'How Sad, How Lovely, by Isabella K Cancino

Isabella K. Cancino (b.1995) is a self taught graphite artist who lives and creates her work in Riverside, CA. Her process begins by taking inspiration from the things she loves: classic literature, jazz, history, and architecture. Also, the human experience, our emotions and curiosity. Our mortality and ever-growing knowledge. Isabella uses her many characters to tell a continuous story that plays with personal emotions and lonely themes and narratives. Cancino creates a body of work that she hopes both children and adults can relate to, sympathise with, and even laugh with at times.

“My whole life, I’ve always drawn. I’ve always been mesmerised by the idea of being able to communicate an emotion or concept without verbally doing so. I chose graphite because I needed something deep but affordable. The graphite provided a sense of depth—given how smooth and rich I could make the values. I fell in love with the simplicity of graphite when I realised all I ever needed was a slightly textured surface, good paper, and a fine pencil to start. I could have my studio with me at any time of the day or night.”

Isabella never studied art but taught herself with the same slow patience and great care with which she makes each of her drawings. She insists on sitting in a dark corner, at her desk surrounded by pencil shavings, sketches, and some of her favourite books. “I begin sketching different ideas on tracing paper, and once completed, I usually arrange the little bits and pieces of the sketches into a cohesive piece. Most of the time, they all fit together like a puzzle. I then use a window or my light box and trace them onto my drawing paper. Once that is completed, I figure out where my values will be placed before making small scratchy swirls all over the paper and covering them in graphite as if I were a printer. My process isn’t complicated at all. I enjoy the simple process, it reminds me of drawing as I did when I was a child.”

‘How Sad, How Lovely’ is a collection of work drawn during a time of uncertainty. A period of time where much time was given to sit with oneself and think. To overthink yesterday, to anticipate today, and to worry about tomorrow. Each of the works in the exhibition holds the mutual and temporary feeling of dismay, but only the dismay of that day. The works on paper leave room for interpretation, hope, and optimism. For one can imagine that nothing is set in stone as they are only drawings of untold and unfinished stories. Just as the clocks keep ticking and the bells keep fading once they’ve rung... do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries, today’s trouble is enough for today. It’s sad, but it’s lovely.