Artist Puts Heart and Soul into Portraiture


Creativity sparks joy. For Fran Megerdichian, her lifelike animal portraits combined with her warm personality is the heartfelt way she shares kindness with others. “I want to bring others joy with my hand and my heart to bring their animal to life, and bring good energy to the world and anybody who has an interaction with me,” says Megerdichian, a longtime North Salem resident. “I’m very proud of the work I do and I’m most proud I’ve left something on this earth that’s brought somebody joy.”

A self-taught artist with no formal training, Megerdichian specializes in commissioned custom pet portraiture, and occasional people portraits. “I’m very selective. I want to do my best because I know people love their animals and I want to exceed my client’s expectations,” she said. “In today’s digital world the art of doing something by hand is dying, so I’m almost protective of it and it’s very special. When I give a portrait to my client they know a lot of handwork and love went into it to create a portrait of the pet they love(d).”

Each portrait takes between 10-18 hours. To provide depth and dimension while creating a soft appearance, Megerdichian works in dry medium, including colored and pastel pencil, graphite, and charcoal pencil and uses high-quality Italian paper. “I’m a perfectionist and I have a lot of control with dry media. I can easily change something, apply another layer as I’m working, blend colors, and work with the image while it’s evolving,” she said, noting most clients choose color but she prefers black and white. “It’s so classic and can be very intimate and very detailed and beautiful on its own. With color there’s a lot to take in.”

For reference, Megerdichian uses about 50 photographs taken at various angles and in different lighting. If possible, she prefers taking the photographs herself. “My client knows their animal, so the details are important. When the owner takes the photo their pet is looking at them with a lot of love and I need to capture that,” she explains. She then builds the life-like image, paying attention to the eyes and facial expression. “The juices get flowing when I start to see the realistic two-dimensional object pop off the page. That’s where I get the passion.”

As a young child, Megerdichian was always scribbling on anything she could find. “In kindergarten, one of my teachers mentioned I might have some talent because I was doing things a bit neater and more realistic. Then in third grade, a teacher said I should develop my talent,” she said, but as life intervened with marriage, children, and a career in the corporate world, her art fell by the wayside. “I’m in a unique position where I can straddle both worlds and try to get each to complement the other.” She never intended to turn her art into a business until she started giving animal portraits to friends as holiday gifts.

To hone her talent, Megerdichian has studied with world-renowned clinicians and continues to attend professional artist workshops. “I’m a lifelong learner. I like learning more about art and how to create beautiful things,” she said. “Being around others who are creating is a wonderful place to be. They inspire me and I learn about new techniques around blending, new tools.”

Megerdichian was also an adjunct professor at Pace University, teaching Introduction to Drawing. “I enjoyed teaching people how to draw. Everybody can create and everybody can draw. It’s innate that we have creativity in us,” she noted, encouraging people to think of when they drew as a child. “You were very free. Moms would put our artwork on the fridge. There was no criticism. There’s cave paintings from 20,000 years BC. So I tell people who say, ‘I can’t draw a stick figure,’ yes, you can. It’s a skill that can be taught. If you kept at it the skills would have built.”

Megerdichian’s artwork gives her purpose and fulfillment. “It’s a treasure for the people I give my portraits to so that brings me so much pleasure. I want them to know when I do a piece it’s with everything that I have,” she said. “Leaving a legacy makes me feel good – bringing beauty to someone’s home or to someone’s heart.”

For more information, visit: or follow her on Instagram @franmpencilartist

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