Opening The Window To The Soul

By Charelle Evelyn on November 16 2016

If you think you’re hiding your bad day behind a smile, chances are Erin Filan sees right through you. “I think I connect to people’s emotions and behaviours more on a deeper level than the face value,” said Filan, who for the past three years has been putting those inner struggles to paper.

But just because her pencil and charcoal drawings seem to showcase a mood often described as “dark,” Filan isn’t a morbid person. Rather, she’s a realist who taps into human emotion as opposed to pouring her own psyche on the page, finding physically dark spaces – where light is absent – soothing and opportunities for reflection. “Talking about emotions and being an emotional drawer to me are two different things,” she said. “I think understanding emotion and putting that understanding on to paper is how I draw compared to drawing my emotion.”


Thanks to posting her work on social media and now on her website,, Filan has commissions for portraiture coming in from around the world.

It keeps the mother of two (who works at a bank during the day) busy in her downtime, plotting meticulous pencil lines that seem to shape images from neither grid nor logical progression. While most people would be upset by coal in their Christmas stocking, Filan is perfectly content with hers getting weighed down by charcoal and pencil lead. Superstitiously, she has used the same green mechanical pencil for every piece for the past three years.

But don’t bother buying her an eraser. Any errant pencil marks either have to be incorporated into the piece or Filan starts over – even if she’s already put in multiple hours of work.

A doodler in high school, Filan put down the pencil for nearly 20 years, letting post-secondary school, a career and family take precedence. But she jumped back in a few years ago and with her first exhibition at Two Rivers Gallery under her belt, Filan is slowly coming around to the idea of being a “self-proclaimed artist.”

From the Outside In ran for a month beginning June 11 and it was a process that was both nerve-wracking and humbling for Filan, who had begun by holding her work to the public eye via Facebook and had never publicly stood in front of it.

“I almost felt a little vulnerable because a lot of these feelings, even though they may be so generic or even universal across the board, a lot of people won’t admit they feel this way so they’re going to interject the drawings onto my own personality,” said Filan. “So they’re going to be like ‘Oooh, Erin’s got problems.’ When actually I don’t have a problem but we all have one. I’m just choosing to talk about it.”




Journalist, west coast native, music lover. Made in Canada.

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