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Interview with Andrew James Holmes - photorealist portraitist

Nestled in the north-east of England, resides and works the self-taught phenomenal photorealist pencil artist, Andrew James Holmes.

We first saw Andrew's work earlier this year when he enquired about our Bristol Boards and other paper, and he quickly became one of our favourites. I think you can see why.

From the sleekness and shine of a labrador's coat to the bouncing energy and playfulness of puppies, with just graphite, paper, and a whole lot of talent, Andrew stunningly captures the spirit of animals. He gave us a few moments of his busy time to do an interview with us.

Andrew James Holmes Artist Papers Strathmore Photorealism BristolYour work is very detailed, almost draughtsmen-like, what was your background and training?

In terms of my drawing skills, I'm entirely self taught. I studied Interior Architecture at college, which was more computer based than I would have liked, but get more pleasure from drawing portraits.

Andrew James Holmes Artist Papers Strathmore Photorealism Bristol Collie and ball

You have been using our Bristol paper, and have been liking it, what in particular do you like? You mentioned that it can help take and push the graphite layers and darker greys for instance…

The Bristol board can take an awful lot of pencil strokes, and because of the way its made, there is no danger of a heavy handed pencil stroke taking a fine layer of paper off and ruining the drawing. It is very handy for brown and black dogs, and I have achieved really dark greys which I haven't been able to on other papers

The sleek nature of the coats on the dogs are unbelievable, do you use correction fluid or it looks as though you almost sculpt with the eraser? It's really beautiful and must have taken a long time to perfect?

I just use a pencil and rubber. I apply a light layer of HB pencil and smooth with cotton wool. I then start picking out pronounced darker blocks and repeat. I move onto 2B for finer darker details, then I finely use a rubber to pick out highlights. I finish with a 4B for really dark spots, and a final layer of really fine hair detail using a 0.3mm 3H pencil.

Andrew James Holmes Artist Papers Strathmore Photorealism Bristol StaffieYou are very busy with commissions, do you have a favourite way of working? Do you work in a studio, to music, from photos, a strict regime or more flexible?

I'm still in full-time employment, and so my drawings are more of a spare time hobby. I hope to spend more time drawing, and with the current demand, it seems a possibility to draw full-time. I work from home in our spare room and try to do at least 2 hours a day. I always draw with some music on to 'zone-out' and concentrate. Oh, and draw from photographs.

If you had to rescue one thing from your studio what would it be?

My 0.5mm HB mechanical pencil. I've had it since I can remember, and I always start and finish a drawing with it.

And a final fun question, if you were a Strathmore paper which would you be?

500 series Bristol, able to take a lot of pressure :)


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