Watercolor artist working on a plein air painting of a barn
Cindy Briggs painting in nearby Park City, Utah, Fall 2020, 11 x 14 in., watercolor, McPollin Barn
Watercolor artist plein air painting in France at an abbey
Cindy Briggs Painting at the Sénanque Abbey, Provence, 2017, 15 x 15 in., watercolor

How did you get started and then develop your career?

Cindy Briggs: My family legacy is filled with many women artists, so it was natural for me to pursue art as a career. After earning a degree in Design, I worked as an advertising art director for major agencies in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Seattle. This valuable experience helped build my foundation in composition, helped me understand the importance of light, and then appreciate how to share a meaningful message. After having two children, I left advertising to focus full time on my family and creating art.

My Aunt, professional artist Ellie Weakley, has always been my mentor and has given me invaluable advice and encouragement. Early on, I joined Ellie on painting trips to Carmel-by-the-Sea, Taos and Paris and found my heart was in traveling, painting and teaching. I had my first gallery show in Boulder, Colorado, after about a year of painting and have been exhibiting mostly watercolor paintings in galleries, museums and juried shows ever since.

Early on, following my Aunt’s example, I started leading plein air workshops internationally. My first workshop was in Provence, France, about 20 years ago, co-teaching with Theresa Goesling. Since then, we have taken students throughout Europe and across the US. Next year, we’ll return to Spain. While I also paint with oils and pastels, I prefer working with watercolors for the way they magically mingle and flow; plus, watercolor supplies are much easier to travel with.

I’m energized when I’m painting en plein air or leading a “live” demonstration. There is an adrenaline rush that flows through me into my paintbrush. While living in Seattle, I connected with Daniel Smith Artist Materials and became a regular demonstrator and instructor. I currently teach online for The Smithsonian Art Studios, University of Utah, Terracotta, French Escapade, The Kimball Art Center in Park City, and have my own online programs including “All About Watercolors.” I enjoy helping my students discover how painting watercolors can be a tranquil, enriching experience.

Moving to Utah four years ago, I’ve found new scenery to paint. Locally, my favorite destinations are historical Park City, UT, and Zion National Park where the natural stone cathedrals appear altered every few minutes with the dance of light. Likewise, the character of the old-world stone architecture of Europe, and the soft forms of a model draw me in. Throughout my career, I continue to discover the power of light and find new ways to express myself through painting.

How do you describe success?

I remember Eric Rhoads asking, “As an artist you need to decide what you want — do you want to be rich, famous or happy? Right then and there I decided to focus on what makes me happy. If my paintings bring joy to someone else, even better.

How do you find inspiration?

Minoring in Art History, I’ve always been interested in exploring the stories of artists from Caravaggio to John Singer Sargent. I collect art books, visit museums and galleries, and take workshops to expand my point-of-view. Most of my inspiration comes from my travels and seeking out captivating light on new subjects. I’m drawn to the way light and shadow helps capture the essence of most any subject from portraits to cityscapes to still life. How flowers can sparkle with dabs of sunlight. And, the way landscapes and seascapes change throughout the varied light of the day.

What is the best thing about being an artist?

I’m living my dream and passing forward the family legacy of creating art.

Watercolor painting of a green door in Tuscany
Cindy Briggs, “Tuscan Doorway,” 30 x 22 in., watercolor, 2016 commission
Watercolor painting of a rock formation in Zion
Cindy Briggs, “Ascending Zion, 20 x 16 in., watercolor, 2020
Watercolor portrait of a young lady
Cindy Briggs, “Portrait of Margo, 11 x 14 in., watercolor, 2021
Photo of a plein air painting in situ in France
Cindy Briggs, Plein Air Painting in Oppede Le Vieux, Provence, 15 x 15 in., watercolor

To see more of Cindy’s work, visit: www.CindyBriggs.com


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