I am a self-taught artist. Painting with colored pencils has become my passion. I retired from a career in pediatric occupational therapy in 2005. When I completed my BS degree from Western Michigan University I made a promise to myself that one day I would pursue the development of my art skills with children's portraiture as my goal. While raising a family there just never was enough time to study. When my nest emptied practice time was at hand. Goal one was to no longer be embarrassed to show my work. To hone my skills I did graphite portraits of my little OT clients and gave them to their parents.
After years of working in graphite, color seemed intimidating but in time I figured it out. The next step was creating pleasing backgrounds so for practice I did landscapes. Now I enjoy painting both 2 and 4 legged loved ones as well as landscapes. I recently began creating abstracts for fun.
My paintings slowly emerge as I lay down many pencil color layers. To achieve deep rich colors I mix many different hues directly on the support as the form develops. Most portraits are created with up to 30 layers of color. As you can imagine each work takes many weeks to complete. The resulting color is fabulous! I take pride in achieving near photo realism and get lost in detail. More recent works have included sanded pastel board or watercolor canvas as support. I often begin a piece with a watercolor under-painting.
I hold both signatures awarded by Colored Pencil Society in America. (www.cpsa.org) To earn either of these signatures in CPSA a member must be juried into their annual International Exhibition and/or Explore This three times in ten years. There is stiff competition numbering 600-700 entrants competing for about 100 coveted selections. I have also won top honors in the professional divisions of both the SC State Fair and Crooked Creek Art League as well as CP Magazine Annual Members Show.
My second career has taken me places I could have never dreamed of going. The surprises have been fun. It just goes to show you are never too old to learn.
Gretchen Evans Parker, OTR/ret., CPSA, CPX
I am available to give a workshop for your group click workshop tab above for more information.