by Christina Simon
Agapanthus in Bloom, around 9x12in (paper) - I fell in love with everything about this flower, specially its colours. Reference photo by Nigel Burkitt, with permission. Caran d'Ache Luminance and Pablo on Moulin du Roy HP 300gsm
I was born and raised in Brazil and always had pencils and paper in my hands as far as I can remember. My earliest memory of it being the one of a freshly repainted white wall in my bedroom covered with all sorts of scribbles done with my Crayolas when I was around 2 years old. My mom was in shock and the wall remained like that for years.
I kept drawing mostly from observing illustrations and photos, always using coloured pencils until college, where I graduated as Product Designer. At the time (end of the 80's) all I had was paper, pen and pencils, no computers, so I kept drawing, but technical drawings.
After I graduated in 91, I've worked as Interior Designer for three years and then moved to France, where I live since then. Here, I've worked as freelance Graphic Designer for some years but the income being irregular and the bills being regular, I decided I needed to have a temporary regular job as well. And that's how I began working in Luxury Retail.
This temporary job became the main one, I had no time left to do anything else and I totally lost contact with my papers, pencils and graphic design projects. This period of my life was a long one: almost 20 years.
When I quit my last job as a luxury jeweller store manager I was kind of lost, because I didn't feel like working on retail anymore but didn't know what to do other than that, having been totally away from my previous professional activities for decades.
That's when my old Caran d'Ache Supracolor Soft pencil set became a frequent and lovely thought, and I noticed how much I missed them. I decided to offer myself a set of 120 Caran d'Ache Pablo coloured pencils and some colouring books. I didn't use them often at the time but they were there.
One day, making my bed, I felt an indescribable pain in my back, just when I was considering working on retail again. I thought the pain was something temporary but it wasn't, so I had to learn how to live with it and find something to do to fill my days as I couldn't do much without pain and it is the case until now.
That's when and how my journey back to drawing began. My wonderful pencils and colouring books became part of my daily life on summer 2016.
After more or less 5 months of colouring and collecting new art supplies, on August 2016, I decided to use my Instagram account created in 2011 and never really used since then to share photos of the pages I was colouring and also some doodles. At this point, it all was a therapy to me.
But after 4 months I felt the need to do something more, create something. It was December 2016 and I imagined a butterfly, half realistic and coloured, half cherry blossom branches drawn using black ink. To my surprise this drawing was a immense success, has been shared by many big art-sharing pages on Instagram and it made me realise I was ready for more.
Morpho Butterfly with Flowers wing, around 6x6in (drawings) - From my imagination. Coloured pencils (Luminance, Pablo, Polychromos) & Ink on Fabriano Bristol (2016) and on Fabriano Artistico (2018).
I drew another butterfly using the same concept and some colouring pages later, I felt it was time to do more challenging and realistic pieces.
The first drawing after this Epiphany was a tree frog. I stilI mixed ink and pencils to draw it, but the following drawing, a butterfly shaped strawberry has been drawn using only coloured pencils.
Then I fell in love with a magnificent photo by Nigel Burkitt, who kindly gave me permission to draw it, an agapanthus beginning to bloom. All about it was a challenge and I wanted to do justice to the photo I was going to draw. It took me more than 100h and several weeks to complete it and when I looked at it my first thought was "Did I really draw this?". I felt like if I was staring at another artist's work. This flower really was a milestone to me.
Another butterfly and some weeks later, another Epiphany: I felt I needed to draw a bird, something I didn't thought I could do at the time. I picked up a photo of a cute robin on Pixabay and gave it a go. What I thought would be a challenge happened naturally and I fell in love with drawing birds. This happened on October 2017, people loved it and I almost only drew birds since then. Their colours and shapes, not to mention their intelligence, never cease to amaze me!
In March I've been commissioned to draw an American Kestrel. My first commission ever, drawn at real size. It was an honour and a huge challenge that required a month and around 200h of work to complete and thanks to that, I created new techniques to get the details I was aiming to achieve. This gorgeous bird is another milestone on my journey and it is now on a loving home in the USA.
American Kestrel Sitting on a Mullein, around 9x12in (paper) - My first commission now at a loving home in the USA. Photo provided. Caran d'Ache Luminance & Pablo, Faber-Castell Polychromos on Fabriano Artistico HP 300gsm.
Other than various birds, I've also drawn bumblebees (another favourite subject), some cherries, another frog, a blossoming agapanthus and, to measure my progress after 18 months of drawing, a 2018 version of the butterfly I've drawn in December 2016 and was the beginning of it all.
Butterflies have always fascinated me. They symbolise transformation and through their example, they teach us to set everything that we once known aside and to embrace an entire new way of being.
I can't not to notice how much they have marked the beginning of each new chapter of my drawing journey and I can't wait for the next one!
Christina graduated in Product Design and worked as Interior and freelance Graphic Designer before spending almost two decades working on Luxury Retail. Following a back injury her love for coloured pencils resurfaced and she became a full-time coloured pencil artist whose work is inspired by nature. She is a colour perfectionist, cares for those small details that make the difference. Her favorite art quote is "I am still learning" by Michelangelo.