Sunday, May 13, 2007

International exhibitions of coloured pencil artwork: CPSA and UKCPS

Whistling Duck at rest
9" x 12", coloured pencils on Colourfix
copyright Leslie H Evans

The two major annual exhibitions of coloured pencil artwork by the CPSA and the UKCPS are both open and international - which means they accept work from any artist working in coloured pencil living anywhere in the world. Both are currently moving up a gear prior to the respective shows later this year.

Colored Pencil Society of America - 15th Annual International Exhibition, Bethesda
On Saturday, the Colored Pencil Society of America (CPSA) announced the artwork (and artists) accepted into the 15th Annual International Exhibition in Bethesda (July 14th - August 25th). You can see the list of artwork accepted and the artists who produced it here. CPSA enables maximum participation by artists at this open exhibition by limiting pieces shown to a maximum of one per artist. I'll be covering the artists awarded prizes following the announcements after the exhibition opens.

I've included images of a couple of the works which have been accepted. You can see how the duck at the top of the page progressed to completion last summer in this thread from the Wet Canvas Coloured Pencil Forum - Leslie's WC name is 'Chisaii'.

The image on the left is 'Leda' by Maggie Stiefvater. It's 8" x 10" on Bristol smooth.

It seems to me that both images shown here are very good examples of some of the points that I highlighted following my analysis of the impact of all the entries to CPSA 2006 - which you can read in my blog post CPSA entries to the 2006 exhibition. You might also want to read it to find out also why, in my opinion, some of the entries last year did not achieve impact!

Pieces that had most impact typically appeared to have one or more of the following:
  • a strong value pattern
  • dramatic lighting
  • very simple subjects
  • very simple colour schemes (based on a limited range of colours)
  • or a monochromatic emphasis (eg emphasis on one main colour or mono with one colour)
  • very strong saturated colours
  • a sense of humour
  • demonstrated original concepts
  • had an unusual titles which made you think
I attended the CPSA convention and exhibition last year in Albuquerque New Mexico. There's lots to see and do at the convention - as well as finally getting an opportunity to put a name to a face! I highly recommend that anybody interested in this year's events (including workshops) take a look at the link to the convention page. The CPSA convention this year is July 31 - August 4th.

United Kingdom Coloured Pencil Society: 6th Annual Open international Exhibition, Patchings Arts Centre, Nottinghamshire
June 12th is the deadline for entries for the Annual Open International Exhibition 2007 of the United Kingdom Coloured Pencil Society (UKCPS) with accepted artwork needing to be delivered to Patchings between 10th and 12th September. The exhibition then runs from 15th September to 15th October 2007.

What's eligible for the UKCPS exhibition? This is what the entry form states.
The Annual United Kingdom Coloured Pencil Society Open International Exhibition shall be of pure coloured pencil work only. Coloured pencil does not include pastel pencils. It does include crayons labelled by manufacturers as “containing coloured pencil pigments” or “compatible with CP” e.g. Caran d’Ache Neocolor 11, or Derwent Aquatone. There shall be no restriction on how the pencils are used – all solvents including water are acceptable. Graphite pencil may be used under or between layers of coloured pencil, but the pigment surface of the work should be 100% coloured pencil. Coloured support media such as coloured mount board, Canson Mi-Teintes or similar papers are permitted, but any colour added to the ground by the artist should be done with the coloured pencil pigments.
Submission is open to all artists - with the entry fees varying according to whether somebody is a full member, an associate member or a non-member. Work needs to be submitted in the form of good prints, no larger than A4 (8.25”x11.7”), photos or high resolution scans on a CD and an SAE is required if submissions need to be returned. Unlike CPSA, slides are not an acceptable medium for submission. At least one of the works entered must be for sale. Full details of entry are given in the guidance notes which accompany the entry form.

You probably have most control over how your work is viewed if submitting in the form of a print or photo as scans on a CD are subject to the quality of the monitor screen through which they are viewed - both at your end and their's! However given the international flavour of the judging process it may be that all images are converted to digital images.

UPDATE: UKCPS has advised me how they keep their selection process fair for everybody. Entries are never viewed by jury members as digital images through monitors. At present, the three jury members view all entries as print images at a standard size. The artist remains anonymous throughout the judging process. This means that any non-standard size prints sent are also re-scanned and re-printed to match that standard size. Copy sent on disc is printed straight out to the standard size and this eliminates the need to scan an image again. (Advice on standards for CD submission is also available from the Secretary. I've asked for more information about CD submissions and the 'standard size' and will update again when this has been received)

Hopefully in the near future entry can be via digital image over the internet as it already is for a number of web-based art competitions.

If you want to submit and have any queries, then you need to download the application forms and guidance notes from the website. Remember hours and hours spent on completing a work can be wasted if you want to enter and only take a few seconds to scan read an entry form (note my misunderstanding about how the images are viewed above!!!) You can always e-mail Pat Heffer, the UKCPS Secretary if you have any queries not covered by the notes. I've always found Pat to be most helpful and very prompt in her responses.

International artists please note this piece of guidance contained in the guidance notes!
In addition it is highly suggested that artists use their country’s postal service for shipping rather than UPS or other couriers who automatically pay VAT to the customs on the insured amount. The UKCPS is not responsible for VAT if it is charged upon entry of the artwork into the UK.
Artwork for exhibition is normally treated as free of tax in the UK by Customs and Excise - if clearly marked as such and the correct customs code used. Obviously if there is a problem with couriers it may be that the paperwork needs to be done more carefully. I personally have not had any problems or tax to pay when shipping artwork to international exhibitions and back again - using both the postal service and FedEx - but I have read (and reread) the instructions about what to do very carefully each time!

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  1. Hi Katharine, Aha..."Thoughts on this topic" instead of "comments" took me a bit to figure out where to comment. I have a couple of thoughts. First, you have raised my consciousness about the range and quality and possibilities of colored pencil fine art. These works are amazing! Also, your description of the type of work selected for the big shows fits what I've learned as well. One other thing I've been told is that the impact of the piece has to be both strong and obvious--practically instantaneous--since judges look at a piece so quickly. If it doesn't grab them or they can't make sense of it immediately, it's on to the next.

  2. Hi Jana - Gosh if that confused somebody like you I better make it 'comments' again pronto! Comments have dropped off since I changed it and I'd been wondering why...... ;)

    I can't agree with you more. Whether you're walking into a gallery or going through seven hundred odd slides (as the CPSA judges do) then one of the things which really helps a work stand out is.......standing out. Works which 'zap' you as soon as you see them are incredibly powerful when placed next to ones which are much quieter or less well designed.

    For me it's all about composition and design - which makes it much easier to say it than do it. Let's put it another way - I find it much easier to know it when I see it than I know how to do it! ;)

    For me - a piece has got to grab you and make you want to walk over to it and look at it more closely. from 30-50 feet away - or when flashed up for a few seconds.

    The best pieces then have yet another layer which pulls you in, in terms of how they are making a mark on the page (eg John Smolko's work - which I think is fantastic) or attention to detail (which applies to a lot of CP artists - so lots of competition there) or optical mixing of colours on the page - something which first attracted me to CP when I saw the CP work of Karen Anne Klein.


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