A flair for faces: ERHS senior Weathlerly is a pencil portrait machine

Cayla Weatherly, an A-plus student who'll major in neuroscience, displays 10 of per portrait drawings. (Photo by Bruce Strand)
Elk River senior Cayla Weatherly, an A-plus student who’ll major in neuroscience, displays 10 of per portrait drawings. (Photo by Bruce Strand)


by Bruce Strand, Arts editor

The uniqueness of each person’s face is what fascinates Cayla Weatherly as a high school artist, and the Elk River senior has become remarkably proficient at structuring portraits in a short time.

Her accurate graphite drawings of actresses Jennifer Lawrence and Emma Stone in the school’s display case attracted attention and favorable comment last fall. Her rendition of singer Lady Gaga was recognized as ERHS’s best entry in North Hennepin Community College’s high school art show last month.

Cayla's best-reviewed portrait is Lady Gaga.
Cayla’s best-reviewed portrait is Lady Gaga.

“Cayla is a patient artist,” said Rana Nestrud, her art teacher. “She has honed her skills with blending, and develops a full range of values in her portraits.  I have had Cayla in art classes over the years, and I feel this is her shining moment.”

At the Star News request, Weatherly and Nestrud presented a portfolio of about a dozen celebrity portraits and one African orphan for a photo Wednesday.

“In class we recently took on the Memory Project,” said Nestrud, referring to a global initiative of drawing portraits of teen orphans from Haiti. “Cayla has decided to build her AP Studio art concentration around this topic.”

Weatherly took up portraits just last year. Before that she “just doodled.” Her first attempt at a portrait in Drawing I didn’t turn out well. “So after that, I just started focusing on what they look like and what was there, and to develop my technique.”

Other kids may be painting kitties or flowers or landscapes, or spinning pottery pieces, but Cayla sticks to drawing portraits.

“Even though we all have facial features, we are all different in unique ways,” she said, “and i just like to capture that.”

She favors female celebrities — Jessica Chastain, Marilyn Monroe, and Adele are among the subjects she displayed — largely because it’s easy to find glamorous photos of them. She did draw herself and her sister, too, for their parents.

Asked if she has a favorite drawing, Weatherly, said, “I like them all, but a lot of people seem to like my Lady Gaga (which) I made for my sister.”

All the portrays she displayed were black-and-white graphite drawings Jessica Chastain’s with colored pencil. As for working with color,  Weatherly said for now she enjoys graphite just fine but might move on to acrylic or oil at some point. After all she’s only been doing this less than two years.
You won’t find Weatherly sitting around drawing all day, through. Sh, all black-and-white graphite drawings except one of Jessica Chastain with colored pencile is also an outstanding student (above 4.0) and plans to major in neuroscience, the study of the brain, and the University of Minnesota. She will continue in art as a hobby, maybe pick up a commission here and there, perhaps make some medical drawings while in college.