Colored pencil art by Jaimon Caceres

Life in Color

In May 2019, Retreat, Stuffby Lauren Kruchten

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If you think colored pencils are just for kids, think again. Raleigh-based artist Jaimon Caceres uses them to create magical landscapes and lifelike portraits that look similar to oil paintings.

Raised on a small farm in Burnsville, NC, Caceres grew up without television and internet, encouraging him to take in the natural beauty of the world around him. During the warmer months, Caceres adventured through fields, forests and creeks surrounding his home and in the wintertime, he’d draw what he encountered.

Though he drew constantly as a child, Caceres studied interior design at the Art Institute, thinking it would be a more 
financially stable career path. Then, two years ago, he decided he didn’t want to go another day without following his dream of becoming an artist, so he started a business creating colored pencil art.

“I was having visions of myself as an older man, totally miserable in a job I hated, wishing I had pursued my art and I needed to do something about it,” Caceres says.

While colored pencil is one of the hardest mediums to use, Caceres says he chose it because he loves a challenge. “I need the pressure of a challenge to perform really well. There is a very small margin for error with colored pencil, so I have to be hyper focused while I am working.”

Caceres says that while making colored pencil art is demanding, his process is fairly traditional. He starts by looking at a reference photo and sketches the image onto heavy cotton paper with graphite drawing pencils. Then, he layers on the colors, starting with black and finishing with white. It’s the white, he says, that helps blend the colors and achieve that smooth, oil-painting look.

“I love the finished result of colored pencil art,” Caceres says. “It makes me so proud when people tell me they can’t believe a piece was done in pencil.”

Since transitioning to working as a professional artist, Caceres has completed two series of drawings, one of Paris cityscapes and the other, a study of ballet dancers. As a former ballet dancer himself, he sees similarities between colored pencil art and classical ballet; both require a specific skill set that demands hard work and patience, as well as practice and constant attention to improving technique. 

“Also, both are definitely going to give you blisters and calluses; not my favorite part of either discipline,” Caceres jokes.

As for future series, Caceres constantly seeks inspiration and new things to try. One of the most important aspects of his art, he says, is capturing beauty. 

“In all the work that I create, I am interested in recreating moments in life that are so beautiful and intriguing, they force me to stop and take them in.”

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