Friday, March 15, 2013

Friday Feature: Ester Roi

Ester Roi in her studio
Prepare to have your socks knocked off.  This is some amazing art for this weeks Friday Feature.  Ester's work is mesmerizing.  I would love to watch her in action, and who couldn't love an artist that has a swing in their studio.  

To see more of her work check out her website, blog and facebook page.

How did you get your start?  What’s your artist journey so far?

I had an incredible art teacher in junior high school back in Italy. He was supportive, inspiring and very handsome. I had the biggest crush on him and produced an enormous amount of art in those three years. Professor Agostini was the first person in my life who appreciated and encouraged my artistic talent. He even came to my house to convince my parents they needed to send me to art school. Unfortunately there wasn’t one in my town. I was sent instead to a scientific high school that focused on math, chemistry and physics but I also studied art history, technical drawing and chiaroscuro rendering. However on weekends my art spirit would live vicariously through a Venetian boyfriend who sold his paintings to the tourists. 

In my early twenties I came to the United States and began taking art classes in college while learning English. Eventually I worked as a graphic designer until I started having children. I then became a frustrated oil painter never having enough time for my art. In fact I did give it up for a while until I picked up a box of colored pencils. After finishing my first drawing I was completely hooked. 

"Appassionato in f minor" original colored pencil painting by Ester Roi

Where were you born?

In Vicenza, Italy, a town in the Po Valley with Venice to the East and the Alps to the North. Growing up in Italy exposed me to a culture where art is an integral part of life; you can’t avoid it, it’s everywhere and one can easily take it for granted. 

If you could live anywhere where would you live?

Right here in Southern California. Although my original family still lives in Italy and I visit whenever I can, I absolutely love it here and I wouldn’t move back. I’m an American citizen and proud of it.

What’s your favorite thing to paint and why?

In my youth my father, a teacher, used to take me with my brother and sister to weekend outings in the Italian Dolomites. He was an avid naturalist. Together we explored the wilderness while learning to name all the flowers, birds, rocks and fossils we’d find along the way. Some of my favorite subjects are indeed the same ones I learned to love in my childhood.

In the last several years I have been painting flowers and rocks and their interaction with water. I study them above and below the surface, and observe how their visual characteristics change and relate to each other. Nature is indeed my muse and water my canvas.
"Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow" original colored pencil painting by Ester Roi
Could you talk about your painting techniques? 

When I resolved to take my lifelong passion for art to a professional level, I put my oil paints aside in favor of colored pencils. I was somewhat familiar with this medium since I had used it as a child and as a student in college. My interest was focused on a technique called "colored pencil painting" which aims to achieve the same level of color saturation and density that is characteristic of acrylic or oil.
While searching for methods that would facilitate the blending and burnishing of my wax-based colored pencils, I decided to experiment with heat. I soon discovered how remarkable the effect of heat was on my colored pencils and decided to build a heated board that I named “Icarus Drawing Board”. In spite of the many shortcomings of my first prototype, I persisted and became a true believer in this new technique.

As my experience and enthusiasm for the Icarus Drawing Board continued to grow, I embraced other wax-based media beside colored pencils.  Oil and wax pastels and artist crayons have allowed me to work larger and faster.
The Icarus board is a portable, electric board which features two working zones, a warm zone and a cool zone. In general, I use the warm zone for mixing, blending, burnishing, and reworking; the cool zone for line drawing, layering, detailing, and finishing touches. The heat helps soften or melt the waxy pigments so they can be easily manipulated and blended in a painterly fashion. When finished, the paper or un-stretched canvas is mounted on a cradled board, varnished and shown without glass.
"Impasse" original colored pencil painting by Ester Roi
Do you have go-to paints/colors, what are your favorites?

Blue is my favorite one, especially cobalt blue. I only did one painting in my life that didn’t have any blue and I still cringe when I look at it. I’m attracted to primary colors, vibrant and saturated. I play cool colors against warm ones while shadows are always an excuse to introduce complimentary colors. Although I depict realistic subjects, my use of colors is anything but. Like Claude Monet, I can testify that “colors are my day-long obsession, joy and torment”.    

Do you have a favorite artist?  Who has been your biggest inspiration?

There are so many artists who continuously influence and inspire me; impressionists and post-impressionists for their revolutionary use of color; even the Fauvists left a mark on me with colors that definitely ruled supreme; Georgia O’Keeffe for looking at flowers from a magnified perspective and using them to express emotions. But if I have to pinpoint a single person as my biggest inspiration, it would be my junior high school art teacher.
"Preludio" original colored pencil painting by Ester Roi
What have been some of your crowning achievements?

I’m proud of having been an exhibitor in the Laguna Beach Festival of Arts in 2012 and having been accepted in the Laguna Beach Art-A-Fair Festival for this coming summer; that my artwork is featured worldwide on the cover of the largest box of Prismacolor Colored Pencils and on the cover of the French magazine Pratique des Arts; of receiving the Colored Pencil Society of America prestigious EXPY Best Of Show Award and First Place Award in The Artist's Magazine's All-Media Competition.
"The Butterfly Effect" original colored pencil painting by Ester Roi
In my private life my crowning achievements are my two amazing sons and a happy 27 year marriage to the love of my life.

What are five things you would like to happen in your life in the next five years? Dream big here:)

To become a sought-after artist in California 
To continue to get accepted in the Laguna Beach art festivals
To increase my collector base until everything I produce finds a good home 
For the Icarus board to become a mainstream tool for artists worldwide
To make enough to build my dream studio
What is your advice for other artists who are just getting started in their career?

Put passion in everything you do. 
Hard work can often compensate for talent, even in art. 
Once you get there, be generous and kind to your fellow artists. 
"Effervescence" original colored pencil painting by Ester Roi
What is the best advice that you have received as an artist?
When I feel like I’m not accomplishing enough, I read this passage from Archbishop Oscar Romero:
“… We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work. Nothing we do is complete… We cannot do everything, and there’s a sense of liberation in realizing that. This enables us to do something and to do it well…” 
"The Lightness of Being" original colored pencil painting by Ester Roi


Chocolate or vanilla?


Your dream vacation spot?

The Snake River in Wyoming

Book or movie?


Favorite author?

Dante Alighieri

Favorite movie?

Pride and Prejudice

Romance or comedy?


Favorite dessert?

Chocolate cake with chocolate frosting 

Night owl or morning person?

Definitely a morning person; those quiet hours alone, when night becomes day, are irreplaceable. 

Makes me want to pick up my colored pencils again.  Amazing work!! Thank you Ester.


  1. Ester has transformed pencils to paint. Beautiful!

  2. Striking WORK!!!!
    and iNspiring ART, too!

  3. Carrie, I have been a fan or yours and your amazing art for a while. I got to know you while listening to AHA radio and then through Facebook of course. Thank you for featuring me; it's been a real pleasure!

  4. STUNNING WORK!! where are my socks? thank you for this incredible feature and an introduction to an amazing artist!

  5. "Impasse" did it for me!! Amazing work!!

  6. Spectacular work! Thanks for introducing us to Ester!

  7. SO great, that you choose a colored pencil artist for this interview! There are so many great CP artists out there - and Ester is definitely one of the best!

  8. Thanks so much for featuring Ester in your blog! :)

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  11. What a fascinating woman!!! Thank you, Carrie. I really enjoyed this post.


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