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Realism, Storytelling & Painterly Portraits: Artist Gretchen Evans Parker

As a self-taught colored pencil artist, Gretchen Evans Parker often works “outside the box”. She has been a signature member of the Colored Pencil Society in America for over ten years. Recently she was appointed as a juried member for the International Guild of Realism and is a certified Ann Kullberg Soar teacher. 

Could you tell us briefly about your background as an artist?

“My art juices began flowing at a very young age thanks to the Saturday Evening Post’s Rockwell covers. I spent hours studying them, intrigued by their detail and their story. As a young teenager, unbeknownst to my parents, I sent an application drawing to The Famous Artist School founded in the 1940s by Albert Dorne and Norman Rockwell. Mom and Dad were not impressed when a sales representative from the school came knocking at our door with a hard sales pitch. They knew I needed a “real job” (art was not a real job in the 1960s) and sent me to college for occupational therapy (OT).

Throughout the years of my career and family life, I continued to study and practice in my spare time. After our children were raised I had time to ply my skills and experiment with various mediums. None of them met my drive to create the fine detail I craved, until I came across professional-grade colored pencils (CP). In ensuing years I honed my skills working on cotton rag paper. At last, my work had the detail I craved and I was no longer embarrassed to show off my work.”

What mediums/tools do you use to create your art?

Grafix Drafting Film is now my favorite support. It allows me to take my work to a high level of realism. Recently, I had the honor of being juried into the International Guild of Realism. I work with many different brands of professional-grade colored pencil all of which work well on this film. My main go-to pencil is Prismacolor Premier. Thanks to their waxy nature they blend easily with or without heat on Grafix Drafting Film using a blending pencil, paper stump or tortillion. An Icarus heated board or even a hair blower will warm the film enough to get a nice color blend. Grafix Drafting Film tolerates heat well. After I had completed a piece I discovered a crease in the film. I carefully ironed it on a hard surface and successfully removed the crease. The pencil work remained unharmed. I am amazed at what this material tolerates!”

What influences your artistic style?

“I love to tell stories with my work. I am a people watcher.”

What is your dream project?

“As an OT I am fascinated with hands. I would love to do a series of hands at work.”

What makes your creations important to you?

“It is an outlet for my creative side. I feel a loss, even restlessness if I don’t have a project going all the time. Creating art is a stress reliever. Settling into the right side of my brain is a great escape.”

What is your biggest reward/challenge in terms of your craft?

“The colored pencil is the orphan child of the art world. My biggest reward is having an art critic marvel at my work, finding it painterly, and then being totally gobsmacked after discovering it’s the pencil.”

See more of Gretchen’s work on her website or on Facebook. This post was submitted by Grafix.

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