Suzanne Sigona Found a Second Career as an Artist After Moving to Colorado

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You can find art all over town -- not just on gallery walls. In this series, we'll be looking at some of the local artists who serve up their work in coffeehouses and other non-gallery businesses around town.

Organizational developer Suzanne Sigona relocated to Denver from Washington, D.C. over twenty years ago because she "wanted to move west of the Mississippi," she remembers. Recently, she's also discovered that she wants to grow art from a hobby she picked up after moving to Denver to a second career. "I am so critical of my work, yet it is gratifying when I create something that I want to frame," she says. And she's still surprised when someone wants to buy a piece.

See also: Kaitlin Ziesmer Creates Starstruck Paintings

Sigona doesn't have any formal art training; ten years ago, she decided to pick up a brush and experiment with watercolors because it "was a nice way to finish the day," she says.

She gains inspiration for her abstract, often geometrical watercolors and acrylics from her travels: annual trips to Vietnam, regular DC excursions and a few pure-fun vacations to destinations like Santa Fe or Italy, where she spent time last year and purchased "a precious jar of copper powder" from a quaint Italian boutique.

Sigona is inspired by "the depth of color," she says. "What I always say, particularly when traveling, is that when I see copper I feel inspired to paint." The different variations of the metal inspire her, and help explain her fascination with the Italian copper powder. But the material that inspires Sigona rarely shows up in her pieces, which tend to feature cooler, more soothing tones.

The accidental artist is still a business consultant by day, and also volunteers with veterans. "That's what tends to my soul," Sigona says. She's been assisting with the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington for 26 years, since shortly after her first visit to the Wall. "I couldn't stop crying. I realized I needed to do something about it," explains Sigona, who has spent a good chunk of her spare time doing research for families of veterans.

She recounts the tale of a young man whose girlfriend had a baby before he left for Vietnam. The soldier died at war, and his baby was given up for adoption. Years later, Sigona helped the deceased soldier's parents track down his baby. "It took six years, but we did it," Sigona says. Not only did the grandparents get to meet their granddaughter -- they got to meet two great-grandchildren as well.

Continue reading for more on Sigona's art and her metallic inspiration. Sigona's pieces have been described as having a "stained-glass look," and they often display their meaning. "It is common for me to embed a Chinese symbol in the work so that there is a message: hope, love, strength," Sigona says.

Last year Sigona, who also does photography, began dabbling in oils, and she's found it challenging. "The things that are simple with watercolors are not so simple with the oils," Sigona says. "I am not trained in art, and somebody well-versed in that medium might disagree -- but when it comes to getting the intensity of colors, I don't find it as simple with oils."

Sigona has shown her work at the annual holiday fair at Country Fair Garden Center, and recently wrapped up her fourth show at CHAC, which encourages kids to create art. "We sit the gallery during shows and will bring supplies to encourage young people to do painting," Sigona explains. "I'm always ready to let [children] tear into a canvas. I don't get protective about brushes, supplies or anything like that."

It's exciting to watch kids create, she says, because as adults are standing around the table still deciding what colors to use, a child has finished a canvas. Sigona is constantly trying to summon this kind of confidence and spontaneity into her own studio work.

Although she doesn't currently have a website for her art, you can contact Sigona through her business, Bridging Information.

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