made had already been done by dozens of people and it was basically turning into a competition who had drawn it the most realistic.

I really started to feel the need to create something that was my own and unique from what others had made. I just didn’t see the point of making it otherwise. And so from there on I completely changed the way I was working. I take my time now before I make a new piece. When I have a person in mind who I want to draw, mainly musicians I admire, I will search the internet for photos.

In my mind, I will start shaping the photos in how I want them to be. Then I use Photoshop to visualize the idea I have in my mind and use the resulted creation as a reference for my drawing.

My life has really started to take a turn since I work like this. I notice with each piece I make I’m getting better and my work is gaining in popularity also. I would be lying if I said I didn’t care about that. I really enjoy the attention my work is receiving and it gives me a very proud feeling when I read in comments that my work has actually made someone feel emotional. In my opinion that is the greatest compliment an artist can get.

I think that is the main reason I enjoy drawing people. Creating life on paper is one thing. But creating emotions in the people who see it is art.

Why is music a focal point of your art?

Music just does something to me.. Rock ‘n roll, the blues, it makes me feel alive. When I start drawing a new piece I turn on my laptop and play a live concert of the Stones or Bowie and off I am, drawing till 3 am.

Where has your art been featured?

My Keith Richards drawing will be published in the second press of Babysitting A Band On The Rocks, a great book written by G.D. Praetorius telling his story about a chaotic life as a concert producer in the early 1980’s.

For the rest, it’s mainly social media where you’ll find my work. I’m very active on Instagram (robertleejordan_art).

A number of band fan pages have shared my work and art sharing pages are also sharing my work from time to time. My latest drawing of Chris Cornell won a major Black and White Art Contest organized by some of the largest art sharing pages on Instagram. Just recently I have also started selling prints of my work all over the world and last but not least I’ll be launching my website soon.All in all, I can say My life is a roller-coaster ride at the moment and I’m loving it!

~ Robert Lee Jordan

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Produced by /and in collaboration with Gail Younts:

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