Cynthia Knox has been drawing with graphite pencils since she was teenager and learned to draw from pencil drawing books by fellow Walter Foster artist, Gene Franks. “My favorite projects were the kitten and the foal—both of those pieces, I still have,” says Cynthia. This early drawing experience led Cynthia initially to portrait commissions of people and animals, which she found very rewarding.
“It was less than 10 years ago that I began experimenting with colored pencils. I found them to be an easy, affordable medium that could yield extraordinary color and detail,” says Cynthia. Though colored pencils may be her passion now, she still likes to return to her simple 2B pencils every now and then.
With early instruction in drawing—and later, in colored pencil—from Walter Foster publications, it was a natural progression for Cynthia to want to become a Walter Foster artist. She published Flowers in Colored Pencil in 2011 and Colored Pencil Basics, newly released this summer.
While Cynthia’s florals succeed in juried competitions, currently she is most passionate about drawing and painting horses. “I live in Saratoga, New York, and when the summer track season heats up, there is a great deal of interest in all things horses,” says Cynthia.
Like most artists, Cynthia finds inspiration and encouragement from fellow artists. “Lee Hammond taught me excellent techniques for both graphite and colored pencils. She led two workshops in my town and gave me the courage to move into colored pencils.” Other artists who have influenced Cynthia in her art journey are Barbara Edidin and Ann Kullberg.
In addition to such wonderful friends and peers, Cynthia’s support system is grounded in her husband, Jeff, their two daughters, and her parents. “They would always applaud everything I did, no matter how amateur it was,” Cynthia says. Cynthia has worked with a life coach for several years, who has spurred her to higher levels in her career. With her encouragement and critique, Cynthia has had a website designed, won awards, taught art classes, judged art shows for a school and an artists’ society, been featured in monthly and hardcover publications, and completed two books with Walter Foster Publishing. "I am truly grateful for the people in my life,” says Cynthia.
Working with such a vibrant medium, it is no wonder that color inspires Cynthia. “Nothing creates a mood like color and light in a painting,” says Cynthia. She points out that colored pencil artists call their works “paintings” because they apply layers upon layers. “The saturation of color, the blending, and the burnishing effects achieved with intense pressure often lead to a painterly look similar to that of oils,” says Cynthia.
Colored pencil can be an intimidating medium for beginning artists, and Cynthia shares that lots of practice has led her to confidence. “When I began using colored pencils, I was nervous because they are not easy to erase. In fact, they really don’t erase well at all. How would I correct my mistakes?” For Cynthia, this was a major obstacle in continuing to explore the medium. However, she learned that there are plenty of ways to work with mistakes. You can learn some of her tips in both of her books with Walter Foster.
To stay motivated and inspired, Cynthia finds joy increating new compositions with her camera, as well as in the affirmation of family and friends when she completes a new piece. When she’s not creating, Cynthia attends a small church with her family, where they have been involved in Bible studies, church events, leadership issues, and a new building on a beautiful piece of land. “Relationships with these friends, a committed marriage of 25 years to my husband Jeff, and the joy and pride we take in our two daughters all inspire and motivate me to live each day to its fullest. Did I mention that we have four great dogs as well?”
For those artists just starting out, Cynthia encourages practice and drawing, drawing, and more drawing. “It’s important to nail down those drawing skills before engaging in any other medium,” says Cynthia, pointing out that composition, perspective, and general layout must make sense to someone viewing your art. “Once those drawing skills are in place, bring in some color, and just keep making art as often and consistently as possible. Most importantly, don’t give up when you’re discouraged. Push through that, and persevere. You will be pleased with the journey and delighted with the rewards at the end of it.”
To learn more about Cynthia and view more of her beautifulart, please visit www.cynthiaknox.com.
Artwork and author photo Copyright © Cynthia Knox.