Charla is a Virginia artist who lives and works in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Her studio overlooks the rooftops of the historic town of Winchester. As a young child Charla spent countless hours in her room illustrating her own stories. She always loved pen and ink...the black ink on a white background was exciting to explore. Lettering was another area which became of interest and she participated in various calligraphy classes. She had the opportunity of a long distance class with calligrapher Michael Sull...often featured in Victoria magazine. However, she does not consider herself a traditional calligrapher but rather a graphic artist. Her work is definitely enfluenced by the lettering of the past, but Charla designs her own lettering to fit the word that she is illustrating.

Charla began her Name Portrait work with people names. She researched each name and used her findings as the basis of the design. Many of the names she chose had wonderful histories and often the meaning of the name was an inspiration for the design. After years of expanding her Name Portrait collection, Charla branched out to create more general words such as Santa, Quilt and Dream. She incorporated many varied quotations and pictures into her work. She also continued to research the history of selected words such as example of which is shown below.

Charla has had the privilege of completing many commissioned works including BACH for the family of Richard Bach, author of Jonathan Livingston Seagull. She also created a special Name Portrait for Queen Elizabeth and recently a special 3D picture for Cokie Roberts. Presently, Charla is researching the word SHENANDOAH for the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley in Winchester, Virginia. This special Name Portrait will trace the history of the valley and will be completed for the museum's fifth anniversary. Charla is also beginning work on the word SALEM for the museums of Old Salem, North Carolina. Name Portraits have been featured in Country Living Magazine and most recently in Southern Lady Magazine. Each Name Portrait begins in lettered pencil on illustration board. Charla then embellishes vintage picture pieces and creates her own drawings to fit into the lettering. Her other mediums are pen and ink, colored pencil and watercolor pen. Charla strives to tell a story with each picture and enjoys creating a treasure hunt of words and meaning within each Name Portrait.

Below you will see an example of the process of creating a traditional name portrait.

In researching CAT I was especially interested in the cat's Egyptian heritage. This wonderful history is the inspiration for this Traditional Name Portrait. This picture shows the first step in my design. I begin every portrait in pencil, basing the illustration on my research of the name. I work to have a good foundation for the rest of the Name Portrait.
This picture shows the next step in the process. I have added vintage collage and my pen and ink drawings to the design. All of the illustrations included have a meaning to the cat's Egyptian history. I changed the picture slightly to include the sun.
This picture shows the finished CAT. I have inked in the entire picture and added color and detail. I have worked to create the story of the cat in this Name Portrait. If you would be interested in ordering this Traditional Name Portrait please click here.

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Name Portraits by Charla
Charla Hayen
P.O. Box 334, Winchester, VA 22604
(540) 535-0515

© 2010, Charla Hayen