Monday, August 11, 2008

CPSA 16th Annual International Exhibition 2008 - Award winners

The Colored Pencil Society of America announced the award winners for the 16th Annual International Exhibition in Seattle at the Awards banquet on 1st August.

Empty Nest by Jeff George, winner of The CIPPY Best of Show and the Staedtler Award-$3,000
22" x 14", coloured pencil
copyright and courtesy of Jeff George
(do not use without written permission)

The top prizes were awarded as follows:
  • The CIPPY Best of Show and the Staedtler Award ($3,000) - Empty Nest by Jeff George, CPSA
  • The CPSA Award for Exceptional Achievement ($2,000) - Globophobic Porcupine by Paul Van Heest (you can see more of his work in this gallery - his images are always thoughtful and thought-provoking)
  • The Canson Fine Art Paper Award for Exceptional Merit ($1,000) - A Desert Power by Tonya Holland
  • The Prismacolor Award for Exceptional Merit ($1,000) - Transient Light by Constance Speth, CPSA
  • The Metro Washington DC District Chapter 109 MONA Award for Exceptional Merit ($1,000) - Charley, (The Creative Spirit) by John Smolko, CPSA
You can see a gallery of ALL the winning images on the CPSA website. I'm featuring three of the top prizewinners below.

The juror for the awards was Jeffrey Moose (Artist, Curator and Owner of the Jeffrey Moose Gallery, Seattle). The exhibition of work by selected artists continues at the Washington State Convention and Trade Center until 29th September (details at end).

Jeff George CPSA
This is my first time winning the Cippy Award, and I still haven't come back down to Earth!
Jeff George CPSA
I always knew that Jeff George would win the top award at the CIPFA exhibition one day - it was just a question of when! Jeff is a signature member of CPSA and has been consistently getting into CPSA exhibitions and then winning prizes with his entries for some time. In reviewing the galleries from previous exhibitions I counted an Airfloat Strongbox Award for outstanding recognition, a Prismacolor Award for Exceptional Merit, a Lyra Award for Excellence and three CPSA branch awards for excellence in addition to this year's prize. In recent years he's only missed being among the prizewinners in one year. I guess this makes him one of the top prize winners in CPSA's history.

Jeff seems to have a fascination with elements in the environment and texture and excels at rendering it in all its different guises - whether it's peeling paint on the woodwork as seen in his winning entry Empty Nest this year, or the sand and surf of 'Perpetual', the matchbox and contents in 'Death Row', the bleached car and contents in 'Baggage', the very curious surfaces of 'Butterfly', the contrast between the hard metal and vaporous atmosphere in 'Western Sky', or the skin and flesh of the figure seen through the glass bricks in 'Reticence'. All these works have won prizes in CPSA exhibitions.

When the works accepted for entry this year were announced I commented to Jeff that the subject matter and very restrained colour scheme of 'Empty Nest' very much reminded me of Andrew Wyeth's work. Jeff told me that he very much admires Wyeth and his work and that a couple commented in much the same way to him at the exhibition. He regards this as as the singlest greatest compliment he's ever received. Maybe Jeff can use his technical excellence in rendering in coloured pencil to find and capture in California some of the stillness and undercurrents of emotional content that characterise Wyeth's paintings of Pennsylvania and Maine?

Constance Speth CPSA

I first saw Constance Speth's work at the Annual Exhibition in Albuquerque in 2006 - and simply could not understand why her work had not won a prize as I thought it was outstanding. She excels at abstracting the ordinary and appears to be fascinated by how light transforms interiors. She's also a scribbler - a form of mark making which I love.

I found out from Jeff George that he is also a fan of her work
I too really enjoy the work of Constance Speth. She is one of my favorite colored pencil artists......Up close, her work has a delicate gauze-like feel.
Jeff George
What I can tell you, without even seeing it up close, is that Transient Light will have many layers of mark-making and transparent glazing executed with acute observation for form, colour and tone.
Constance Speth dissolves her subject in light or merges it with shadows to emphasize unity of foreground and background. She employs layers of colored pencil applied in a unique scribbled line of many hues. The network of lines forms transparent clouds and dense mats of rich and glowing color.
CPSA District Chapter 207 - members' gallery - Constance Speth
I searched on the Internet for images of Constance's work - but failed to find very much. I gather she's not a fan! However I did learn that Constance is a Professor Emeritus of the Art Department at Central Washington University, Ellensburg, WA from which she retired in 1995. One of her drawings is included in “The Best of Colored Pencil”, vol. II by Rockport Press.

John Smolko CPSA

The Metro Washington DC District Chapter 109 MONA Award for Exceptional Merit
Charley, (The Creative Spirit) by John Smolko, CPSA
40" x 30", coloured pencil
copyright and courtesy of John Smolko
(do not copy without written permission)

John Smolko is also a scribbler and it'll therefore come as no surprise that I'm a huge fan of John Smolko's work!
People like John Smolko (who recently won Grand Prize Winner of the American Artist 70th Competition) really stand out for me because of the way he has generated a new way of working with coloured pencil. I was very pleased to tell him so when I met him at the 2006 CPSA Exhibition in Albuquerque. I find his work inspirational.
Making A Mark - CPSA and UKCPS: originality in concept, design and execution
This year John has retired from teaching art in high school to become a full time professional artist and workshop instructor. He taught his very first workshop for a CPSA Convention this year and I gather the participants created beautiful scribble drawings!
Winning this award in this years CPSA exhibition was a real rush for me and I feel very fortunate to be associated with all the fine people in our organization. Again, what a wonderful way to start my new career as a full-time artist. I am living a dream.
John Smolko
I'm very fortunate in that John has kindly agreed to do an an interview with me for this blog in the near future.

CPSA District Chapter 207 - Seattle

CPSA 207, the branch which hosted this year's CPSA convention and exhibition, is based in Seattle and covers members of CPSA in Washington State and Oregon. You can can see a gallery of branch members work here. When you look down the list of members' names you'll realise that Washington and Oregon is an absolute 'hot bed' of well known coloured pencil artists and authors! It includes people like:
DC 207 has also produced a book (Why am I not surprised?! ;) ) explaining the finer points of working with coloured pencils. Northwest Colored Pencil Pointers is now available from DC207 and it contains the artwork and tips, techniques and processes of 47 coloured pencil artists working in the northwest.


The 17th Annual Exhibition will be held in Atlanta, GA in 2009 and the Host will be DC107 - Atlanta.

Those interested in coloured pencil art may want to take a look at the new page on the CPSA website for members' websites.



  1. Delighted to see UKCPS member Julie Douglas get an award, and thoroughly agree with your comments on all of the winners that you selected Katherine - some fine work.

  2. This is a comments by Julie Douglas who had difficulty posting a comment

    once again, can't manage to blog you, hope this form of contact will suffice. (and first of all, thanks so much for your constant hard work putting together so much information for artists, you are clearly tireless.)

    I attended the award ceremony for the cpsa show in Seattle and really enjoyed meeting the other artists. Like all shows, there were some fantastic pieces which DIDN'T win awards - maybe some time the judge will be a coloured pencil-ist, which would, I think, make for an interesting selection. For, while the judge selected what he liked, one wondered if subject became more important than skill, in which case, the hope of moving forward with coloured pencil as a serious medium may be compromised? It was great to see so many fine pieces, a great variety of styles and techniques - in particular, Bonnie Autens work was, as they say in Seattle, Awesome. And it was worth traveling all that way to see Jeff Georges amazing artwork.

    Best wishes

    Julie Douglas

  3. Julie - I'm not sure I agree with you.

    I think there has always been a focus on technical excellence - but technical excellence alone won't win respect for coloured pencil artists outside the coloured pencil community.

    My own view is that technical excellence in execution of a work - in whatever sort of style or technique an artist chooses to employ - is in a way a 'given' for any work selected for an exhibition of this sort. In other words it MUST be of a high standard.

    However, for coloured pencil artists to be taken seriously within the wider art community they must also excel in those fields where all other artists must also strive - that of concept and design. That's why having a judge who comes from outside the coloured pencil art community can be of such value. They judge pieces as art - pure and simple. IMO that's very definitely the way it should be.

    That's why John Smolko winning the American Artist 70th Competition was such a landmark achievement for coloured pencil. His work was up against people working in oils, acrylics, watercolours, pastels etc - and he won - because of his art and his style. That's precisely the sort of achievement which will help coloured pencil artist to be taken much more seriously within the wider art community.

    While it's good to applaud the winners at the CPSA Annual Exhibition, I also hope we see many more artists using coloured pencils entering their work in competitions open to all media - and doing well. That, for me, will be a sure sign that coloured pencils are being taken seriously as a medium. :)

  4. Julie - it was most remiss of me last night to fail to say "Congratulations" to you for your own award!

    Julie won an Award for Outstanding Recognition for her portrait "Dappled Son" - on the left hand side about half way down on the awards web page.


COMMENTS HAVE BEEN SUSPENDED AGAIN due to very silly ignorant people who leave spam comments without realising they have no benefit for them.

Please feel free to comment on my Facebook Page as my blog posts are always posted there (but please note anonymous comments are not published and I block and report spammers to Google and on Facebook)

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.