Sunday, February 9, 2014

Interview With Susie Garrett, Explore This! 10 Best of Show Award Winner

We had the opportunity to speak with Susie Garrett, CPSA's Explore This! 10 Prismacolor Best of Show and EXPY award winner. Here we can learn more about the artist and her work.

Susie Garrett - Prismacolor Best of Show and EXPY award winner
Flight Patterns, 28 x 28 x 1 inches
colored pencil, rusted metal, screws on bristol vellum

Flight Patterns is a remarkable mixed media piece - please tell us about your motivation and inspiration for it.

Inspiration for my work comes from my environment, everyday scenes with the focus being on architectural imagery, early morning or late in the day. My studio is in a building that was once a shoe factory. Rusted machinery, chipped paint, old wood floors and sunrise views are a few encounters that inspired Flight Patterns. Once the piece was finished, many of the shapes I had subconsciously created reminded me of birds, hence the name.

Susie Garrett
Stairs Diptych, colored pencil on bristol paper

 Our winning image has some very industrial overtones and materials used.    What prompted the use of rusted metals and hardware - could you please share a bit about your working process for combining colored pencil with these materials?

I also do works in 3-D, so combining wood, metals, hardware, and found objects into constructed pieces has become second nature to me. The colors found in rust match my color palate of choice, warm colors. These metals and colored pencils share some of the same qualities; their texture, actual and simulated; the variety and subtle changes of color which create rich surfaces. After compositional sketches, Flight Patterns began with a graphite line drawing on bristol vellum 400 lb. paper. I have a general picture in my mind of how the metals and colored pencil will be combined, but only after completing much of the drawing in colored pencil does this merger occur. Once I began combining the two materials, each completed step tells me what to do next. The bristol paper is adhered to 3/4" plywood, providing a firm base for which to nail and screw the items to the piece.

Susie Garrett
Lady Gravell's Party Hat, colored pencil on paper and mixed media

When did you discover your love of colored pencils, and are they your preferred medium to work with?
I have been using graphite and colored pencil for over 30 years. I enjoy the precision the medium affords me. Even though colored pencil is a time consuming medium to work in, I find it relaxing and it is my medium of choice.

Susie Garrett
The Exchange, colored pencil on paper and mixed media

Many artists have a message for the word, a deeper meaning they wish to express - what is your message to us all?

Recycling, reusing, and taking care of the environment are issues important to me. I would be pleased if my work, through use of material and presentation, inspired the viewer to feel the same. 

Susie Garrett
Parking Garage, colored pencil on paper

What is next for you in the art world - any future exhibits, projects or plans you would like to share with us?

Even though I have been working as an artist for over 30 years, I am somewhat new to this. I don't have, but need, gallery representation in an area that will support my work. Any takers? I want to complete a body of work in the same vein as Flight Patterns that would be my response to an industrial area, either vacated like Detroit or something still in operation. Acquiring funding and permission are the challenges. Until then I will continue working on similar pieces, using my environment as inspiration, and creating a series to be exhibited locally in 2015.

Susie Garrett - the Artist

Where can we find more of your artwork?
Susie Garrett Studio 126
Lowe Mill Arts and Entertainment
Huntsville, AL

On the Lowe Mill website, I am located under medium which is drawing or mixed media.
Emails are welcome with questions regarding my work.

CPSA would like to congratulate Susie once again on being awarded the Prismacolor Best of Show and EXPY awards for the Explore This! 10 Exhibition.

To learn more about the Colored Pencil Society of America, or to become a member, please visit

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Explore This! 10 Winners Announced

This year’s Explore This! 10 exhibition is an exciting one including a broad range of genres from the abstract to the realistic and all predominantly in colored pencil. 

Susie Garrett - Prismacolor Best of Show and EXPY Award
Flight Patterns, 28x28x1 inches
Colored Pencil on Vellum Bristol, Rusted Metal, Screws

The Colored Pencil Society of America encourages the creative use of colored pencils. Exhibitions such as Explore This! give our members and other artists a venue to experiment with mixed media. Be it in two dimensions or three, with other mediums, or in conjunction with found objects, the colored pencil can shine in unexpected usage.

CPSA members selected for Explore This! three times within ten years earn signature status, which entitles them to proudly wear the “CPX” label after their names. 

Our esteemed juror, Amy Galpin, Ph.D., had some wonderful things to say about the exhibition:
“I was drawn to images that represented something new or different. Even a traditional portrait can offer something dynamic in the smallest details such as a psychologically intense expression, the color of a shirt, the pose of the figural form. Whether in the portraits chosen or in other types of compositions, I looked for elements that caught me by surprise, inspired awe, or resonated with historical and cultural meanings. Susie Garrett’s work caused me to pause the longest, to reflect on its formal qualities, and to ponder its hidden implications.”

Tanja Gant, CPSA - CPSA Great Explorations Award for Exceptional Achievement
Shadows, 8x10 inches
Colored Pencil, Graphite

The artwork selected for awards are beautiful, creative, and technically proficient. CPSA is proud to announce the following winners for Explore This! 10:

Susie Garrett - Prismacolor Best of Show and EXPY Award, $2000
Tanja Gant, CPSA - CPSA Great Explorations Award for Exceptional Achievement, $1500
Jeannette Sirois - CPSA District Chapters Award for Exceptional Merit, $1200
Candace Ripoli, CPX - Derwent Fine Art Pencils Award for Exceptional Merit, $1200 product
Karen Hull - CPSA District Chapters Award for Outstanding Achievement, $650
Cristina Iotti - Seattle WA District Chapter 207 Award for Outstanding Recognition, $500
Anda Chance - Legion Paper Award for Outstanding Recognition, $500
Mary Foote - Creative Art Materials/Caran d’Ache Award for Outstanding Recognition, $500 product (Luminance set)
Gail Postal - Creative Art Materials/Caran d’Ache Award for Outstanding Recognition, $500 product (Museum set)
Anna Hammer - Bruynzeel Award for Excellence, $300 product
Toni James, CPSA - Canson Award for Excellence, $300 product
Deborah Maklowski , CPSA - Staedtler-Mars Award for Excellence, $300 product
Mike Purdy - Tombow Award for Excellence, $300 product

Jeanette Sirois - CPSA District Chapters Award for Exceptional Merit
Mom, 40x30x1.5 inches
Colored Pencil, Charcoal

Congratulations to all our award winners! Each award is well-deserved! The entries never fail to impress and inspire us through their creative vision and techniques.

Thank you, Amy Galpin, Ph.D., for your time and expertise in judging Explore This! 10. And a very gracious thank you to all our sponsors for your continued support.

Lastly, thank you to all who entered and participated. The submissions were wonderful and make for an inspiring exhibit. It is exciting to see all the different ways the colored pencil is being used.

To view the Explore This! 10 exhibition, or to learn more about the Colored Pencil Society of America, please visit us at