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With pencil and paper, Broomfield teen brings portraits to life

Woodard specializes in photorealist portraits using charcoal or graphite pencils, usually drawing inspiration from pictures of celebrities she sees on social media.
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Broomfield teen Malaya Woodard draws photorealist portraits using pencil and paper. Her work was recently on display at Brunner Farmhouse.

Malaya Woodard has been drawing for as long as she can remember. 

The Mountain Range High School junior and Broomfield teen was always artistic as a child, and her father, Corey, slowly started to teach her about shading, proportions and other skills. 

“I took off from there on my own,” Woodard said. “My dad’s a lot more into cartoons and colors, so I took that and made it my own – we have very different art styles.” 

For the Woodard family, art is a part of life. Woodard’s grandfather, Don, opened his own studio and gallery in Broomfield in 2018 after retiring from a career building exhibits for trade shows, visitor centers and halls of fame. He’s exhibited Malaya’s work at the gallery along with his own. 

“She never had any classes, any training,” he said. “I don’t know how she developed her skills. She was good enough to be in the gallery and then within another six months she went to another totally different level. It’s unbelievable.”

Malaya specializes in photorealist portraits using charcoal or graphite pencils, usually drawing inspiration from pictures of celebrities she sees on social media – portraits of Bruno Mars and Beyonce, Michael Jackson and Tupac that are so life-like they could be photographs. She hasn’t run out of inspiration yet, but is occasionally pressed for time. 

“It depends on my schedule because I really have to sit down because once you start you just have to go for a couple of hours,” she said. 

Malaya said she’s not sure if she wants to pursue art as a career because she also likes academics and is thinking of pursuing it further.

Don Woodard said his only hope is that his granddaughter never stops creating art, even just for her own enjoyment. 

“I know a lot of artists around the country, and nobody’s doing better portraits than she has been doing,” he said. 

Malaya’s work was recently on display at the Brunner Farmhouse and can also be viewed online.