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Suzanne Vigil on Combining Colored Pencil & Acrylic

Pensive, colored pencil and acrylic, by Suzanne Vigil, won the Shayna Heisman Simkin Award. (click for a larger image)

Our final Q&A from the “Contemporary Realism” exhibit is with Suzanne Vigil, who won the Shayna Heisman Simkin Award for Best in Show. We last talked to Suzanne this summer during her tour at the Torpedo Factory as a visiting artist. She told us about how she was starting to combine the two mediums she works in, colored pencil and acrylic, and you can see the results above.

Here’s what Suzanne had to say about this new direction:

As anyone who has worked in colored pencil knows … it’s tedious. I love working in a large format (24 x 36 or larger) but this requires at least a hundred hours dedicated to one piece. Ever worked twenty hours on a single button? I’m committed though and want to encourage those with patience to give it a whirl and keep your pencil points sharp … a real secret!

Pensive (detail), colored pencil and acrylic, by Suzanne Vigil.
Pensive (detail), colored pencil and acrylic, by Suzanne Vigil.

The figurative work I do is my passion and with each new “personality” I try to create a narrative back story just as an author develops a character. Nearly all of my drawings are composites and not taken from a single photograph. Often I’ll see a striking figure in an ad or on TV and use it as the base idea and concept. As I begin the drawing and the story develops, the figure takes on physical changes and mood. When I question the authenticity of a pose, I’ll take a photograph of someone in a similar position and use that as a reference.

This new mixed media of acrylic and colored pencil on frosted acetate was my first attempt at breaking out of that hyper-realistic technique, at least tempering it with loose brush strokes in the background. I’ve been experimenting with using only tones of warm and cold gray for some time but wanted to add a bright, unexpected color to contain it. The wide brush stroke to the background was a total “close my eyes and take take a leap of faith” move, encouraged by my fellow colored pencil pal Tracy in Chicago who has already mastered it. The actual scheme was colored pencil and acrylic on the front side with the brushwork on the back … another reason to love frosted acetate. I’m thinking there is a long road of trial and error ahead of me but I’m in it for the long haul!

“Contemporary Realism” is on view through Monday, October 6.

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