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Q&A with Suzanne Vigil: “Evening in Paris”

Evening in Paris, colored pencil on frosted Mylar, by Suzanne Vigil. Winner of the Marker Award in the May All-Media Exhibit. (click for full size)

The last time we featured painter and colored pencil artist Suzanne Vigil on this blog, she was fresh off a solo exhibit in the Gallery and an award for the April 2013 “Flora & Fauna” exhibit. In that interview, she told us about a narrative, character-based series called “Labels.”

This time around, Vigil has a new award — the Marker Award for Best in Show in the May All-Media Exhibit — and a new direction in her colored pencil work:

Is this part of the “Labels” series? What are you working on now?
Suzanne Vigil: Evening in Paris is the beginning of a new series I’m developing with colored pencil.

I continue to use frosted mylar and work both sides of the film. I arrived at this new limited color concept as I was organizing my many boxes of pencils. I noticed there was a enormous variety of grays. Warm grays, cold grays and French grays. As a colored pencil artist, I use multiple layers of colors to achieve tones and wondered if I could convert that concept to gray. Rather than use a lighter hand to do highlights as you would with graphite, I selected a specific gray (20%, 40%, 60%) to arrive at that tone. What a surprise! I maintained the same hand pressure but got the lights and darks I was looking for.

Detail from Evening in Paris
Detail from Evening in Paris

I separated my grays into warm for skin tones and cold for clothing and background. This pushed the effect even further and gave a greater sense of animate versus inanimate. As I studied the drawing, I recalled the bottle of Evening in Paris perfume my mother kept on her 1950s skirted dressing table. The bottle was deep blue. All those memories are faded now which prompted me toward the other component of this drawing, the slightly tinted areas on the face and the bottle. Just a “suggestion” of color.

I think of this, and the others which will follow, as a black and white drawings. The color, which is applied primarily to the backside of the mylar, is a subtle reminder to the viewer of a time past.

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