Cecile Baird creates stunning contemporary realism artworks in coloured pencil that could easily be mistaken for oil paintings. She is clearly a leader in the forefront of taking the coloured pencil medium into the realm of being a legitimate fine art medium. In her work she creates dazzling, luminous still life scenes, often backlit to bring out the glowing radiance and inner beauty of her subject.
She holds a fascination for how light can play such a significant role in transforming simple objects into spectacular works of art. In her work Cecile uses dramatic contrasts in tone to emphasise the spectacular transparent quality of her subjects, bringing them to life in all their radiant glory! I hope you enjoy this interview with Cecile, and her spectacular artworks as much as I do. I am sure you will agree that she is a true master of the coloured pencil medium.
Interview with Cecile Baird by Cindy Wider
Q: Please tell us your preferred art name year of birth and Country of origin
A: My first name is Elizabeth but I especially love my middle name and think it is more unique so I go by Cecile Baird. I was born in east Tennessee in 1945 but moved to Ohio in grade school. I lived in Hilliard (Columbus, OH area) through High School then went to The Ohio State University for BFA and MA degrees in Visual Communications Design (Graphic Design). After my Masters graduation I worked as a designer in St Louis, MO then Los Angeles, CA for over 10 years before moving back to Ohio in 1980. I now live in the small rural southern Ohio town of Hillsboro. I love the country but can get to Cincinnati or Columbus if I need the city.
Learning to Draw Through Copying Sunday Comics
Q: Cecile could you tell us when you first realised that you enjoyed creating art as a child and you were supported in your decision, if so by who?
A: My first adventure into art was as a young child copying the Sunday comics. Some of you may remember those! My brother and I couldn’t wait until the paper came and we would draw and draw. I can remember having the winning drawing of a clock for a school invitation in about the first grade. I always loved to draw. My Father was a carpenter and could make anything and my Mother sewed and did many creative things so creating was always important in our house. It was always assumed that my brother and I would go to college. Since my brother chose to study architecture I decided to try Interior Design as there were not many women architects in those days. But I quickly switched to Graphic Design and never looked back. My parents always supported my choice of a creative career. They were always my biggest fans.
Q: What journey have you been on as an artist. For example when did you first begin to create art as an adult? Did you study at all and if so where?
A: When I began college at The Ohio State University I never considered studying fine art because my family’s practical side thought commercial art would allow me to make a living. Graphic Design was a great choice. I could be creative but still have a comfortable living. I was very fortunate in my work especially in Los Angeles to work on such projects as the LA Bicentennial and to compete for the design of the LA Olympic symbol. I did no fine Art until I moved to rural Hillsboro, OH and met a group of fabulous artists. I studied under a local teacher beginnig with oils. I had always used colored pencils in design but had never thought of them for fine art. I bought a small Walter Foster book “Colored Pencil” by Morrell Wise and discovered that I could get the look of oils with a colored pencil! I was immediately hooked and cp became my passion. I took a few workshops on cp but mostly just experimented on my own.
Its wonderful to create and get paid for it
Q: What is the primary motivation for why you create art? For example; Is it income or a burning passion to draw/paint?
A: When I moved back to Ohio I continued my design work but spent all of my spare time creating crafts of all kinds. But once I discovered painting first with oil and then colored pencil, fine art became my passion. I truly believe that if you are a creative person you have to let that creativity out – you have to create. That has been the thread running through my whole life – imagine and create. I have always felt so fortunate that I have had a creative career. It is wonderful to be able to create and get paid for it at the same time.
Q: What goes through your mind while you draw/paint, is there a calm silence, do you listen to music or do you experience doubt, fear or any emotions at all? If you experience fear or doubt what do you do to overcome these feelings?
A: I have never listened to music when I draw but have become addicted to my local NPR Radio Station which is always on when I am in my studio. I do become totally engrossed when I work but it is definitely not calm. Art is difficult! You are constantly making decisions and solving problems. It can be quite stressful. Sometimes I have to give my mind a break. But when something finally turns out the way you wanted it is euphoric. I think if art weren’t challenging and if you weren’t constantly questioning yourself it would become boring. And to me it is never boring. And I can honestly say that I have never completed a drawing that I thought was perfect. Every time I look at a piece of my art all I see is what I think is wrong. But I don’t let that stop me. I try to learn from each piece and apply it to the next piece.
Like playing the piano the more you create the better you become
Q: How do you make time to include art in your life, do you have any suggestions to help others manage their creative lives?
A: As I mentioned before I loved creating lots of different things. But there came a time when I realized that if I really wanted to improve my art I needed to give up lots of other things and concentrate exclusively on my art. It is like playing the piano…the more you practice the better you become. Even when I still had my design business I devoted every other moment to my art. I am not married nor have children so I admit I had more time to do this than some others. But whatever your situation you have to commit as much time as possible. It has to be a priority. Having a dedicated space where you can leave your work out really helps also. But the main thing is be serious and commit.
Q: Is Drawing and creating artworks your only profession or main business. If not, what else do you do for work?
A: After my book “Painting Light with Colored Pencil” was published in 2005 I spent several years traveling and teaching workshops in addition to doing my design business and my own art work. A few years ago I decided that it was time to concentrate solely on my own artwork. I retired from my business and quit teaching and now spend my time caring for my 94 year old Mother and doing my art work. I am very lucky!
Concentrate on ideas – to make your art unique
Q: Do you have any special unique advice or skills to share with other artists who are learning to create artworks at this very high standard that you are working at?
A: If you want to take your art to the next level you have to concentrate on creativity. To me the best and most exciting part of art is coming up with ideas. That is the creative part that will make your art unique to you. I never use someone else’s reference materials. I do still life and always do my own ideas and set ups. I sometimes spend days and lots of work getting just the right idea, composition, lighting, etc. It is a lot of work and lots of people don’t want to put the time and effort into their art at this most important stage. They just want to start drawing. That is a huge mistake. The idea or vision is the creative part and creativity takes effort and time. The technical skills of handling the medium are important but only one small part of creating art. You can have a successful painting with great creativity, composition, etc. but less than perfect technique but not the other way around. Perfect technique alone does not make art.
Q: Cecile please tell us about any significant awards you have won or exhibitions that have made an impact on your life.
A: From the beginning I used competitions to get my name out there and promote my work. I have entered all kinds of competitions from local to all over the country. Some were shows and some magazine competitions. I have been fortunate enough to win many awards this way. I have been published in The Artists Magazine, American Artist, Drawing Magazine, International Artist and Southwest Art Magazine. My latest award was an Honorable Mention in The Artistic Excellence Competition in Southwest Art Magazine. An earlier appearance in Southwest Art led to an Artist in Residence in Tulsa, OK which let to museum and gallery representation.
Of course the publication of my book led to lots of recognition and teaching opportunities.
The Colored Pencil Society of America and it’s International Show has helped my career immeasurably as it has many cp artists. I have won several awards at this show and this year 2018 will be my 15th year of acceptance into their show. CPSA has been instrumental in the recognition of colored pencil and the artists who use the medium as serious art.
A Pioneer in Coloured Pencil Art
Q: What major and significant goals and influences do you have for your art if any? Tell us who or what inspires you to be the best you can be as an artist.
A: For a long while I was questioning should I go back to oils which is the premiere medium or stick with colored pencil which is not as accepted in the art world. But I finally concluded that I love cp and that it is what I am most comfortable with. My goal is to be remembered as a pioneer in colored pencil art. It is exciting to me to be part of this great mediums rise in the art world.
Q: Where do you see your art going into the future, do you have any goals at all for your long term development?
A: Since turning 70 my goals are to produce as much art as I can for as long as I can. I am sure the best years are still to come. I would also love to hear a gallery owner say…”Oh, I have been looking for a colored pencil artist!” instead of having to convince them to try colored pencil.
Draw what you love!
Q: Is there anything else that you would like to tell me about your art journey so far and your inspiration to create art, that I could include in your interview to inspire others?
A: Draw what YOU love. Don’t let others dictate what you should draw. Letting others direct you is easy to do when you start selling. But your art will always be better if it is your idea and your heart is in it.
To see more from Cecile Baird check out her work at the link below
- Website: www.cecilebairdart.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
My absolute favorite artist! She works very hard on her concepts and execution. The fruits of all that hard work are original and beautiful. She is a great inspiration.
Your art is exceptional…in both concept and execution!! Truly amazing!! Your book is ready for me to pick up at our local library, so excited to read it! Thanks for being a pioneer in cp for the rest of us!
Have always love your style of art and you’re an inspiration to me as a colour pencil artist. Love your positive attitude and your passion for the medium. Especially your guts to stick to what you love most.
Truly magnificent work.
Cecile you’re understanding of the complementary relationship between the Light and dark spectrums and how to share this with the world in your art has been a great inspiration to me in my own work. This is also my personal primary goal as an artist and I’ve always admired how beautifully you’ve shared this relationship in your own art.
For GCSE art, I have chosen you as my artist to study and be inspired by. Now I realise how insanely amazing your realism is. My work is no way near as good as yours but by looking at your art, I think it is helping me to grow as an artist and develop my realistic skills. I’m only 14 now but hopefully one day i will be as good as you.