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


  1. I found the award winning work to be as it has been in the past-top draw. There has been a consistent thread over the years regarding the art that usually gets selected. I have noticed that every award winning piece that I have seen indicates that the artist has a through grounding in drawing.
    It would be great to see some work selected that is more impressionistic or even non-objective. I agree with your commentary that it would be nice to see work that demonstrates what can done with colored pencils rather than have it look like another medium. Perhaps this is why the CPSA has another juried show that allows for exploring the use of colored pencils with other media. If I remember the CPSA is very strict in its insistence that only colored pencil can used with perhaps the use of some alcohol to blend. I think that this "restriction" forces the artist to really concentrate on art because for the annual juried show they cannot rescue the piece by using even a "touch"of another drawing media. Again if I remember correctly the CPSA is very strict on framing standards. This in my opinion creates a very professional looking exhibition. I do wish that they would make available their lightfastness rating book to non-members even if they charge more for it.To all of this years award winners and those who did not win but were selected -congratulations! This is one of the more competitive juried shows for an artist to be accepted into.

    1. Good points and thanks for your detailed comment.

      My critique is oriented towards highlighting on what's not being shown rather than what is. It's amazing what people can do with coloured pencils - but I'd love to see the complete range of what is possible! :)

      When I see coloured pencils being used by artists who are not "coloured pencil artists" there is no use of other media to make their drawings high quality and interesting. It is possible to use coloured pencils on their own on paper and to create fabulous drawings which don't look like paintings! :)

      I'm thinking I maybe need to do a post about "coloured pencils can also do this...."!

  2. I was interested in your comment about feedback from the judges, Katherine. I recently entered one of my textile artworks into a local exhibition and was 'rejected'. That's part of the game, but I would dearly love to have some feedback from the judges on whether they saw any artistic merit in my piece, for example, or whether it left them completely unmoved... I've been wondering about the etiquette, or lack of, in trying to approach them to ask... Do you have any thoughts or knowledge on this?

    1. I think competition organisers and art societies in general are completely missing an opportunity. There's an awful lot of artists out there who want independent good quality feedback.

      If there's one thing that "Show me the Monet " opened my eyes to it's that people want feedback even if it involves expense and even if it hurts. Feedback is essential to getting better - a feedback loop is a key part of any system for improvement

      My view is that you can but ask. People can only say 'No comment'. However you MUST avoid asking if the rules say there will be strictly no discussion or correspondence - as there's a reason for that. You don't want judges to be put off because they feel like they're going to be pestered for feedback.

    2. Thanks, Katherine, I might do just that this week!

    3. Hi Katherine, I really have concerns on the issue of 'feedback'. You are right many of the applicants on 'Show Me the Monet' wanted feedback or as many of them said 'they appreciated the critique'... I find this a little odd as it smacks a little of a lack of confidence. I hope I am wrong but if an artist submits a piece to a competition, they are doing so in the hope that it is a finished piece which is worthy to be judged on it's merit. The danger with feedback is - it is never the same and an artist risks trying to please judges which can be an issue if you enter several competitions and get different comments from a number of judges.
      I think getting through to a competition validates you as an artist especially if you are an emerging artist.
      The painting I submitted for SMTM won an award at the Society of Women Artists exhib in 2009 and made it through to the SMTM Mall Galleries exhib on a knife edge. I enter juried exhibitions and sometimes I get through sometimes I don't but I have learned to accept ultimately it is down to the judging criteria - whatever that might be. I just move on...
      In other words I am not sure asking for feedback necessarily helps.

    4. The thing is I don't think everybody is confident and I know for certain that many artists can do better.

      For me the priority is to provide feedback to those who just miss out on getting picked. I've had work returned before now with the D (for doubtful) on the back and wished I knew why it didn't quite make it.

      Let me give you an example.

      One of the art exhibitions I used to enter involved the gallery owner picking the work she wanted to exhibit. On one occasion a friend submitted a work which was turned down. As it happened because we were in the gallery delivering our work, the gallery owner was able to tell us why she was rejecting it. The work was fine but the frame was not and bottom line the gallery would not display the work in the frame it was in. I got agreement that I'd arrange for the frame to be changed (as friend did not live in London) and brought the work back two days later. The work sold before the Private View to an existing collector.

      Now if we hadn't had the feedback, we wouldn't have known why the work was rejected, would have not tried to fix it and the work would not have been exhibited and sold. Moreover the same mistake re framing would have been made again and again. In this instance the feedback produced a win, win, win solution for all concerned- including my framer who got a bit of unexpected work!

      The thing is people make mistakes - and none of produce our best work to start with. I'm very firmly on the side of the wisdom of getting feedback in order to improve.

      Interestingly I'm not sure it needs to be the jurors that give it.

    5. Hi Katherine
      I think I agree with you in that regard particularly with the illustration given. After my last exhibition in Taunton, I was asked not to bother to frame any of my paintings (framing is another subjective area). I am from the old school where the framing was an intrinsic part of the picture - but then you get advice, son't bother to spend too much on frames cos the buyer may not like it. i am beginning to feel the question to frame or not to frame is a subject for another discussion.
      Suffice to say, I do see your point entirely and where you are coming from - that the decision to accept or reject a painting doesn't always come from the same perspective as the artist's and if we don't ask we will never know. Good point and thanks for sharing that...

  3. There is some really great work here, it's hard to pick a favorite.
    Colored pencil artists seem to be out there on their own much like botanical artists, or maybe that is just my perception.

    I certainly don't intend that as a negative comment as I like both.
    It's just the way there seems to be some isolation in the art societies of each from other art societies like oil and watercolor or portrait societies.
    They seem to exist separately.

    As for your comment:
    "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."

    There is, in this show at least, a bias towards realism and photo/hyper realism and although I'm not sure that's strictly an American trait I too would prefer to see a wider range represented.

    In fact I have often suspected that artists who work in COLORED pencil have in common certain personality traits or are cut from the same cloth so to speak, gravitating to the medium for its precision. Again, not a bad thing, just an observation.

    I have noticed the same in other art vocations and mediums/techniques.

    I also suspect that colored pencil artists see their medium more as painting than drawing, much like pastel artists.
    Maybe that's the reason for the lack of work that shows the marks of pencil rather than hide them. To them it would be drawing.

    I would like to hear the views of some colored pencil artists on this.

    1. I think that's why I pipe up on this topic - I'm very much an artist who draws rather than an artist who paints!

    2. I am a coloured pencil artist and I fall into the category you describe. My work does not show any pencil lines. It does look like a painting. I personally love bright colour... one of the reasons I love my coloured pencils so much. I love the medium for its control and its capacity for fine, intricate detail. I do not sketch. David, you are correct in saying that coloured pencil artists are different - not cut from the same cloth as artists who use other media. I know I am not alone in this thinking. CP artists actually joke good naturedly about this! I was at the convention in Kentucky for the first time. Since I joined CPSA a year ago, I have come to know so many fellow cp artists. It was such a great experience, and I loved the artwork. Realism gets a bad rap so often - it is so refreshing to talk to people of like mind after so many years of backhand comments and insinuations about realism in art.

    3. Good to hear you've had such a positive experience with CPSA

      I'm curious about your last comment and what you think people say about realism. My own view is that it's not realism per se which gets the backhand comments - IMO such comments are mostly related to over-reliance on photographs.

  4. The CPSA for many years and in a number of how-to books championed the pursuit of color pencil "painting" as opposed to "drawing". In an earlier time color pencil was the medium of choice for children and amateurs. It was perceived as an easy medium to master. That perception hurt those artists using CP who wanted to be taken seriously by collectors and galleries. The push toward CP as painting was, in my opinion, an attempt to elevate this lowly perception and get CP on a par with more "serious" mediums. The obliteration of marks and the complete coverage of the drawing paper was essential in getting a painting-like finish. Many CP artists enthusiastically adopted this approach because they wanted to compete with oil, acrylic and watercolor painters. When you look on artist's websites and the CPSA site you never see CP work referred to as "drawing" even though professional galleries and museums classify it as such. I guess it's hard for CP artists to step back from this approach. I hope in the future CP artists can begin to feel confident moving back to more mark making in their work. I know that's what I'm interested in doing.

    I saw the exhibit in Covington right after it was hung. It is a sprawling exhibit that filled nearly every wall surface on both floors of the Carnegie building, including hallways and next to the elevator. Whoever hung the exhibit had a daunting task and did a great job. I too would like to know what the judge was thinking in terms of some of his award selections. There were a number of other pieces, in my opinion, that were deserving of recognition--more so than some of the winners. Again that's my personal opinion and I'm not trying to disparage any of the winners. Nearly all of the exhibit was photo based realism done in a tightly rendered style. I would have also liked to see a short statement beneath each accepted entry explaining the concept behind their respective pieces.

  5. I posted some photos of the exhibition space at You don't have to include this in your comments stream, but thought I would let you know they're online if you would personally like to view a few more photos than what CPSA has provided.

  6. I was in the colored pencil exhibition in Covington this year. That is to say my piece Culinary Color Wheel was.

    I think the act of no mark making and blending any traces of them comes from the same trend in graphite. As a student in art (many moons ago) we were taught that method using graphite - using stumps or even fingers to get soft edges and subtle gradations. It is a precursor to doing the same thing in oils chiaroscuro style.

    To be fair in art school we did also learn about line and how to use it but that is not what most people stuck with.

    As far as the winners picked I think Jamie did a good job. I didn't get to see the show, but did see many of the pieces online with a mad search. Going to shows in the past I have to say that those pieces that look like oils and are photorealism are so darn impressive in person. As far as having not much in the expressive, illustrative, or abstract area - they may just not have had many entries in those styles this year. I'd love to hear about that from anyone who saw the slide show of entries this year and if any got into the show that I did not find online.

    Nicole Caulfield


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