Pencil Portraits by Sonja

North Carolina, United States
| 67 Sales | 5 out of 5 stars 5 out of 5 stars

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About sonjaheisingerart

Sales 67
On Etsy since 2021

Healing through Art

I got a phone call that changed my life in 2012. My parents were in a car accident, and neither of them survived. I was twenty-four, married, fresh from living overseas doing humanitarian work with my husband. I had big dreams of starting over in the US. Publish a novel. Maybe even start drawing again, though I hadn’t really sketched since high school. But then, all of a sudden, I was an orphan. And it crippled me. I dabbled with writing, but I didn’t create anything substantial. I couldn’t. I was too preoccupied with my own survival.

Three years later, I was blindsided by another senseless tragedy. I was pregnant with my first child when my brother passed away. I’d barely come up for air after losing my parents, and now with a baby on the way, how was I supposed to cope?

When my son was three months old, I found an old sketch pad and some mechanical pencils left over from my teenage years. With my head in a perpetual, sleep-deprived and grief-ridden fog, I couldn’t write, and I couldn’t focus on anything long enough to read, so I decided to try my hand at drawing again. I’d always loved portraits. The lighting, the larger-than-life features, the depth and intensity of the eyes. And as I studied them closely, easing my pencils through the endless valleys and ridges and slopes, shading and blending, teasing life from a blank page, everything in my own life fell away. For the first time since becoming intimately acquainted with loss, I found a refuge. In art.

It’s been a decade since that phone call. In the years since the birth of my son, I’ve published four books and drawn hundreds of portraits. I’ve come to believe that stories and images are some of the most sacred things we possess. They can suspend a moment. Bring someone back to life. Outlive memory.

My Etsy shop is a small way for me to a share a handful of my favorite pieces of beloved characters, musicians, and iconic faces with others. These are not just the products of whimsical talent; they are the result of thousands of hours spent creating, refining, struggling, and ultimately, healing.

Thank you so much for dropping by. For a full gallery of my work, please visit me on Instagram @sonjartsinger.

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  • Sonja


    I'm an artist, novelist, mom of two boys, and military wife. To me, there's nothing quite so magical–or healing–as giving a blank page life. Country music, good whiskey, porch swings, and books are pretty great too.

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