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Local Artist Shares His Talent During Holiday Festival

November 15, 2019 9:31 a.m.

  • Schubert's 2018 Santa sketch entitled “He’s Checking it Twice.”

Jon Schubert has been drawing for as long as he can remember.

“I’ve always had this desire to recreate things that I like on paper,” he said. When he was five years old, that meant recreating his favorite cartoon characters and at first, he didn’t care who drew them. “I would ask my mother to draw them and she would give it the old college try,” he said. However, Schubert thought he could do better so he picked up a pencil and quickly uncovered his God-given talent.

Schubert remembers his mother was quite stunned after seeing the picture he had completed after pausing the TV to capture a cartoon character on paper. “I think I was five at the time,” he said. From that point forward, Schubert said he drew all the time. “I had notebooks and notebooks filled with character drawings. Looking back, I used ink and markers and if I made a mistake I would start over. I was sort of a perfectionist and I wanted it to be as accurate as possible, so I would have an entire notebook of a particular Batman or Ninja Turtle pose,” he said. “I think it helped me hone some of my skills, because I would draw things over and over.”

With a keen eye for detail, Schubert evolved as a portrait artist as he got older though his talent took a back seat to other business ventures for several years. Two years ago, he decided to return to his first love to work full-time as a commission portrait and sketch artist. “Once I secured a few ongoing opportunities that would help pay the bills, that’s when I realized that I could make it work as an artist,” he said.

While the holidays are his busiest season, Schubert is excited to create an original Santa pencil sketch to be auctioned during Sarah Bush Lincoln’s Holiday Festival Gala for the third time. This year’s drawing entitled, “Only Santa Knows,” depicts a young child confiding all his Christmas wishes in Santa.

Schubert was thrilled when his first Santa drawing garnered the “dream price” of $500 in the silent auction in 2017. In 2018, Schubert attended the Gala where he entertained those in attendance by adding the final touches to his drawing on site and it sold for $875 in the live-auction. Schubert is currently working on this year’s 14 x 17 original Santa drawing from his Charleston home office. He plans to attend the Gala where he will add the final touches to his drawing before it is auctioned off.

“I, like most artists, am naturally introverted, but it’s fun to come out and have people watch while I work,” he said. “I’m happy for the opportunity to give back to a great cause.”

Schubert is mostly self-taught though he took a few art classes at Eastern Illinois University while studying graphic design. He has never forgotten one valuable lesson he received from a professor. “He told me if you’re going to do realism, you have to draw what you see and not what you know. For example, the white part of the eye is almost never white because there’s always a shadow cast from the brow,” he said. In his portraits, Schubert has a way of capturing even subtle details with just pencil and paper, as well as the essence of each subject.

He tries to incorporate his Christian faith into his work as well. Recently, he’s begun asking people who commission his work if there’s anything they’d like him to pray about while he works on their project. “The reaction is varied, but some people are very touched by this request,” he said. He considers his talent as a gift from God, and has decided that it’s time for others to enjoy it.

Schubert attends various festivals throughout the area, where he offers low-cost quick sketches to detailed premium sketches from photographs that take from five to 30 hours to complete. He also does portrait drawings for Schilling Funeral Home in Mattoon and provides sketching services to some assisted living facilities. More information is available on his website

For more information about the Holiday Festival, contact Kim Lockart, event coordinator, at 217-258-2511 or go to