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Artist of the week: Graham Little

With their use of crayon and obsession with vintage fashion magazines, Little's female portraits take childhood obsession to virtuosic extremes

The women in Graham Little's virtuoso drawings inhabit a world of sumptuous beauty. Realised in a muted Merchant Ivory palette, these long-limbed belles recline gracefully in designer interiors. This is an 80s world of midnight-blue suits and earth-coloured bed sheets, of abandoned stilettos in burnt orange and mustard-yellow upholstery. Even when Little's exquisite handling of light hints at baroque painting, the contours of everything he depicts look downy-soft.

His sources are fashion bibles such as Vogue and Harpers and Queen, first encountered by the artist when he was a child. Each intensely detailed work is done in coloured crayon, taking him many months to complete. Thus, both medium and content hint at boyhood obsession. Some might detect echoes of Gainsborough's portraiture, and there is a certain still, timeless quality to Little's solitary souls – as if they're contemplating their lot. One of the artist's rare departures from fashion imagery is a 2008 triptych depicting his pregnant wife, her swollen belly echoed by a selection of balloons and round parcels, ready for a birthday party. But the picture nevertheless explores familiar territory: the subject is an object of strange fascination and, as always with Little's women, her introspective air resists even the most probing gaze.

Why we like him: In addition to his drawings, Little also makes MDF sculptures that resemble eccentric furniture, decorated with painted patterns culled from fashionable fabric and interior design.

Boy zone: Little first began drawing models from magazines owned by one of his childhood neighbours in Dundee, and began his sculpture career by painting the packaging of his friends' toys and displaying it on his bedroom shelves.

Where can I see him? Alison Jacques Gallery, London, until 18 December.


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