Thursday, November 21, 2013

Sarah Becktel, ArtSpectations Best of Show Winner (non-signature)

CPSA would like to feature our non-signature Best of Show winner, for the fall ArtSpectations, Sarah Becktel!  Her piece "Eternal Companions Diptych" is so elegant and unique.


Eternal Companions Diptych - Sarah Becktel
9.25x15.5 inches, Colored Pencil & Acrylic on Strathmore Mixed Media Board
 

Jeff George, the judge for the Fall ArtSpectations, had this to say about Sarah's work:
"Eternal Companions Diptych is a touching and compelling jewel. The uncomplicated composition with its subdued background, brings added focus to the solemn faces. A brave and powerful work."

We had the pleasure to speak with Sarah, to learn more about the art and the artist. 


Can you tell us a bit about your process and inspiration for your winning artwork?
My recent work has focused on the relationships between humans and animals; specifically how people choose to connect and engage with animals.  Taxidermy is this really bizarre practice in which an animal is first killed, and then its body is taken apart and the skin re-formed into this preserved object. In a way it’s quite gruesome, but at the same time, the practice requires a lot of work and technical skill.  The time and craftsmanship that goes into creating a taxidermied specimen suggests an appreciation of the animal and the work, and the result of that work is an animal being given the possibility of being observed and appreciated for much longer than its natural life would allow.  So for many people, I think taxidermy presents this complicated, mixed emotional response of sorrow, horror, awe, appreciation, and humor.  I’m really drawn to things that elicit such a wide range of opposing emotional responses; it just interests me.
I photographed these two sheep while I was participating in an art residency at Brush Creek Ranch in Wyoming.  They were hanging in a bar, but I wanted the drawing to convey more of an intimate, home setting.   I like the idea of these heads hanging in a house and overlooking a person’s ongoing life.  Even though they’re more object than animal, their life-like quality makes it easy to imagine them watching and thinking.   

How did you come to find a love of colored pencils?
All of my concepts start with preliminary sketches, and as I develop an idea, sometimes it feels like it should be an oil painting, and other times it feels like it should be a work on paper.  When I’m working on paper, I just find colored pencil to be the right fit for me.  It’s a very versatile medium capable of creating both loose, painterly effects and tight, elaborate details. 

Are you a self-taught or a classically trained artist?
I started studying with an exceptional artist named Rebecca Tait when I was 10.  I had always wanted to be “an artist,” but didn’t really know what that meant until then.  Rebecca’s focus is classical realism, and she gave me an amazing foundation in observational drawing.  From there I was hooked- I took art through high school while also taking additional classes at a few art schools in Philadelphia.  I started attending life drawing classes as soon as I was old enough to be admitted, and that was a huge benefit; working from a live model improved my drawing and observation skills immensely.   I went onto college and graduated from the Tyler school of Art with a BFA in painting.  Since then, I’ve continued to take occasional classes and workshops to further my studies of figurative drawing and painting.

Classical training has been a big part of my artistic life, but I think it’s important for artists to find balance with their instruction. As an adult artist, I’ve spent a lot of time just working alone in my studio.  You can grow and discover so much by working and experimenting on your own.  When I do take a workshop or class, I then take some time to myself to process what I learned and figure out how it best applies to my work. 

What do you love most about being an artist?
I love that I get to share my thoughts and ideas with the world in a visual way.  I often find it difficult to express myself with words, but I find it so fulfilling to create visual art that can express an idea or tell a story.  I strive to create work that hints at narrative while not giving away the whole story, because I really enjoy engaging the viewer and starting a dialogue.  I love to let the viewer fill in the blanks and finish the story.  Everyone brings their own history to the table when they view artwork, and this allows for endless possibilities of interpretation.  It’s really amazing.   

The hours are pretty great too!  I’m a late to bed, late to rise kind of person, so being in a field where I can make my own schedule is awesome.  Sometimes I draw at 2am just because I can.   

How do you see yourself progressing – as both an artist and as a person?  Where do you see yourself in the future?
As an artist, I hope to create artwork that is both fulfilling and relevant to me, while also being engaging and significant for viewers.  Of course I hope to establish a successful career where I am financially supporting myself through my art, but the quality and relevance of my work will always be my number one priority. 

Along with my position as Product Research Director for CPSA, I also work as an artist educator for Gamblin Oil Paint and Strathmore Artist Papers.  These jobs have given me the opportunity to educate artists about the materials they are using, which is such an essential part of an artist’s education.  There are so many products available, and it’s really important for artists to have the knowledge necessary to choose materials that are safe, high-quality, and the right products to support their specific working methods.   I love being able to help artists with this, and art materials education will be something that I continue to participate in throughout my life. 


What words of wisdom would you share with someone who is new to colored pencil art?
Colored pencil is a medium that lends itself to drawing and rendering in a very tight, realistic way.  That’s not a bad thing, it’s part of what I love about the medium.  But I would encourage artists not to get so wrapped up in the technical side of the medium, that they lose sight of why they’re creating art in the first place.  Great art is a balance between technique and concept, but I think a lot of beginning artists just focus on creating something that’s realistic looking.  Don’t take “that looks just like a photograph” as the ultimate compliment.  As visual artists, we have the opportunity to create work that surpasses what a camera can do.  And honestly, if it looks just like a photograph, why did we bother turning it into a painting or drawing in the first place?  
 
 
Thank you Sarah, for sharing a bit of yourself with us, here and through your artwork.  Congratulations once again on your win and the award of $250, you're very deserving!

 
To see more of Sarah's work, visit her website: www.sarahbecktel.com
To view the other winners and entries to ArtSpectations, visit: https://cpsa.fluidreview.com/
For more information on CPSA or to become a member, please visit: http://cpsa.org/

Monday, November 18, 2013

Donna Caputo, ArtSpectations Best of Show Winner (signature)

CPSA would like to feature our signature Best of Show winner for the Fall ArtSpectations, Donna Caputo, CPSA! Her drawing "Natasha" is as sweet as it is impeccable. 
 
Natasha - Donna Caputo, CPSA
10x13 inches, Colored Pencil on Stonehenge Paper
 

Jeff George, the judge for the Fall ArtSpectations, had this to say about "Natasha":

"The exquisite "Natasha" exudes a timeless quality. The warm glowing face pops with contrast against the soft dark clothing, presenting a pure and affecting work of art."

We had the pleasure to speak with Donna, to get to know more about her and her art. 

How did you come to find a love of colored pencils?
I was teaching an informal art class in portrait painting in oils when one of my high-school students brought in a work assignment from her school art class.  All of us were taken by this new medium.  I hadn’t used colored pencil except to color in maps in grade school.  I immediately encouraged my class to use their training in portraiture and venture into this new medium.  Soon I joined CPSA and the newly formed Chicago chapter 103, taking as many workshops as time and money would allow.

Are you a self-taught or a classically trained artist? What do you love most about being an artist? A classically trained artist in the Chicagoland area taught me all I know.  Although the media I used at that time was charcoal and oil, the training I received helped me make the transition into colored pencil.  I love to experiment with colored pencil and I appreciate the portability of it. Most of my work today has a painterly look.  “Natasha” was done on Windberg pastel paper with lots of layers and solvent.  Using a brush gave me a sense of oil painting.

How do you see yourself progressing – as both an artist and as a person?
Where do you see yourself in the future? The past several years have been spent introducing and mentoring new pencil painters.  In the Villages, where I live, I was the only pencil artist 15 years ago, but over the years with my mentoring, several very qualified teachers have arisen and took the reins to bring the number up to over 200 pencil painter artists here in our community.

What words of wisdom would you share with someone who is new to colored pencil art?
Learn the basics first.  There is no substitute for learning value, line and color.  The rest will fall into place.  It may seem slow at first, but believe me, you will find ways to speed up the process and to begin to experiment, bringing you fulfillment in your artistic endeavors.

 It's really great to get to know more about our members, thank you Donna, for sharing with us and giving us all a little insight into your world!  Congratulations once again on your win, and your award of $250!  It is very much deserved!
To see all submissions for the CPSA Fall ArtSpectations, go to https://cpsa.fluidreview.com/
To join CPSA or learn more about the organization, please visit http://cpsa.org/

Saturday, November 16, 2013

CPSA ArtSpectations Winners





The Colored Pencil Society of America (CPSA) would like to congratulate the winners of our very first ArtSpectations online juried exhibition. We have been looking forward to judge Jeff George’s decisions, and while each piece submitted was wonderful, only a handful can be selected as our winners.


Jeff has selected Donna Caputo’s “Natasha” as the winner of the Signature Best of Show. He had this to say about Donna’s beautiful work: “The exquisite "Natasha" exudes a timeless quality. The warm glowing face pops with contrast against the soft dark clothing, presenting a pure and affecting work of art.”


Natasha - Donna Caputo, CPSA
10x13 inches, Colored Pencil on Paper

Sarah Becktel’s “Eternal Companions Diptych” was Jeff’s selection as the winner of the Non-Signature Best of Show, and he had this comment about Sarah’s fantastic work: “"Eternal Companions Diptych" is a touching and compelling jewel. The uncomplicated composition with its subdued background, brings added focus to the solemn faces. A brave and powerful work.”

Eternal Companions Diptych - Sarah Becktel
9.25 x 15.5 inches
Colored Pencil & Acrylic on Mixed Media Board



Congratulations to our winners! Both pieces are extremely deserving of the awards given. Each Best in Show receives $250.  That buys a lot of colored pencils!


In addition to the two Best of Show awards, there were also five deserving honorable mentions in each category.


They include the following signature members: Eileen Sorg, CPSA for her image “Rock Concert”; Judith Shepelak, CPSA for her image “Tipped with Frost”; Carol E. Maltby, CPSA for her image “The Red Door”; Holly Siniscal, CPSA for her image “Graffiti”; and John Ursillo, CPSA for his image “Lord of the Dance”.


And the non-signature members: Caryn Coville for her image “Farm Fresh”; Cristina Iotti for her image "A(m)biti personali #1"; Julie Elizabeth Podstolski for her image “Quiet”; Andria Burchett for her image “Trencadis”; and Sharon Hester for her image "Motmot in Quintana Roo".


Judge Jeff George, CPSA was kind to share his thoughts of taking on such a difficult task in judging such amazing artwork:


“In choosing award winners for the inaugural ArtSpectations show, my focus was to showcase the diversity of the colored pencil medium, both with subject matter and with technique .


The chosen works display a high degree of technical skill, as well as meeting the standard criteria: good composition, creativity and color. The top picks for each category, were works which gave me a stronger emotional response.


I would like to give a loud and resounding thank you to all of the artists who entered the competition. There were simply too many masterful works to fit into the limited awards arena. The works on display make me proud to be associated with such an amazingly talented group of folks. Lastly, love and thanks to the CPSA for allowing me the opportunity to judge this show. I am grateful and honored.


Jeff George, CPSA”


We would like to take a moment to thank Jeff  in taking the time to critique each submission. It is no easy feat to judge such outstanding artwork, and he did an undeniably incredible job! Thank you, Jeff!


We would also like to thank all who entered artwork into CPSA’s first ArtSpectations exhibit and making it a resounding success. It takes courage to put yourself and your art out there to be critiqued and juried. We greatly look forward to seeing what will be in store for us next time.


Congratulations once again to all our Honorable Mentions, and to our Best of Shows Donna Caputo, CPSA and Sarah Becktel!
Stay tuned for more about our winners and our honorable mentions!
To see all entries from ArtSpectations, please visit https://cpsa.fluidreview.com/
If you are interested in becoming a member, or learning more about CPSA, please visit http://cpsa.org/

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The Deadline for ET! 10 is Fast Approaching!



 
Al Vesselli
Square Dance - 24x31 inches
Colored Pencils and Gesso
 

The deadline for Explore This! 10 is getting closer and closer, if you haven’t done so already, now is the time to finish up your artwork and get it entered.

This juried competition is all about combining a love of colored pencils with a love for other media. ET! 10 is our opportunity to showcase your skills in manipulating and balancing multiple mediums to create something exciting and unique.

All submissions must be predominantly colored pencil and must also be used with at least one other medium or element not allowed in the CPSA International Exhibition. Two and three dimensional works are welcome. Now is the time to show us something new and interesting!

All CPSA members who are juried into Explore This! 10 will be on their way to achieving their CPX signature status. To gain this honor, one must be accepted and appear in the ET! competition three times in a ten year period.
 
 
Cristina Iotti
Gravitazione Universale #6 - 19.7x19.7 inches
Colored Pencil and Graphite on Paper
 
 
There are a number of awards and cash prizes for ET! 10, including the Best in Show Award ($2000) and the EXPY Award. Artists accepted into the exhibition will have their work posted on our website at www.CPSA.org for the year of 2014! The top three winners are also invited to exhibit their winning artworks in the 22nd Annual CPSA International in 2014. All selected entries will be shown in a future issue of To the Point, the CPSA news magazine.

Submissions close November 15th—it’s coming up quickly!

To enter, go to www.callforentry.org and set up an account if you haven’t already. Then go to the Apply to Calls area and search for “colored pencil” to find the ET! 10 listing. The entry fee is $20 (just $15 for members), but the fun is free!

Nothing beats a great collection of artwork and friendly competition!
 
 
John Smolko, CPSA, CPX
Eddie, No. 2, Sketch - 25x20 inches
Colored Pencil and Oil Pastel
 

For more details on the Colored Pencil Society of America, or to become a member, please visit us at www.CPSA.org.