Wednesday, February 13, 2013

A Moment With Two of Our Explore This! 9 Winners

For its ninth show, Explore This! offers some of the most diverse artwork the exhibition has displayed in its history.  Artists offer an exciting range of styles from the abstract to the ultra-realistic and from poignant to whimsical.  There truly is something for everyone in ET!9.  This year, as in past years, artists used their creativity with a variety of media including travertine stone, crayon, gold leaf, textured gel medium and resin, among many others.  If you haven’t yet seen Explore This! 9, you can view the online exhibition here:

We are fortunate this year to have spent a few moments with EXPY winner, Eileen Sorg, CPSA, CPX (WA) and our second-place winner, Deborah Friedman, CPSA (MA) to explore their thoughts about their work and the creative process while working on their ET! entries.  Here’s what our winning artists had to say…

Eileen Sorg is from Kingston, Washington.  She earned her CPSA signature status in 2006 and her CPX in 2011. Her piece titled, “Foiled Again” earned her the Best of Show and EXPY award, sponsored by Prismacolor.

Best of Show EXPY Winner "Foiled Again"

CPSA: Eileen, how did you come up with the composition for “Foiled Again?”
Eileen:  "Foiled Again" evolved entirely around that old skate. I had bought it several years ago because I liked its shape and I felt there was a story there. Many of my drawings start this way, their beginnings centered around an item that caught my eye somewhere. In this case, that skate started to look like a chariot to me. From there I just had to cast my players and put my story to paper.

CPSA:  How did you develop the ink, watercolor and colored pencil “formula” for your artwork?
Eileen:  I learned this mixed media process from an amazing artist and now friend, Sueellen Ross. I took her class many years ago where she taught her technique. Sueellen is a much better painter than I and she spends more time on the watercolor. I try to get to the pencil part of things as quick as possible since that is more my strength.

CPSA:  "Foiled Again" is listed in the exhibition as “not for sale.” Have you decided to keep it in your collection, or have you had the good fortune of selling it?
Eileen:  The story of the purchase of this piece is pretty simple. I was working on "Foiled Again" while working at some festivals this past summer. The collector saw it while I was in Michigan and emailed me a few days later to purchase it even though it was still not finished. Some drawings are like that - they just have an appeal that finds a buyer right away. Once completed, I shipped the piece to its new home in LA.

CPSA: For artists trying to create realistic art from unrealistic settings, such as a squirrel riding a roller skate, what is your advice to them in creating those compositions so that they appear realistic? Do you use real objects or photo references?
Eileen:  To create these sort of fantastical pieces I find it helpful to work from many sources. I use photos for the animal subjects and to "freeze" my lighting for the duration of the drawing. I set up the inanimate objects in a still-life box on a rolling toolbox in my studio, which I can move into place as needed. Many times this will get me about 80% of the information I need to complete the drawing, for the rest I rely upon my unfettered imagination. I think that is the soul of my current work, that 20% that is sort of unplanned and, until that moment, unseen outside of my mind's eye.

CPSA:  What is on the drawing board next and what are your artistic plans for the coming year?
Eileen:  Rabbits are showing up a lot for me right now. Not cutesy rabbits but more stern and glib. Crows are always involved because they are such great subjects for telling stories. Every situation I put them in is always a bit believable because they are so intelligent. I am also moving forward into children's book illustrations and a series of copper plate etchings so there will be lots to see from me this year.
"Bending Your Ear"
Eileen will be offering two 2-day workshops this spring to teach her technique. The first is March 16th and 17th in Shoreline, WA and the second is May 18th and 19th at her studio in Kingston, WA.  Space is limited.  Please contact Eileen at for more information.

Deborah Friedman is our second place winner for her piece titled, “Spirit Stones.” Deborah creates her artwork from her studio in Wellesley, MA.  She earned her CPSA status in 2011.

Second Place Winner "Spirit Stones"

CPSA: Deborah, you’ve done several different pieces centered around beautiful stones.  Where do you find your subject matter?
Deborah:  I have been collecting stones for quite some time now, mostly finding them on beaches in Rhode Island.  Friends have also brought me unique stones from all over the world, including from the Dead Sea and Turkey.  I first did a stones piece as a silent auction donation for the CPSA Chapter 112 Juried Show in 2008.  (See "Beach Stones" below.)  It received so much attention, including from the DerWent Pencil Company (who commissioned me to do a drawing with their graphite pencils) that I decided to explore several ideas I had with stones over the course of one summer.  When doing those exploratory drawings I got the idea to put stones in vases and add water, enabling me to play around with light, color and shape distortions, the meniscus line, and much more.

"Beach Stones"

CPSA: The juror, Mana Hewitt found humor in your piece, “Spirit Stones.” She asked, “Could those rocks be smiling?” They really do appear to be happy...was that your intent?
Deborah:  My intent was to convey a variety of emotions in the stone surfaces/faces, from happy to chagrined, perplexed and puzzled.  I first pursued this idea in the piece I did for the CPSA’s silent auction held in Covington, KY.  But those stones were laid in a dry, clear bowl, and seen from a bird’s eye viewpoint.  (See "Stone Faced" below.)

"Stone Faced"

CPSA: Much of your artwork is derived from nature.  What about nature inspires you and what about nature do you wish to convey in your work?
Deborah:  That’s a tough question to answer!  I love nature, and find it interesting and challenging to juxtapose particular natural elements that interest me in new, and hopefully, fresh ways.  Stones with feathers or leaves. Stones in water.  Birds, eggs, nests, and leaves have been longstanding fascinations for me, but I have for the most part been focusing on stones in a variety of formats recently.

CPSA: Do you have a favorite surface (paper) and favorite pencils you use in your work?  How did you incorporate graphite into this mixed-media piece?
Deborah:  I have experimented with working on sanded surfaces and boards, but always gravitate back to Strathmore Bristol Board, or Canson Mi-Tientes papers.  I used to use Prismacolor Pencils exclusively, but have recently begun experimenting with Faber Castell Polychromos and Lyra Splendor Pencils.  I also sometimes will layer Caran D’Ache Supracolor II pencils (blended with water) under the dry layers.  The graphite in “Spirit Stones” is used in the glass and the background shadowing.  The stones are entirely Prismacolor Pencil.

CPSA: What are you working on now and what are your artistic plans for the coming year?
Deborah:  I have been doing a series of stones drawings on Canson Mi-Tientes, exploring a new manner of “joining” the stones in a still-life format.  These new drawings (there are 6 so far) will be on my website soon, which is currently being re-designed.  I haven’t updated my website in over a year, and have about 20 new pieces to add to the galleries.  I also plan to do another large, colorful stones in water/vase still-life, and perhaps another bird drawing.  I’ve always wanted to incorporate an owl into a snowy landscape.  Technically, I also plan to experiment on a small scale with CP on cradle boards, varnishing the pieces and leaving them unframed.

Deborah will be offering a five-week intermediate colored pencil course through Wellesley College Botanic Gardens beginning Thursday, May 23rd.  Click on the following link for a brochure:
Deborah’s class information is on page 20 of the brochure 

Friday, February 1, 2013

CPSA Announces Explore This! 9

CPSA is pleased to present the ninth annual Explore This! online exhibition.  Explore This! (ET!) is a juried competition of mixed-media artwork focused around the main medium of colored pencil.  Out of 298 entries, 53 were selected to appear in the exhibition.  Thirteen of those entries were selected as award winners.  The best of show “EXPY” award of $2,000 is sponsored by Prismacolor and the $1,500 second prize is sponsored by CPSA. The top award went to Eileen Sorg, CPSA, CPX of Kingston, Washington for her piece, “Foiled Again.”  The second place winner was Deborah Friedman, CPSA of Wellesley, Massachusetts for her piece, “Spirit Stones.”  Ms. Sorg achieved her CPSA status in 2006 and CPX in 2011.  Ms. Friedman achieved her CPSA status in 2011. 

 Eileen Sorg, CPSA, CPX (WA)
"Foiled Again"
Colored Pencil, Watercolor, Ink
12 x 27 inches
Not For Sale

This year’s ET! juror is Mana Hewitt.  Ms. Hewitt is a director of undergraduate studies and gallery director for McMaster Gallery in the Department of Art at the University of South Carolina in Columbia.  When asked about selecting the winning entries, she said, “In selecting the award winners I found that first place and Best in Show, “Foiled Again” by Eileen Sorg, was exceptional in process and content.  Sorg skillfully pushed beyond the expected to create a wonderful visual pun.”  She continued, “Second place, “Spirit Stones” by Deborah Friedman, manipulated transparency, light and reflection with exceptional skill and good humor. Could those rocks be smiling?”  CPSA expresses gratitude to Mana Hewitt for serving as juror and the insight on her award choices.  
Deborah Friedman, CPSA (MA)
"Spirit Stones"
Colored Pencil, Graphite
17.5 x 13 inches

ET! 9 is now on display and will be available on our website through January 31, 2014.  You can see the exhibition now by clicking the following link:  Congratulations to all our winners and accepted artists!