Who is Maria B? Discover the 20-year-old artist who reached London Grammar’s heart through her portraits.

Everyone who meets Maria remembers Maria. For her warm smile, and for this gentle, loving light in her eyes. It’s this light inside humans that Maria tries to reflect in the portraits she draws.

When I was three, when the nursery teacher asked me to draw on a white paper, I threw the paper in the air. The teacher laughed. When my brother was asked to draw, he drew a truck. “You’ve got an engineer!” the teacher told my mum. When Maria Bassil was asked to draw, the teacher didn’t laugh, nor smile. She said quietly to her mum: “Your daughter is an artist.” She was right.

Sixteen years later, on the 1st of September 2014, Maria drew three portraits of London Grammar’s band members, Ivor Novello awards winners and British indie pop sensation, ahead of their concert in Beirut, in three days.

She sent the drawings to Radio One station, which was sponsoring the concert. Radio One liked the portraits so much they agreed for Maria to meet the band personally to give them the drawings. After the concert, the 20-year-old artist met the band in person backstage and offered them their portraits. “It was like being in a dream…” This was only the start of a new journey for the young artist who follows architecture studies in the Lebanese American University.

Hannah Reid drawn by Maria Bassil.

Hannah Reid drawn by Maria Bassil.

After this event, Maria created a Facebook page, Maria Bassil Drawings where she shares the most recent portraits she drew, from her mum’s to her friends and other people who have marked her. Very quickly, she accumulated hundreds of followers and a waiting list for requests of hand-drawn portraits.

Maria’s portraits are simply drawn with a pencil. They reflect much more than what pictures can do. They capture with subtlety the personality of her subjects. Not only you see their face but you can also feel the love, the shyness, the humour, the pride of the characters.

Scroll down to see some of the latest portraits Maria has done, as well as an exclusive interview with the inspiring artist.

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What does drawing mean to you? How did it help you go through difficult personal times?

Drawing is like a smile, a beautiful language that everyone understands, it has no religion, no nationality, no borders or limits, no age! It’s universal!

It’s a symbol of freedom, a way of self-expression and escape from everyday’s problems.

Why do I draw?

Drawing is my passion, my way to express, to visualize and imagine things that don’t actually exist (talking about architectural drawings rather than portraits).

I draw to progress, to improve, it’s an ambition.

So I draw to get better,

I draw to have fun,

I draw to improve,

I draw to express,

I draw to escape.

For all kind of reasons…

If I get bored, or feel lonely, I draw!

Do you have a mentor you seek advice for in your drawings? Who is your harshest critic?

I’m a self-taught person, so I usually refer to the internet to solve a problem or seek an advice and most of the time I ask for my family’s opinion.

And I realized that my harshest critique is absolutely my dad, and my biggest support my mom.

How do you keep a smile on your face?

Every day is a new day, a new beginning, a gift. So I believe if I take a deep breath, smile, and start my day with one small positive thought, this could change my whole day.

I also learned to enjoy the little things and short moments no matter how bad yesterday was! My tip to keep a smile:

Think positive, live simply, dream big, be grateful, give love, laugh lots and most importantly put your favourite music, pick a pencil and DRAW!!

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