May 3, 2017

The Look On Their Faces – My Favorite Part Of Exhibiting My Art

by Corrina Thurston


From what I’ve seen, colored pencil is one of the most misunderstood and underestimated art mediums out there.

Colored pencil is something we use in grade school to scribble in coloring books. It’s something we use to highlight pieces of text in books and make light sketches. What people don’t realize is that it can also be used to create vibrant, detailed fine art drawings.

That’s why people are so shocked when I tell them that my artwork is done in colored pencil.


A Typical Encounter

The typical encounter when someone views my artwork goes something like this:

Someone walks into the gallery where my art is displayed and after wandering around a little pauses briefly to look at a particular piece more closely.

I walk up to the person, having noticed their interest, and say, “This is one of my favorite pieces.”

The person glances my way and nods. “Are you the artist?”

“I am,” I say, keeping my gaze hovering over the piece they’re looking at. “All of my artwork is done in colored pencil, including this piece.”

Their face turns toward me in shock.

After a moment of confusion, the person says, “What?”

I smile, trying to hold back a laugh. “All my artwork is done in colored pencil.”

The person is still staring at me in disbelief and then suddenly turns back to the drawing and steps closer, almost pressing their face against the glass to analyze it up close.

Then they turn back to me. “Are you sure?!?”


My Favorite Part Of Exhibiting

Yep, I’m pretty sure. I’m the one who spent hours upon hours adding layer after layer of colored pencil to draw each piece, so I would know!

It makes me laugh every time. And it makes me feel good.

When I shock someone by not just telling them, but SHOWING them what colored pencil can do as a fine art medium, I get almost giddy. Yes, it can do this! Yes, it really is colored pencil! No, I didn’t use any water or solvent or brushes, I swear!

It is one of my absolute favorite parts of exhibiting my artwork and being there in person to talk to the audience. I love the look on their faces!


One Of My Artistic Goals

If you’ve ever read my artist statement, either here on my About page, or at a display, one of the things I talk about is helping colored pencil be better recognized as a fine art medium. This is one of my biggest artistic goals.

I’ve gone into galleries in the past to talk with the curators and as soon as I say colored pencil, the door has been shut. They’re no longer interested, without even seeing my work.

That’s why I now have small samples of my artwork ready to show anyone who asks, BEFORE I tell them the medium. I’ve even gone into the same galleries that turned me down before and showed them samples of my work first, then said it was colored pencil, and have received a different response.

There’s a stigma with colored pencil in the art world, it seems. Pastel artists and watercolorists have gone through it at some points as well, as though it can’t be a fine art medium.

But it can.

I want my artwork and the amazing artwork of my colored pencil artist friends to help change the notion that colored pencil can’t create fine art. It can create beautiful, amazing artwork. I had no idea until I started playing around with them in 2010, and it’s a medium that takes a lot of patience, but it’s worth it.

Some of my colored pencil artwork from 2016.

Spreading The Word

I want to thank all of my supporters for helping me spread the word about colored pencil. Every time you share my work or the work of other artists, you help educate people about this medium. Every time one of you comes up to my artwork with a friend and says, “Can you believe this is colored pencil?!?” it is amazing for me and then YOU get to shock that person too.

I love working in colored pencil. It’s a taxing medium in a lot of ways, but I love the results and I love shocking my audience when they see it or the first time.

Thank you for all your support and please keep sharing and shocking the world!

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