Chartiers Valley senior drawn to the art of caricatures
The blank sheet of paper was what initially fascinated Jordan Callahan, a senior at Chartiers Valley High School.
It wasn’t long before he took up his pen and pad and begin drawing caricatures himself.
“I’ve seen guys out at malls. They’re there and they create a face that looks like the person in four minutes and I was kind of amazed by it,” he said.
“I saw the blank canvas and without so much as even pencil lines, these guys go right into it, just drawing line after line, Usually as few lines as possible, to make an intricate piece of artwork that looks just like the subject. I was amazed by the speed and the quality of the work.”
A few years of art classes and countless hours of practice later, Callahan, 18, of Scott, draws caricatures though his website — caricaturesbycallahan.com — and has volunteered his time at Pittsburgh CureSearch Walk, which raises money for children’s cancer research.
Callahan said he became interested in drawing as a child when he would trace figures and faces from comic books.
During grade school, he began taking art lessons from Becky Mayhew at her studio in Cecil.
“From there on out, I kept practicing and went through paper after paper and went through a lot of markers. I think all that practice helped me find my own style, helped me to have a better sense of the face and how I should draw it,” he said.
“I think the combination of her lessons and a lot of practice helped to get me where I am.”
In the summer of 2014, he created a website to promote his work and since has performed at parties, libraries, theaters and even the high school prom as a sophomore.
“I figured I would contact the prom committee and ask them if I could come in and caricature there. They welcomed the idea. … It went really well.”
Mayhew said Callahan can now consider himself a professional caricature artist.
“He was eager to learn and showed great promise as an artist. He always had a great sense of humor and amused me with his comic illustrations and story lines for his cartoon characters.”
Callahan said he’s developed his own method of drawing caricatures, which takes the performance aspect of the art into account.
“I usually start by getting the shape of the head first so I can have a foundation and then I’ll get the hair next, then I’ll start with the eyebrows, the nose, the mouth. At first it looks a little weird because I leave the eyes out for last.
“Caricaturing is really putting on a show; it’s a form of entertainment. Eyes really create the likeness of the person you’re drawing. If you save that for last, it keeps the people watching you and waiting in line in suspense.”
His personal sketchbook features Marilyn Monroe, Robin Williams and Pittsburgh Pirate Andrew McCutcheon with long dreadlocks.
“Unfortunately, ‘Cutch’ cut his hair after I drew it.”
After graduating from high school next year, Callahan plans to study to be a teacher.
But he won’t put down his pen and paper.
“I really do enjoy caricaturing. I love it a lot, I want to keep it, too, as a business in the future but I don’t want it to be the main thing,” he said. “As for now, it’s something that I love and if I can make money for college that would help.”
David Mayernik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.