After Andrew Purdy recently retired, it didn’t take him long to figure out what to do with his spare time. After all, he has the perfect setup: a really comfortable chair, a great Ott light, colored pencils within arm’s reach, and his favorite baseball team on TV in view from his workspace. Art had always served as a kind of stress relief while he worked, so it was easy to devote much more time to it after retirement. He told us during a recent interview, “Art was a consistent part of my life since I was old enough to hold a pencil. My maternal grandfather was the driving force behind my love of and respect for art. I spent my summers at my grandparents’ home when my grandfather would sit me down on Sundays and we would copy frames from the comics section of the newspaper. I have fond memories of trying to replicate Annie, Alley Oop and Lil’ Abner in those days. With my Granddad’s tutelage I gradually began to sketch still-life subjects like my grandparents’ dog.” His parents were also instrumental in shaping his love for art at an early age – his mother, a painter and his father, a design engineer and skilled draftsman.
An accomplished, award-winning woodcarver, Andrew found himself at a loss after an operation on his hands a few years ago rendered him unable to work on his carvings. He was lured by a set of Prismacolor pencils that he had on hand and began drawing and sketching with them in lieu of the carving he could not do. After finishing two colored pencil pieces during his recovery, he has not looked back. He says of colored pencil as his medium of choice, “I have tried acrylics, oils and watercolors, but colored pencils offered a much better fit for me. They were not caustic like oils and their solvents, nor were there drying problems inherent with acrylics and watercolors. I could achieve detail and color saturation the way I wanted rather than being dictated by the performance of the medium itself.” He still carves wood, but has gained “more satisfaction with every colored pencil piece” he has created. As for his paper of choice, it’s Fabriano Artistico 140 lb. hot-press watercolor paper and occasionally, Stonehenge for graphite sketches and smaller colored pencil pieces.
Andrew Purdy (CA)
After participating in his CPSA district chapter for a couple of years, the president of the group encouraged him to enter in the international exhibition, which as he says, “turned out to be a good decision.” Indeed it did, as he won the second place District Chapters Award for Exceptional Achievement for Angler’s Prize. A beautifully rendered, freshly caught trout along side a fly rod and reel, set against a rustic wood background, Angler’s Prize speaks to Andrew’s love of nature. He told us, “All of my life, I have been involved in everything that would take me outdoors. As a kid growing up in central New Mexico, my dad took my four brothers and me fishing. One brother and I have continued with this tradition by fly-fishing around the southwest for many years together. I love the mountains and streams away from the sights, smells and sounds of the city. As a result, that has been a huge influence in my artwork and reflects back on better days. Occasionally I will receive a request for something other than a wildlife or wilderness subject. Usually those requests are from a family member or friend for a particular subject. Dog portraits have been the bulk of those projects, which, as a dog lover, I thoroughly enjoy.”
Andrew is fortunate to have access to wildlife rehabilitation groups and frequents these organizations on a regular basis. Most of the groups focus on birds of prey. Having that access allows him to photograph these majestic birds, which eventually end up as part of his colored pencil art. He was touched by one of the “patients” at a local institute, as he tells us, “I was also very fortunate to visit an adult injured bald eagle on the island that members of the institute were caring for. Pimu, a female bald eagle was unable to fly and hunt for herself and was being lovingly cared for by the institute at an aviary on the island. I was very fortunate to have been allowed to enter her holding area and take photographs of her. I completed two colored pencil pieces from a compilation of the photos from that trip.” At another center, caregivers “nurse many birds back to a state where they are either returned to the wild or housed in captivity for the remainder of their lives.” The contact with the people and animals at these institutions has allowed Andrew to amass a large collection of reference material for his artwork, which is done using his many photographs.
You can see Pimu and Andrew’s other colored pencil artwork and woodcarvings by visiting his website at: Andrewpurdyart.com. All the artwork from the 21st annual international exhibition is on display at the City of Brea Art Gallery through September 13th. You can see images of the award winners at: http://www.cpsa.org/coloredpencilartists/21/aw2013.html.