An Chat with Pamela Duarte

THIS MONTH’S FEATURE artist is the amazing Pamela Duarte.  We are super excited because Pamela has drawn six exclusive images for the April issue.

What made you decide to become a coloring book artist?
I have been illustrating children’s coloring books as well as other things for a long time. However, a few years ago, my aunt was in Continuing Care & I noticed that her roommate, who was a lovely & talented woman, liked to color & derived great enjoyment from it. I decided that, since it was something I knew how to do, I would like to contribute to that positive feeling for others. This was just about a year before coloring books for adults became so popular.

In the beginning, I thought that the images needed to be simple and my first 2 books, “Flower Mandalas Vol.1” and “Flower Patterns, Vol.1” reflect that. But as I started to see that colorists can enjoy coloring more complicated compositions I started adding more detail. However, I always like to leave enough space for the colorists to add their own creativity. The collaborative aspect of the process is fascinating to me.

How do you create your art? Do you create your drawings by computer or do      you prefer old school pencil and paper?

I always start with a drawing, as that’s how all my work was done at one time. I love the feel of pencil and pen on paper. Sometimes the drawing is more detailed and sometimes less so. I scan it in to the computer and then I create the image in vector. It usually takes longer than doing it by hand, but the result is cleaner. I know that the general impression people have is that it takes less time, and this may be true for some graphics and geometrics, but it takes longer when you are adding any degree of realism. Other benefits of vector art are that you can scale them without distorting the image, edit more easily, and they usually print better. Because of this, all the commercial work I do has to be in vector. But to avoid a static look & achieve more of a hand done effect I use various brushes.

What is your inspiration for the different types of art that you create for your coloring books?

First and foremost, the colorists inspire me. Seeing what they do with my work and the work of others is exciting. I’m always trying to create art that will, in return, inspire them.

Beyond that, I think perhaps everything you have seen and that has resonated with you in your life somehow fuels creativity. For example, I have always loved flowers. They’re part of the beauty of nature and come in so many colors and shapes that I never tire of looking at them. They’re also connected in my memory to my grandmother who I admired greatly and who taught me to appreciate beauty in the most simplest things. I learned to garden from her as a child, and I always remember how satisfying it was and do it whenever I can. I also have a lifelong interest in fashion, and I think this comes from my mother who was and still is fashionable. But, more importantly, she is a strong and independent woman, which I also admire. I studied fashion illustration at Art Center College of Design and worked in that field in NYC after I graduated. Although more recently I’ve specialized in fashion dolls, I have always retained my interest in fashion. Fashion can be frivolous, but beauty feeds the soul.

Lastly, one of my greatest interests and inspirations has been travel. I feel there is very little in life that can teach you more if you can manage to do it and do it with an open mind. Early in my career I traveled around the world on my own, and it was a priceless education.

Do you ever color your own work? And if so, what’s your favorite medium? Do you like pencils, markers or are you dipping into random reserves around the house for anything that can apply color in an interesting fashion?

I sometimes do color my own work, as it helps me understand how a composition is working or just because I think it might be fun. I use the same supplies that I use in my other work, but for coloring pages my favorite technique is Prismacolor pencils rendered over markers. Sometimes I also color digitally, especially if the design is to be used for other projects.

How do you define success and how do you measure it?

To me success is satisfaction in one’s work, but I also measure it by the enjoyment others may take in it. As I mentioned before, I love the collaborative aspect of coloring books, and I’m always excited to see how colorists interpret my work. I think it gives an artist another point of view that they may not have thought of or expected.

When I free-lance for companies I have to follow their direction and satisfy what they are looking for, which is a challenge in and of itself. Illustrating coloring books is freeing because all the decisions are made by me.

Besides yourself, who is your favorite coloring book artist?

 There are a number of very good coloring book illustrators, but although I certainly appreciate their work, I don’t want to be overly influenced by their own vision. Nor would I necessarily say that I’m my own favorite artist. I look more at painters, and one of my favorites has always been Gustav Klimt because of his contrast between rendered faces and hands played against flat pattern. I just love the juxtaposition.

What color or colors do you most love to work with?

I’m most drawn to fuchsia, purple, turquoise, and other saturated colors. And, because I do a lot of work for children products, I’m very familiar with brights. But when I see some of the beautiful pastels colorists use, or earth tones, or smoky tones, I just love it. I want to do more of that.

Outside of creating coloring books, do you have any other hobbies or activities that you love?

Other than art, I have always loved to dance, read, and travel when I can.

What are your plans for the next year? Do you have any new coloring book releases planned?

I am working on a new coloring book to be released this year. It will be primarily figurative like my book “Flowers & Fashion” as people have really responded to that. And, of course, flowers will be incorporated! Since it does take a long time to create and since I have to fit it in between my other work, it may take a while, but I’m excited about it. I may preview some of the pages as I create them on the Easy shop I just created, FlowersandFashionArt. I would love to expand what I have there because I haven’t had the time to give it my full attention.

What are the titles of the last three books you have read or movies you’ve watched?

I’m primarily interested in non-fiction and particularly enjoyed, “Quiet, the Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” by Susan Cain, “Fragrant Rice” by my friend Janet DeNeefe about her life in Bali, and any travel book by Pico Iyer. For movies or series, I like anything that is visually stimulating but that, hopefully, has some depth as well.

If you could be any animal on a carousel, what would you be, and why?

If I could be any animal on the carousel I would choose the one with the most flowers, ribbons, and jewels. We have to do our best to enjoy life, don’t we? Even though it can sometimes be challenging, life is a beautiful gift!

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