Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman's courtroom sketch artist says she drew them authentically — 'warts and all'

Suzy Byrne
Editor, Yahoo Entertainment

There were no cameras in court when Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman faced the judge for their alleged roles in a massive college admissions scheme, but the public did get the next best thing: courtroom sketches.

Felicity Huffman in court on Tuesday, as captured by freelance illustrator Mona Shafer Edwards, who has covered trials of stars, including Michael Jackson, Gwyneth Paltrow and O.J Simpson. (Image: Mona Shafer Edwards/Reuters)

The colorful illustrations were immediately shared all over the internet. Artist Mona Shafer Edwards’s renderings depicted a weary-looking Huffman — awoken Tuesday by seven FBI agents with guns drawn at the family home she shares with actor William H. Macy and taken into custody — shrinking in her seat behind her fellow defendants.

A day later, Loughlin — who had the luxury of negotiating her surrender — was captured with full hair and makeup, glam but with defiant demeanor. They were “very, very different,” Edwards tells Yahoo Entertainment of Loughlin and Huffman during their days in court. “Totally different attitude, expression and the way that the body was held.”

The Fuller House actress (also commonly referred to as her character, Aunt Becky) had her arms crossed — and they stayed that way the whole time she was in court. “Kind of a defensive deflection like, Don’t touch me. What am I doing here? Where are my people? When am I getting out? It was so defiant,” says the freelance artist, who regularly covers court cases, often for ABC News. “Loughlin came off, and I think it showed in my drawings, a little arrogant. An illustrator can bring that out maybe more than a camera. However, I wasn’t being subjective. I was just drawing what I saw.” She adds: “The way people stand, their body language, their attitude — it all plays a part in an illustration.”

Lori Loughlin came off as “defiant” and “a little arrogant” in her courtroom appearance on Wednesday, according to sketch artist Mona Shafer Edwards. (Image: Mona Shafer Edwards/Reuters)

As for her outfit, Loughlin — who, along with her husband, Mossimo Giannulli, allegedly paid a $500,000 bribe to get their two daughters, including social media influencer Olivia Jade, into University of Southern California — dressed in a white turtleneck, which Edwards described as “like the good guy kind of thing. Her hair was perfectly styled, but it covered half of her face. And she wore the glasses. It was all kind of covering up.”

On the other hand, Huffman was arrested and brought right to court and looked worse for wear. “She didn’t have the time element Loughlin had,” Edwards notes. “So obviously she didn’t have time to call a makeup artist and say, ‘Hey, can you make me look great for court today.’” And where Loughlin was “defiant,” Huffman was sheepish, Edwards says. The Desperate Housewives actress, who allegedly paid $15,000 to falsify her older daughter’s SAT score, sat behind another defendant “so nobody could really see her. She had her head down most of the time until her name was called.”

This sketch depicts Huffman partially hidden behind some of the others. (Image: Mona Shafer Edwards/Reuters)

Overall, Edwards says, “I think Huffman was more authentic and genuine.” Edwards admits she was “kind of concerned about the Loughlin drawing. I was thinking I made her too stern. But that’s what she looked like. There’s this thin line about whether I want to please the public and draw something [they’d like to see] or draw something warts and all, and I choose [the latter].”

Sketching William H. Macy while thisclose to him

Among the four drawings Edwards did when Huffman was in court on Tuesday was one of the actress’s husband, Macy. Turns out she got incredibly up close and personal while doing it because the Shameless star was seated next to her. And yes, she says, his brows were that unruly.

“Since I draw a lot of celebrities, marshals and sheriffs know I will never bother a celebrity. I’ll never ask for an autograph or photo like some of my colleagues do. It’s rude,” she says. So on Tuesday, a marshal called her to the side and said they wanted to seat Macy next to her “because they know that I would respect him.” (While Macy was referred to in the criminal complaint for the massive scam, he wasn’t arrested.)

But she also had a job to do — and that involved drawing his wife. “I said hello. He said hello,” she recalls. “Then I started drawing — and I’m drawing his wife — while he’s sitting literally 3 inches from me.” Oh, and she also drew him. “The sketch of him, he’s literally touching shoulders with me,” she says. But he defused any awkwardness. “He leaned over and said, ‘You are really good.’ I said, ‘Thank you.’”

The subject in this drawing, William H. Macy, is closer than he appears. Edwards sketched this in court on Tuesday as he sat next to her with only 3 inches between them. (Image: Mona Shafer Edwards/Reuters)

There was a tense moment when another sketch artist tapped Macy on the shoulder and asked, “‘Uh, would you tell me who your wife is?’ He said, ‘I will not.’” Edwards apologized for her contemporary’s behavior. “At that point, he was like my friend.”

Edwards says Macy had books with him and was reading until Huffman had to speak to the judge. “When his wife stood up and was talking, he of course looked very intense and emotional,” she remembers. When the proceedings were over, “He said, ‘Thank you for drawing me.’ I said, ‘I wish it was in a different situation — someplace else.’ And I wished him all the best. He put his hand on my shoulder, thanked me and said to have a good day. It was a very pleasant and respectful kind of a thing.”

Lori Loughlin or … Melania Loughlin?

Social media had lots of opinions about the sketches, which were made into memes — and even bags. Most of the commentary centered around Loughlin — her stance, her glasses, her hair.

“I do regular murders, kidnappings, stalkers. I have a lot of clients — national, international,” says Edwards, who has a background in fashion, which she says helps with her sketches. “But the moment it’s a celebrity, it’s crazy. The internet blows up. People are calling, writing and asking the funniest questions because it’s never about the crime. It’s always about what they were wearing, what they looked like and their makeup. It happens all the time — from Lindsay Lohan’s Louboutin shoes,” which Edwards documented in 2010, “to Nicole Richie’s sunglasses,” in 2007, “to Winona Ryder’s outfits” during her shoplifting trial in 2002.

Loughlin’s husband, Mossimo Giannulli, was also arrested on Tuesday and was sketched by Edwards. (Image: Mona Shafer Edwards /Reuters)

Some other commenters thought Loughlin looked like first lady Melania Trump in her sketch, with one dubbing her “Melania Loughlin.” While Edwards found that “funny,” she adds, “That didn’t even dawn on me. Maybe because of the turtleneck — Melania wears a lot of turtlenecks.”

‘What I did to Gwynnie was terrible’

Edwards doesn’t read online comments about her sketches since she got a lot of hate for the one she did of Gwyneth Paltrow in 2016. “It was a stalking case and she came into court without a stitch of makeup — no lipstick, eye, cheek,” she recalls of the Goop founder and actress. “She wore a beige turtleneck and beige pants. She was a symphony of beige. And she was crying on the stand, and her nose was red and her eyes were puffy.”

She continues, “I had a dilemma: Do I draw her as that or do I draw her as the glamorous person you see in magazines? I stayed true to myself and drew her like I saw her. Well, let me tell you, the next day I was basically excoriated on Daily Mail online. All of these people were calling on me to be fired. They said what I did to Gwynnie was terrible. All these horrible comments about my work. I decided I can’t read any of this this. I don’t want to be upset by it.”

But not all feedback has been bad. Believe it or not, the folks at Louboutin were happy to see a pair of their shoes included in Edwards’s Lohan sketch. So happy, in fact, she “got a letter/email from [Christian Louboutin’s] studio praising me for putting the shoes in,” she says. “So really it is all about fashion.”

Edwards has an incredible portfolio — with many sketches featured in her book Captured!: Inside the World of Celebrity Trials — including Michael Jackson, O.J. Simpson, Robert Blake and Kendall Jenner. She recalls Jackson’s 2005 molestation trial as being especially draining.

“I was there for several weeks and sitting close to him, so I could see him,” she says. “He had absolutely a blue pallor. He was blue.” Edwards was “blown away” by the “ceremonial uniforms he wore with epaulets and gold braiding — and just the majesty that he sort of carried around.” She’ll never forget all his different wigs. “People would say, ‘Oh, look, he cut his hair.’ I said, ‘No, no.’ He just had short wigs and long wigs.”

She adds, “That was not a pleasant trial for me. It was a lot of circus connected to it. It made me unhappy. Anything with children — that’s just evil and brutal.”

Trade secrets of a courtroom sketch artist

Edwards says she does her drawings on a 9 x 12 inch pad, and each one takes about 15 minutes with color. And she’s never used pencil or an eraser. “I work straight pen and marker,” she notes.

The way she describes it, she takes a mental snapshot of what she’s going to draw. “It’s like the pen follows my brain,” she says. While some courtroom sketches have the judge’s bench or the state seal in the background, she doesn’t think that’s important. “I focus on the person who I’m sketching. My work is very fluid and light.”

As for how she picks the moment in the proceedings that she’s going to sketch: “I call that an aha moment. We always wait for a defining moment,” she says, adding with a laugh, “Someone collapsing is always great.”

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