Saturday, August 04, 2012

Coloured Pencil Society of America Annual Exhibition 2012 - Awardwinners

Last night the awardwinners for the CPSA 20th Annual International Exhibition were announced at the Friday Night Awards banquet at the CPSA Convention in Cincinnati

CPSA 20th Annual International Exhibition - Awards
Below you will find the Award Winners.  Links in the name of the individual winner below is to their website if they have one.  Links in the title of the piece are to the image of the artwork on the awards site.

Obviously I can't get to see this exhibition so instead I've provided comments on some of the individual works - including a few aspects which puzzled me.  At the end I've provided a summary of thoughts which came to mind once I'd looked at them all.

Note that CPSA rank awards of the same value as equal and order artists in alphabetical order within each award group.

  • CIPPY Award & CPSA Best of Show $3000 - September Hydrangeas (10 x 16 inches), Liz Guzynski (North Carolina Raleigh Durham District Chapter 114).  I really like the colour palette and the balance of colours in this work.  It also works well in an abstracted sense.  It's rewarding to see that botanical art in coloured pencils is now getting a much higher profile within CPSA as well as UKCPS.  It's a medium which is particularly well suited to botanical art and it's a genre which has some very serious collectors. Liz is a member of CPSA but does not yet have signature status.  It's always nice to see a member achieve the top prize before they get their signature status
  • The CPSA District Chapters Award for Exceptional Achievement $2000 - Garlic in a New Light (10 x 15 inches), Cecile Baird, CPSA (Ohio) Working with black and white is always a challenge for CP - but subtleties don't always translate well to the screen. I suspect that if this work won this prize it must look a lot more impressive in person.
  • The Dixon Ticonderoga Award for Exceptional Merit $1000 - Answered Prayer (11 x 13 inches), Rhonda Nass, CPSA (Wisconsin).  The tonal values and back story in this almost monochromatic work appeal to me.
  • The Sanford Prismacolor Award for Exceptional Merit $1000 - Fair Food (13 x 21.5 inches), Gretchen Parker, CPSA (South Carolina) Wrappings have been a traditional challenge for art school students and also a constant theme in CP artwork which wins prizes in the annual exhibition.  The piece looks impressive from a technical perspective, however from a personal perspective I would like to see more 'new' subject matter.
  • The Staedtler North America Award for Exceptional Merit $1000 - Patty  (18.75 x 28.62 inches), CJ Worlein (Oregon - Portland District Chapter 201)  Judges often seem to like CP artwork with excellent treatment of hair.  I do like the composition and lighting in this portrait as well.  Also note how big this piece this is.  CJ won the top prize last year.
  • Award for Outstanding Achievement $800 - Trapped  (11.5 x 15.5 inches), Lana Gloschat (Missouri) A poignant piece which focuses on the nature of skin and eyes in older people - but the subject goes beyond that.  I'm unclear whether or not Lana is a member of CPSA or whether she came through the open entry.
  • Award for Outstanding Achievement $800 - Good Day Sunshine (10 x 8 inches), Paul Lundberg (Minnesota) Another portrait which highlights the nature of skin in older people
  • Award for Outstanding Achievement $800 - I Turn the World to Ice  (25 x 29 inches), Dean Rogers, CPSA (Michigan) 
  • Award for Outstanding Recognition $600 - Pumpkin...Topside, Inside & Outside  (20 x 36 inches), Nancy Suffolk Guerine (Georgia) This is a large triptych which provides a neat way of observing the nature of the pumpkin.  The central image appears to be impressive - I'd have really liked to see a larger image.  My personal preference would have been to have the last pumpkin without the grass as the green draws my eye and that's not the subject.
  • Award for Excellence $400 - Off the Beaten Bath  (7 x 10 inches), Joseph Crone (Indiana) Photorealism.
  • Award for Excellence $400 - The Home of the Brave  (18 x 24 inches), Jeff George, CPSA  (California) Jeff has an impeccable track record in terms of winning prizes at CPSA exhibitions. His technique is excellent - however there's more to it than that. What I really like about Jeff George's art is when he makes me think.  I rate intellectual content very highly - particularly when it isn't in your face.  This image is quiet and thought-provoking - and highly contemporary - as in art about today.  Why not take another look?
The Home of the Brave by Jeff George CPSA
  • Award for Excellence $400 - Pumpkins in a Line  (8.66 x 20.07 inches), Shinji Harada, CPSA (Japan).  Shinji won Best in Show in 2010.
  • Award for Excellence $400 - Psychedelic Clay 1 (10.5 and 16.5 inches), Blair Jackson (Virginia) A curious juxtaposition of a low key monochromatic portrait and a patterned background in high key colours.
  • Award for Excellence $400 - How Eye Wonder? (24 x 32 inches), Buena Johnson (California) A large piece with a neat idea.  It's good to see an artist who is producing artwork which surprises and challenges the eye.  However I'm not sure about the shape of the tree in terms of width relative to the height of the hoarding.
  • Award for Excellence $400 - Dust and Thunder (28 x 34 inches), Lynda Schumacher, CPSA (Michigan) A very large piece - obviously working from photographic references.  I do like some of the subtlety re the colour in the light effects - but I'm very puzzled by the light source.
I'm going to start with a perennial comment I'm apt to make about coloured pencil artwork!  While skill in rendering is always to be admired it isn't enough.  I always admire those who do excellent work in rendering - and it's very evident that there's lots to see that is excellent - but I do want to see something else that also impresses me.

Hence I'd really love to know more about what the judge (Jamie Markle Publisher and Editorial Director, Fine Art Community, F+W Media, Inc.) was looking for when he selected the pieces for the exhibition and the prizes.  I mention this because CPSA has had previous exhibitions where Judges have provided feedback - and that's always incredibly valuable for all artists including those who were not selected or did not win prizes.  I'm wondering whether any feedback will be forthcoming - it would be great if it did.  (Note: Did anybody else notice how few animals made it to the awards page compared to previous years?)

I observe a strong bias towards realism - and even photo/hyper realism - in the work selected for prizes.  I do recognise the strong American preference for hyper-realism.  (American artists who see artwork from the annual exhibitions of British art societies on this blog will understand why I comment on this).

My own view is that it would be really nice to see more work which indicates it's pencil art and not oil paintings - or even that not all oil paintings are precise in their rendering of subject matter.  There is no artwork that I can see on the website which demonstrates the special characteristics of pencils, their scope for mark-making and what can be done with coloured pencils so it doesn't look like a painting in another medium!  (If it's good enough for David Hockney...... etc)

Perhaps because of the emphasis on realism, the prizewinners also incline towards "traditional" within the framework of contemporary art (as in "art of today").  A couple of pieces look rather more contemporary - as in not constrained by conventional notions of subject matter or what artwork should look like.  I'm less clear whether this traditional approach is another "American" influence as to taste in subject matter.  I also found myself imagining what David Lee (Show me the Monet) would have to say - especially whether or not he'd ask his omnipresent three word question.

I suggest people review the sizes of many of the works.  As with other art societies it's not uncommon for exhibition pieces to be larger than other works which artists may typically produce.  Larger pieces have more scope to impress in exhibition.

You can see the 20th Annual International Exhibition at The Carnegie, Visual and Performing Arts Center1028 Scott Boulevard, Covington, KY 41011 until

Judging by the President's photos which I've seen on Facebook, the gallery provides an ideal setting and the photos of the exhibits that I saw suggest that each is well hung and well lit.  It's a good looking exhibition.

Selected Artists:  You can see the names of all the artists selected for the exhibition in my earlier post - CPSA 20th International Exhibition 2012 - Selected artists.  I'm expecting that CPSA will be producing a CD of all the artwork accepted for exhibition.

More information about CPSA

More information:  You can find out more about coloured pencils in my website - Coloured Pencils - Resources for Artists