Burning Questions: Artist Tanja Gant on Egypt and the Appalachian Trail

It’s our newest installment of “Burning Questions!” Today we share some behind-the-scenes story-bites from Tanja Gant, who is featured in The Artist’s Magazine (January/February 2014) with her Drawing Board article on portraits in colored pencil, and how to avoid cliché with close cropping.

Colored pencil portrait by Tanja Gant

Speak No Evil (colored pencil, 10×8) by Tanja Gant

1. What’s the color you can’t live without and why?
Every time I start a new drawing I fall in love with a different color (recently it’s been red) but I always go back to black. Even though I use it mainly for accents, it’s an essential part of my drawing process; the key element that I believe gives the oomph to my drawings. A little black goes a long way; and I make sure that my supply of black pencil doesn’t run out any time soon.

2. Give us your bio, in six words.
Voracious reader, Egyptology enthusiast, Balkan born.

3. Dream vacation spot?
It would have to be Egypt, where I visited with my husband in 1998. I’ve been fascinated with the history of Egypt for a long time. It was truly a feast for all the senses. My other favorite vacation spot, and a place I can never get enough of, is my home country of Bosnia where all of my family still lives.

4. Do you have a ritual that gets you primed for painting?
I always organize my work area before tackling a new drawing. It’s almost like a cleansing ritual. It’s something I have to do because I know that by the time I’m finished with my new project I will have created a considerable mess. I also make a list of the pencils I will be using (sorted by sections and order of use), which makes my life a lot easier. And of course there’s music. My playlist consists of the music that spans the last three decades and consists of a wide variety of styles, from ambient to alternative to rock to modern Balkan traditional music, also called Byzantium music (performed by the Serbian musician/singer Slobodan Trkulja).

5. Favorite author? 
My favorite author is Bill Bryson. The first book of his I ever read was A Walk in the Woods and it had me belly laughing until the last page. It’s a humorous record of his travels on the Appalachian Trail, which inspired my husband and me to give it a try, but only for a mile, while we were living in Virginia.

• Read Tanja Gant’s article in The Artist’s Magazine
• Visit Tanja’s website and like her page on Facebook

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