Sydney M. Pertl

is creating Giant realist drawings in charcoal - and anything and everything

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About Sydney M. Pertl

It's taken me a while to decide how best to plot the course of my own life, but I have always known what I have wanted: to one day find myself in an existence where I can live through what I love - my art fueled by my life, and my life fueled by art.

Patreon is a place to contribute to the work, lives and dreams of the creators you love! Want to see more work and more frequently? Each and every monthly pledge, big or small, show your support for the artwork I make, allow me to devote more time and energy to its creation, ensure I have all the supplies needed for current pieces, and let me focus on producing more work for you to see! Donate to become a part of all my artworks to come; for instance, your pledge could easily supply me with the charcoals used to draw your future favorite artwork!

Thank you for your all your support, you (yes, you!) make my dreams possible

Want to know more? Read on!

    WHAT I DO     

My work centers around the human form: not just what you can see when you look at someone - the planes of their face, the waves of their hair, but beyond that, in to all the feelings, thoughts and all the passions which lie in wait beneath.

Anatomy has always interested me, and the idea of humans as complex machines intrigues and frightens me. Where do all these emotions - the writhing of jealousy, the weight of guilty, the flutters of excitement, or vast changing tides of love - come from? How can one not just express these, but actually steal away with the hearts, minds, and imaginations of casual viewer, transporting them to these emotional planes of existence with just one glance? And futhermore, how is this possible when only rendering that which can be seen? All this and more I seek to understand and demonstrate through my art. 


Over a decade of my life has been dedicated to the study of classical figure art, and I have been lucky enough to have studied under many of the greatest contemporary classical figure artists as well as for three years in an atelier, spending more than forty hours a week in a group studio, embarking on the rigorous exercises used by artists from the renaissance through the turn of the century. Rendering the classical through portrait and nude study had been by life's work, and it was both a calming and meditative experience. Concurrently, when confronted with thoughts or ideas which I felt compelled to explain through my artwork, I turned to illustration with pen, ink and watercolor.

Beginning on Valentine's Day 2013, the stability of my life took a turn for the worse, the disasters exponentially growing in both magnitude and frequency, culminating in a breaking point in both my life and my work. A water main exploded in December of 2013, flashflooding my fourth story apartment, and annihilating everything I owned and had known.

Though the repercussions were catastrophic and far reaching (even to this day), the most important way it changed my life was for the better; the packing paper and tape meant to pack my water logged belongings was tacked insteadto the bare white walls of my temporary housing, and I began to draw. More importantly, I began to find what I never knew I was looking for: a path.

These drawings are raw emotions, memories of moments that stuck with me, and they are drawn without reference to any models, photographs, or life drawings. The drawings that have been made since then use only what was left to me in the nothingness: the memories and feelings that I clung to, a life preserver in a tsunami. They are absolutely real, they are absolutely fantasy, and they are entirely the Truth as I know it to be. 


Honestly, I'm still trying to understand this myself. To me, they are the only way I know how to make sense of and come to terms with extremely traumatic circumstances, and the only way I know how to express myself, calm down, and begin to disentangle my thoughts, which I often find knotted up and snarled in even through the course of a normal day. Anything I can put on paper is something I can work and rework until I can understand the what, the why, and the how. In understanding, there is calm; in each completed drawing, a weight lifted.

I realize that every artist will say that their art is meaningful to the world, but I don't think I'm qualified to speak to the thoughts of others on this. What I can say is that this is the first time I have ever made art for myself. As a classical figure artist, you're trained to either render what you see before you, or to (sometimes sensibly) idealize a portrait, especially if commissioned portraiture is how you can afford to pursue the classical nude, pay your rent, or choose whether or not you were able to eat all your meals. This art was not made for you. Quite frankly, this art was the only art I've ever made for me. I was never intending for these emotional timepieces to be shown. In fact, they weren't even supposed to be finished pieces. To me, the importance lies in the long journey the piece represents.

However, when shown, the reaction of others was shocking. People got angry, people cried, people started talking to each other about important things - events in their own lives that hurt or healed them. Some people withdrew into themselves, and others couldn't confront them. These responses to my work were so strong and vehement in both action and reaction that I now an coming to realize that it does means something to others as well. 

If it means something to you, in any way, please let me know. Write in my guest book (below) to let me know how you are affected or donate to support my life's work. By donating even a dollar, you are part of it too.


Like almost every artist here, the more money I can raise for my art through my art, the more time I have to make art. Right now, my choices are these (and yes, they're very real and present and I have done all of these things):

-Work a high paying but mentally and emotionally draining job in order to keep a roof over my head and be able to once in a while throw whatever stores of energy I have left over in to my art in the middle of the night, and only when I'm able to leave work at work (difficult if you're invested and committed to what you do) and remember what I'm actually doing it all for. 

-Work a low paying, unstimulating job which leaves my mind free for drawing, but probably requires more physical exertion and/or more hours on the job in order to keep a roof over my head and be able to once in a while throw whatever stores of energy I have left over in to my art whenever I can power through the exhaustion to draw until my body physically collapses, disregarding my pure power of will.

-Work only artwork, grant writing, self promotion, and show submissions knowing that one has less than 45 days until absolute eviction. Requires almost constant prayer for a miracle, but is generally a rather blissful experience as it can only be achieved when one absolutely cannot survive without the ability to create and is willing to give up everything, including any semblance of a future, just to live as one knows that they were meant - if only to have had six weeks of living in perfect happiness.

And believe you me, my art is not two hours of painting with a glass of wine. My art is not an after school special. When I'm working, truly working, days and nights pass without ever being noted. I lose myself to it, I'm in it, and it's rarely ever somewhere one wants to be. In order to come to terms with these emotions bourne of traumas and tragedies -- so strong in their presence that they even manifest physically, in an inability to breathe, a racing mind I cannot quiet, a knot in my stomach, a dread that can only be confronted in understanding in order to conquer -- I am returning to places, people, feelings, and moments that cannot simply bandage and forget. In my art, I am returning to a hell that time has, at least, allowed me escape. I throw myself into my work until I cannot physically stand, sit, or lift a brush in order to recover all that I have lost among the levels of my own inferno......... an undertaking which cannot be relegated to the two hours before my alarm for my day job as a underpaid service worker could ever permit. In addition, I get dirty, and I mean, REALLY, REALLY dirty. My artwork is, unfortunately for me, not conducive to any other lifestyle besides... well, making art.

I hope to prove that there is still a place for creatives in our fast paced and all too quantifiable world. Your dollar means the world to me, because it's another minute that I have to work on this art instead of having to dedicate to any form of making a living by other means -- if I had enough donors, art could be my living and not just my purpose.

I was born with the desire and drive to make art; I have dedicated myself to training in technique and form; through tragedy, I finally found my voice. What could possibly be missing? Those factors together are a gift I never thought to have for myself, nor did I ever speculate on what it would be like to have them, muchless have them and not be able to use them. Time, the only missing piece, the only thing, for me, which can be measured in currency. What time means to me: not worrying about one's certainty of having shelter or food or running water.

Sure, it would be really nice to also have a treehouse, a batmobile, and a personal drumline, but they are all inconsequential to what would make me truly happy and fulfilled in this life (which if I haven't said it enough, it is, and always has been, making my art). My ultimate goal would be the ability to devote myself part time to my artwork, which means cutting down the hours of my day job. This would mean I am looking for a way that my art could pay for half of my life: $650 per month would mean half of my rent, my food, my utilities, and my very basic necessities are paid. 
$4.33 of $25 per month
If I could make 25 dollars each month, this amount would ensure that I would consistently have the amount of vine charcoal, soft pastels, and charcoal to complete at least one medium sized (~ 4'x3' drawing) or multiple large (~5x8) sketches and drafts each month ... no matter what! :) How awesome would that be? Perhaps this doesn't seem like a lot of money, but when one works on a commissioned basis, finances are pretty variable month to month. Nothing is worse than needing to get an idea down on paper, but then having to use far less ideal mediums (markers, harder charcoal, fingerpaints, haha) - basically, things that are not so free flowing or tactiley. My first goal is definitely to make enough to have consistency in the influx of the art supplies which are, of course, pretty integral to the making of my work :)
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