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Madison-based, self-taught artist Kristin Shafel recently returned to drawing after many years as a musician. Kristin lived in Kansas City, Missouri for more than a decade, where she earned music composition degrees, worked in arts marketing and publicity in higher education, was an editor and writer for a leading local online arts journal, and performed as a freelance double bassist. Kristin relocated back to Madison, her hometown, in 2018 after two years abroad in Singapore, where she had the opportunity to devote her attention to drawing. In addition to her visual arts pursuits, Kristin is currently a bassist with the Middleton Community Orchestra and a charter member of Kinnor Philharmonic (Kansas City).

Kristin’s photorealistic graphite pencil drawings focus closely on a meaningful physical gesture or a particularly significant facial expression. Through the intimacy and delicacy of black-and-white portraiture she strives for connection between viewer, subject, and herself. Family and friends are central to her work, and music profoundly inspires her as well. As a conservatory-trained musician, capturing on paper the musicians she admires satisfies and motivates her to continue to express herself through portraiture and music-making.

After we had admired her art for some time, my husband commissioned Kristin to draw our sons’ portraits. Kristin used separate photos of the boys to seamlessly merge two special memories together. We were immediately in awe of the attention to detail. Every hair on their heads is perfectly placed. The saying that the days are long but the years are short is so true. As our boys get a little older each day, we are so grateful to Kristin for capturing the essence of our boys during their toddler years.
— Jessica H.