Sunday, October 4, 2015

ArtSpectations 2015-2016 Winners are Siniscal and Lane!

Entries for CPSA's online competition, ArtSpectations, closed on August 31, 2015 with more than 280 entries in the Signature and Non-Signature categories. Our judge for ArtSpectations 2015-2016 was John Smolko, CPSA, CPX (OH). 

In addition to the Best of Show awards there were five Honorable Mentions in each category. You can view the entire group of award winners and the judge's comments on each at our CPSA website.

All entries submitted in the competition can be viewed on ArtSpectations until April 30th, 2016. 


John is a Colored Pencil Society of America signature and 10-year merit award member, who has been juried into eleven CPSA International Exhibitions and four Explore This! online exhibitions. In 2014 he received the District Chapters Award for Exceptional Achievement at the 22nd Annual CPSA International Exhibition in Ormond Beach, Florida. John has exhibited his art throughout the United States and has work in the permanent collection of the Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown, Ohio, the Sargent-Laessig Museum of Fine Arts in Hinckley, Ohio, andthe State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio in Columbus. He is presently associated with Group Ten Gallery in Kent, Ohio (To see a detailed list of John's exhibitions and examples of his artwork, visit his website.


Best of Show went to Holly Siniscal, CPSA (NV) for her piece "Garden Window". The judge had this to say about her entry:

"Holly, you are a master at portraits and you really excelled in this one. The colors and composition are dynamic and I just love how the flowers frame the beautiful face of the young girl. This work of art takes my breath away."

Best of Show - Signature Category
Holly Siniscal, CPSA (NV)
"Garden Window"
24 x 20" 100% colored pencil
Holly's website


Best of Show went to Jesse Lane (TX) for his entry "Resolve". The judge had this to say about Jesse's work:

"This is a real 'Master Work' for Jesse. I just can’t take my eyes off the portrait and I love the impact and drama of the “stare!” What a dynamic work of art. Bravo Mr. Lane!"

Best of Show - Non-Signature Category
Jesse Lane (TX)
30 x 20" 100% colored pencil
Jesse's website

Our ArtSpectations 2016-2017 will open May 1, 2016. Watch our CPSA website and our FB page for details.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

23rd International Top Award Winners Announced

The award winners for CPSA's 23rd Annual International Exhibition were announced on July 31, 2015 at the Awards Banquet in Atlanta, GA. The top two award winners were Jeff George, CPSA (CA), and Arlene Steinberg, CPSA, CPX (NY/FL).

Juror Donna Krueger, owner of dk Gallery in Historic Downtown Marietta, GA, had this to say about the exhibition:

"We all look at art every day. Our eyes can be exposed to millions of images a day. Only when we are asleep are we not bombarded by images. And for many, images still fill our restless nights by dreams or thoughts. Every once in a great while we see something so special, so new, so fresh that an undefineable joy pours into our visual experience. It is so powerful it can be life-changing. That is the joy and privilege I had to look forward to as a juror of this outstanding collection of work. As a contemporary gallery owner, I look at art submissions every day, but I have not been exposed to 100% colored pencil work on an ongoing basis. I was extremely impressed with the calibre of work and the use of the medium presented by the CPSA. I thoroughly enjoy judging art shows. This one has been a privileged experience."

The exhibition is on display until August 23rd, 2015 at the Oglethorpe University Museum of Art. The museum is located on the third floor of Lowry Hall which also houses the Philip Weltner Library, near the rear of the Oglethorpe University campus. Free parking is available directly behind the building.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Pump Up Your Studio Raffle in Atlanta

The PUMP UP YOUR STUDIO! Raffle, 2015

Through the generosity of CPSA’s corporate members and supporters, there is an amazing selection of products in this year’s raffle – items to restock, renew, and even refurnish your studio! And this year we are trying something new: each raffle prize will have its own ticket receptacle, so if you choose, you can focus your raffle tickets on those items you covet the most. At least 15 high value products will be raffled off at the convention’s Thursday evening Art Gala, so if you cannot be there in person, be sure to ask a member who’s attending to buy tickets for you!

Tickets are $1 each or 6 for $5

Here’s what will be on the raffle table this year:

 Faber-Castell Polychromos colored pencils: set of 72, in a wood case, $531 value,   donated by CPSA Patron member Faber-Castell

 Blockx oil paint set: 20 35ml tubes, in a wooden box, $500 value, donated by Blockx & Fils and by Nitram Fine Art Charcoal

 - Studio Designs Futura Craft Station with lightpad support bars, $341 value, donated by Studio    Designs

 - Giclee of Julie Podstolski’s ET! 11 Best of Show winner, “Step by Step,” $300 value, donated by Julie

 - Mijello Mission Gold watercolors & palette: 36-tube set, $290 value, donated by Martin F. Weber Co.

 - Prismacolor Premier colored pencils: full set of 150, $274 value, donated by Arlene Steinberg

 - Icarus Drawing Board, 14” x 20,” $270  value, donated by Esther Roi

 - Tombow Irojiten Color Dictionary pencils: full set of 90, $240 value, donated by Tombow USA

 - Artograph Revolution 80 Lightpad , $229 value, donated by Artograph Inc.

 - Carbothello pastel pencils: full set of 60 in a wooden box, $205 value, donated by  MacPherson’s

 - Jack Richeson gift certificate, $150 value, donated by Jack Richeson & Co.

 -  Logan Compact Classic mat cutter, $140 value, donated by Logan Graphic Products, Inc.

  -  Blick Studio colored pencils: full set of 72 in a wooden box, $134 value, donated by CPSA Patron  member Blick Art Materials

  -  Daler-Rowney Wimborne table easel , $131 value, donated by Daler-Rowney Ltd.

  - Daylight D-20 SmartLamp, $100 value, donated by Daylight Co.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Small Works of Great Magnitude at Atlanta Convention

Each year at our annual convention, CPSA holds a silent auction to support CPSA activities. Member artists who have achieved signature status, merit status or have won multiple awards are invited to create a colored pencil piece no larger than 11 x 14" for the auction. We try to change up the slate of artists each year.

The pieces are displayed in the hospitality suite during convention week beginning on Tuesday, July 28, and culminating with final bids at our evening art gala on the evening of Thursday, July 30.

As the minutes tick down to the final bidding bidders stake out their place near their favorite piece, and much friendly competition is employed to make sure their signature is the last on the bidding list.

The bidder (or a representative of the bidder if you are unable to attend) must be present to win. Purchase is by cash, check or credit card and must be paid that evening at the conclusion of the gala.

This year we have 31 beautiful pieces donated by our generous artist. Don't miss this opportunity to own an original colored pencil work of art. 

Below are just four examples of the beautiful art. The complete silent auction can be viewed at our website.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Second Workshop Opportunity for CPSA's 23rd Annual Convention in Atlanta

Join us July 29th - August 1st, 2015 in Atlanta, GA, for CPSA's 23rd Annual International exhibition and convention.

This year the workshops are being presented by two accomplished colored pencil artists and CPSA members. This is a workshop by Morgan Kari (CA) on adding metal leaf  to colored pencil works.

We hope you join us in Atlanta this summer and are able to take advantage of these incredible workshops. For more information on the convention, the exhibition and registration check out the prospectus.

Looking for a way to add more dramatic effects to your colored pencil paintings? Ways to add highlights to the sky, sparkle to objects or just improve a background? Adding metal leaf such as gold, copper, or silver could be the perfect addition. You will learn the varieties of metal and techniques for achieving various vibrant effects including embossing, distressing surfaces, bas relief, antiquing, and painting on metal leaf surfaces. There will be a demo of the adhesive sizing and how to apply the metal leaf. Morgan will show examples of her metal leaf artwork and her successful experiments using these glowing metals. You will be able to incorporate metal leaf into your painting and immediately see the bold results. Since we will be doing the gold leaf process first, please bring a preliminary outline of your subject matter of choice with an outline around the area where you want to place the gold or metal leaf. In the afternoon after the gold leaf has been applied, we will begin the colored pencil portion of the drawing. By doing this we prevent the gold leaf from adhering to the waxy colored pencil. 

Artwork by Morgan Kari (CA)


Morgan Kari earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at the University of Washington with graduate studies at Art Center College of Design and UCLA. She worked as a fashion illustrator for thirteen years often using colored pencil and has been a fine artist for over forty years. She has taught at the Manhattan Beach Creative Art Center, Otis College of Art and Design, Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, and the Art Center College of Design. She's currently teaching painting and drawing classes at her Woodland Hills (CA) studio. She has traveled widely presenting workshops to various art groups and has been the featured speaker for a wide range of art organizations. Morgan has won many awards for her artwork and her work was selected for the twenty-first juried Colored Pencil Society of America International Exhibition. She is currently working on a book entitled Portraits In Many Mediums. 


Supplies to bring include colored pencils, graphite pencil, pencil sharpener, kneaded eraser, duster brush, paper, and other basic materials. Attendees will receive an exact supply list one month prior to the convention.

For information on the exhibition and registering for workshops please check out the prospectus (page 6) on our website for CPSA's 23rd Annual International exhibition and convention.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Workshop Opportunity at CPSA's 23rd Annual Convention in Atlanta

Join us July 29th - August 1st, 2015 in Atlanta, GA, for CPSA's 23rd Annual International exhibition and convention.

This year the workshops are being presented by two accomplished colored pencil artists and CPSA members. First up is a workshop by Pam Belcher, CPSA on working with colored pencil on film. (The second workshop feature will be upcoming this week).

We hope you join us in Atlanta this summer and are able to take advantage of these incredible workshops. For more information on the convention, the exhibition and registration check out the prospectus.

ABOUT THE WORKSHOP (One day, either July 30th or July 31st)
Do you get tired of dealing with paper surface texture? A different drawing surface can inject a new level of fun to an already great experience. Being able to work on both sides of the film and allowing those two surfaces to play off each other is an exciting game. One of the most enjoyable aspects of drawing on drafting film is that it contains no texture. You may find this aspect of the surface to be a complete game changer. For Pam, it has injected a new level of fun into an already joyful activity, not to mention the saving of time. The silky surface takes colored pencil pigment perfectly. Sometimes it is laid down with the side of the pencil in blocks of color. A light touch can produce extraordinarily thin and delicate lines. The process is delightful to experience, and the possibilities are endless. In this workshop you will draw on both sides of the film, combining blocks of color with expressive lines and details. Pam will demonstrate some techniques she has found effective and will provide images from which to work. She will briefly talk about her process and bring examples to show. In the afternoon, those who want to can experiment with creating textures with rubbings, and move on to additional images. 

Pam Belcher is a 5-year merit signature member of CPSA who began drawing with colored pencils in 1995. Her most recent work on two-sided matte drafting film has opened up an extremely exciting, entirely new world. She has been president of District Chapter 207-Seattle for six years, and before that was the chapter newsletter editor. She has a BFA from Washington State University and also attended Burnley School of Graphic Design in Seattle. She taught drawing for 15 years in a local senior center, volunteered her time for several years as an art instructor in an elementary school, and has conducted a few local workshops on various subjects. She was published in Best of Colored Pencil Volume 5 (Rockport Publishers) and has two pieces in Strokes of Genius 2: The Best of Drawing Light and Shadow (Northlight Books). She has been featured in both The Artist's Magazine and American Artist Drawing Magazine. For more of Pam's work visit her website.

15.5 x 18.5"
Colored Pencil on Film

Supplies to bring include colored pencils, graphite pencil, pencil sharpener, kneaded eraser, duster brush, paper, and other basic materials. Attendees will receive an exact supply list one month prior to the convention.

For information on the exhibition and registering for workshops please check out the prospectus (page 6) for CPSA's 23rd Annual International exhibition and convention. 

Monday, March 2, 2015

ArtSpectations Spring 2015 Best of Show Award Winners

CPSA's ArtSpectations Spring 2015 award winners were announced on February 20, 2015. Out of 259 entries in two categories of signature and non-signature, 12 award winners were selected by judge, Betsy Holster, CPSA (CA).

A Best of Show award was chosen, along with five Honorable Mentions, in each of the two categories. We will post the Honorable Mentions in the upcoming posts.

Betsy is currently a Professor at California State University Fullerton where she teaches the Artists Books Class, paper making and drawing. Her comments about judging the AS competition are: 

"The judging process for this exhibition allowed me an opportunity to enjoy a tremendous 
range of works of art addressing ideas and using approaches across a wide spectrum. I 
am drawn to pieces that transcend the usual, either in their technical approach, in the mood
they cast, or the internal conversations and questions they cause. With this in mind,
technical excellence is imperative - the skills of the artist should enhance, not detract from, the ideas. Work that has content as its focus, using technique to communicate the content, 
makes for artwork that we never tire of viewing. The pieces I have selected have all 
achieved this goal."

About Tracy Frein's (IL) award winning piece "Parkinsons", Betsy commented:

"This piece is fascinating on so many levels - compositionally intriguing. And the many
questions it poses!!"

Tracy Frein (IL)
ArtSpectations Spring 2015
Best of Show

About "Speak No Evil" by Tanja Gant, CPSA, CPX (TX), Betsy commented:

"Using a simple, efficient and compact composition, this piece gives just enough information to draw us in."

"Speak No Evil"
Tanja Gant, CPSA, CPX (TX)
ArtSpectations Spring 2015
 Best of Show
Signature Category

Bravo to all who entered and congratulations to all the award winners.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Interview with Amy Turner, CPSA (IL) - Second Place Award Winner ET!11

I noticed the term "Acklfee" on your website. Tell our readers a bit about what that term means and how you use it. I think it's a great introduction into your creative process.

The word “Acklfee” (ack-el-fee) is a term that I had made up as a child to describe a joyfully silly person, one given to bouts of giggling and/or goofiness or, later in life, an exclamation made after experiencing an unexplainable synchronicity. The word followed me as I grew up and may still be heard on those rare, synchronous occasions. Oh yes...ever present beneath the shy exterior...the AckLfee silliness still ripples a tiny, badly-thrown pebble in a puddle.

AckLfee was recalled to life again in late 2007 when I became motivated to step up my personal artistic endeavors. I began by creating an online presence, in addition to joining my local art league and CPSA. And since “Turner” is rather a common name, I thought “what better moniker to use than AckLfee?” In hindsight, I'm not sure if this strategy has been altogether successful as it is not an easy word to remember...but it makes me happy none the less.

Up until that point in 2007, my creative process was mostly stifled by my work-a-day job as a graphic artist...rather mundane. So when I made the conscious decision to start creating for my own ends again, I called upon my old college love of photo-realism to regain my creative sea-legs. Since then, slowly, by introducing personal totems, favorite themes and dream-inspired imagery, my work has morphed away from strictly photographic to what I came to call an“improvised, stylized realism.”

"Soul Plexus - Tulips with Pearl Chakras"
Colored Pencil
Amy Turner, CPSA (IL)

What inspires your work that you describe as "improvised, stylized form of realism?" What inspired your "All in a Day's Work" piece from the ET! 11.

As I alluded to earlier, when I was younger, I was a hyper-realism fanatic, working mostly in ebony pencil. Couldn't get enough of it. It became my go-to style when I began in earnest to revive my personal art journey. What I found, however, was that the exacting nature of photo realism had lost some of it's charm for me. Although technically challenging, it just wasn't “fun” anymore. Maybe this was what an artistic mid-life crisis looked like??? I found myself improvising more with color, shape, composition and content. No longer relying predominantly on the photo, it seemed personal totems, themes and dream-inspired design elements had elbowed their way to the forefront. Now, many a composition is finding it's final incarnation in my cranium, not the camera.   A good many of these have actually come to me while waking in middle of the night, after which I scramble to scribble ideas into my sketchbook for further reference.

“All In A Day's Work,” however, harkens back style-wise to my earlier years of strict photo-realism. I took a wonderful photo while on a delivery with my husband for our business. Although I had seen this particular space many times before, on this day it was alive with a staccato play of light and a slightly warped view of reality which immediately drew me right in. Originally, I hadn't intended for it to be anything but a fun diversion from other projects and a dabbling process using a bit of paint and ink pens – and I never expected an award! I was elated simply when it was deemed exhibit-worthy!

In subsequent pieces, I have been exploring a creative side-street which still makes use of many of my personal totems - birds, pearls/jewelry, floral imagery - with a reflective, kaleidoscopic twist (as seen in the piece “Soul Plexus – Tulips With Pearl Chakras”). Occasionally, there will still be an image such as “All In A Day's Work” beckoning and begging to be drawn, to which I will enthusiastically surrender. Actually, a few are taunting me from inside my file cabinet even as I write this....

"All in a Day's Work"
Colored Pencil, paint and ink pens
Amy Turner, CPSA (IL)

ET! Winner of
CPSA District Chapters
Awards for Exceptional Merit $1000

I know very few artists who license their artwork. What made you decide to offer your work as licensed, and any advice for our colored pencil artists thinking of following that route? Does it work for you?

The licensing aspect of my art was initiated when I was asked to license 3 pieces of art for the set of the television series “Desperate Housewives” in 2010. Up to that point, I had never given licensing any thought. I have since seen quite a few of our CPSA members' artwork on products though, which speaks volumes for their beautiful artwork because it is a VERY competitive endeavor! But, there is a difference between a company wanting to use your existing art to showcase a product and actually making artwork for product design en masse. From what I gather, creating art for product design, for the most part, is an exacting, pre-determined formula (much like most graphic design) where you sell a body of artwork in a multitude of formats for differing products. Having spoken to other licensing artists, it is a full time job if you want to be successful at it.

In my case, my husband and I have been running our own businesses for over 20 years. The licensing aspect of my art has been more or less a hobby business since 2010. I didn't have the time required to travel to the major licensing expos or to concentrate on the large, wide-ranging image portfolios required by most art licensing agents (signing with a licensing agent is practically a necessity to get your foot in the door with many licensee companys). So, although I am open to licensing opportunities as they may arise and continue to fill sketchbooks with ideas, a full immersion into art licensing might have to wait a few years in my case.

What materials do you use (pencils, paper, etc.) You used inks and paints, in addition to colored pencil, in your award winning piece. What effects did the inks and paints achieve on the marker paper?

For much of my colored pencil work, I use Prismacolor Premiere pencils exclusively because they seem to give me the best coverage and creamy blending. Strathmore Bristol or Canson papers are a mainstay on my table – the less tooth, the better. The marker paper I used for “All In A Day's Work” was new for me. I originally purchased it to just dabble with some ink and markers but when I started this piece, I fell back into CP out of habit. It worked well, like a very thin bristol or Mylar, to hold the CP and allowed me to accent without any bleed with the ink/paint pens.

"Season of Remembrance"
Colored Pencil
Amy Turner, CPSA (IL)

Why did you join CPSA? What would you tell someone who is new to the organization, or someone thinking to join?

When my creative motivation returned in 2007, a fellow artist at my local art league asked if I had heard of CPSA, so I did a little sleuthing and joined immediately. In the end, credit must be given to CPSA for supplying the additional tinder needed to rekindle my creative fires after years of putting it on the back-burner. My first copy of To The Point not only inspired and encouraged me, but challenged me to take my work seriously again!  I marveled at the creativity and craftsmanship on display within those pages, and the willingness to offer insights, tips and encouragement so freely. I must confess, the members of CPSA never fail to blow me away with their talent.... I consider myself lucky to be a in their numbers!

For those who are new to CPSA or thinking of joining, I would say...”jump right won't be disappointed!” Not only will you be welcomed into a wonderfully diverse, creative, giving and enthusiastic family of artists, but you will have many marvelous opportunities to learn, share, network and exhibit your artwork. Don't hesitate to take advantage of all the that CPSA has to offer! Every artist needs a support structure to buoy and inspire them...and CPSA does just that for today's CP artist.

Amy Turner, CPSA (IL)
Thank you, Amy!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Part II - Interview with Julie Podstolski - ET!11 Best of Show

Part II interview with ET!11 EXPY award winner, Julie Podstolski, Australia.

Why colored pencil? Do you use a particular brand, what is your favorite surface, have challenges with the medium. I see where you added Neocolor Artist Crayons - what is the benefit for you of using them?

I was happily painting away in the 1990s. Then my husband, Matthew, dropped the bombshell. He wanted another child. We already had two daughters. I rose to the challenge and in 1994 produced Lucy. After I had Emily and Alicia (1984 and 1987 respectively) I had taken breaks from painting while they were infants. In Lucy's case I didn't want to stop producing art but oil paints were so wrong. I got so frustrated rushing away to mix up colours when Lucy had her rests, only to be interrupted when she would cry. I had a lightbulb moment. Why not try coloured pencils? After all, I had used them in the 1970s.

I zoomed down to the art shop and bought a full set of Derwent pencils and a 36 set of Stabilo Schwann Softcolor pencils. That was the real start of working with coloured pencils. Easy to pick up, put down, no mess, no smell, no waste - perfect. After years with oils pencils came naturally.

Lucy got older and for several years I alternated between oil painting and coloured pencils. I had an attitude problem to CPs. I didn't think they were respectable. Oil painting was real art while coloured pencil was like playing. Back then I didn't have a computer. I didn't know anybody else was using coloured pencil as a medium for fine art. I'd never seen any books on the subject. I was in a complete vacuum so no wonder I didn't know what to think.

Christmas 2000 - for a present I was given "The Best of Colored Pencil" Volume 5. Oh? What's this? I remember thinking that it was too late. I used to use pencils, but not any more. However, I enjoyed looking at the book.
and actually I couldn't STOP looking at it. I distinctly remember feeling the grief of loss that I was no longer using pencils as I intently studied the drawings.

A couple of months later another light bulb moment. I must use pencils again. Once again I was out of my comfort zone. I wasn't even sure I could get through the first drawing as I didn't know what I was doing. But it worked - and I was hooked. I wasn't going to let it go again. I would change my attitude and MAKE coloured pencil respectable in my mind.

After trying several different brands I now primarily use Caran d'Ache Luminance because I trust the lightfast aspect to them. I also love the Japanese brand, Holbein Artists' Pencils. I did my own lightfast test with the Holbeins and while not as scientific as CPSA's tests, it certainly gave me some clear results. I have recently discovered Derwent 24 Drawing Pencils which I have added to my brands.

I have always had a set of Neocolor on hand since I was a teenager. I took the opportunity to buy a set of 84 Neocolor wax pastels and a set of 96 Neopastels (both by Caran d'Ache) when I was in London. I can't buy these where I live so I treasure them. I wanted to experiment by adding them to my pencil drawings. It was the Explore This! competition which gave me the idea. I wanted to combine the materials and see what range of textures would come from it.  The addition of Neocolor is particularly good for the out-of-focus areas. Pencil by itself then provides a sharp contrast for the in-focus areas.

For the last decade I have used a hot-pressed printmaking paper called "Pescia" 300 gsm by Italian company, Magnani. I have heard a rumour that the factory is closing down soon. Luckily I have about five years supply of the paper in a cupboard.

Regarding the challenge of the medium, every drawing is a challenge and if it wasn't I would be bored. I like to push the boundaries and sometimes this means failures. I publish the failures on my blog and on Facebook as I want my message to be that failures are an essential part of evolution no matter how experienced you are. You just don't want to be safe all the time. 

Colored Pencil
350 x 405 mm 2011
Julie Podstolski (Australia)

As an international member from Australia, tell us about your life there, are there opportunities for an artist, particularly colored pencil?

I do not think that it is easy being an artist anywhere in the world. I have been living in Perth, Western Australia since 1997. There were quite a few commercial galleries in Perth in the late 90s, but since then there has been a steady decline. I have exhibited with five commercial galleries between 1999 and now.  My last solo exhibition was in 2014. Every single gallery I have exhibited with in Perth has closed down. My September 2014 exhibition was the last one before the gallery shut its doors permanently. Artists aare having to find spaces and run their own shows. I have found a venue for my next show (2016) and will manage it myself.

Sometimes I feel quite depressed about the state of art and the future of it. My exhibitions have sold extremely well but many fellow artists have had a difficult time selling - no matter what their medium is.

Why did you choose to become a member of CPSA? 

For some years I knew of your existence but I didn't know I was able to join. I only joined Facebook a couple of years ago. Then I discovered Colored Pencil Artists and Lovers (CPAL) and found that CPSA had international members. The main reason I joined CPSA was to get hold of the "Lightfastness Test Results Workbook".

Coming from painting in oils, it never occurred to me that lightfastness was an issue with coloured pencils. If I read the word "permanent" on a pencil barrel, I simply believed it. It was a horrible shock when it finally sank in that many pencils fade. I realised that I MUST have that book so that I could cull my pencils. I don't visit my art supply store without the workbook in hand.

After I joined I found all the other benefits. I love the fact that I can enter some of your competitions, the ones which are online. It is such an expensive thing to physically send a work to America from Western Australia that I baulk at entering the main (international) CPSA show. Thank heavens you have "Explore This!" as well as two "ArtSpectations" per year. These exhibitions are very much appreciated by your international members!

I very much appreciate the professionalism of your publications and I read "To the Point" from cover to cover as well as constantly going back to recheck articles. So, in every way I love being a member of CPSA.

"Step by Step"
Colored Pencil and Artists Crayons
EXPY/Best of Show
Explore This! 11  (2015)
Julie Podstolski (Australia)

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Part I - Interview with Julie Podstolski - ET!11 Best of Show

Interview with international member and EXPY/Best of Show winner in the ET! 11 exhibition, Julie Podstolski (Australia). Julie has shared a wonderful view into her art, education, materials and life. It will be presented in two parts. Today's post, Part I, is about her art inspiration and her education. Enjoy! 

Cindy Haase, CPSA, 
Marketing Director

Julie, tell us about your concept of the geisha art and Japan. I believe I've read you traveled there. For pleasure, business? What about the culture and daily life makes you want to capture it in your art?

Matthew, my husband, forced my hand. He expected me to accompany him on a business trip to Japan in 2003. I was extremely resistant, especially as it was right when the world was in the grip of fear about SARS. However I was persuaded to go. Once I got there it took me a very short time for curiosity and wonder to overcome fear. Since that first trip I have been to Japan many times including several by myself. I am flying over next week. It will be my 16th trip.

On that first trip in 2003, after business was over, our group was taken to Kyoto to be introduced to some Japanese culture and history. We were walking in Gion on our final evening. Out of the darkness appeared two figures - a maiko (apprentice geisha) and her client. I could not believe my eyes and whipped out my camera. I took a couple of snaps which were the source of the first two "geisha" drawings. After that I read every book I could find on the subject of geisha. My appetite was insatiable. I couldn't wait to return to Japan after that first sighting.

I adore mystery and what could be more closed and mysterious than the world of geisha. On one hand I wanted to know as much as I could, but on the other I never wanted to lose that sense of secrecy which is so delicious. I still feel like this.

I love the drama of the costume and the elegance of the women. While the women wear the costume of geisha, they are custodians of several centuries of tradition. They actually become living, breathing works of art. "Gei" means art. They study and work extremely hard to perfect their music and dance.

I feel an affinity with these women. We are all artists together. Those of them who know my art appreciate it very much, just as I appreciate their art.

Finally, their numbers get smaller as the years go by. Even though young girls are drawn to the world of geisha, they usually only become part of this world for a few years and return to modern Japan. Geisha are an endangered species. I want to capture and highlight them while I can - and do so with the greatest respect.

"Rare View"
Colored Pencil
360 x 520 mm
Julie Podstolski (Australia) 2013

What is your background as an artist? How long have you been working as an artist, using colored pencil, do you work in other media?

As a child one of my main activities was drawing. I was fortunate in that we had an art stream at high school. I was able to choose that stream so from 13 to 18 art was one of my major subjects at school. I learned a great many sound principles from my wonderful art teacher, Jan Colosimo. We still write to one another 38 years later.

I was determined to study fine arts at university. My art teacher had to persuade my parents that art was a worthy subject to pursue at tertiary level. (My father had not been allowed to study art when he was a young man although his art teacher had appealed to my grandfather to let him.) In my case, I was allowed to choose art at university with the idea that I would go on to be a secondary school art teacher.

From 1978 to 1980 I studied fine arts (majoring in painting) at University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand. Even during those years I experimented with coloured pencils and Neocolor wax pastels. Mostly, however, I used oil paints. I graduated in 1980 with of Diploma of Fine Arts.

I learned so much about art both at school and at art school. To be honest, I wouldn't be the artist I am today without having attended art school. I think the main reason is that we students were so often taken out of our comfort zones and challenged to think outside our personal squares. At the time I loved it and hated it. In the years since I have never regretted for a second those three formative years at School of Fine Arts. I didn't pass with flying colours. I tended to be a B student - but I got through - that's the main thing. Abstract expressionism was "in" at that time. My laborious realism didn't go down too well. In the end I got into abstract expressionism as well. Maybe that helped me to pass. It certainly helped me to appreciate the universe of art styles!

I mostly definitely didn't want to teach. Two weeks or so after starting at Teachers Training College, I dropped out. I quickly got a job in the University Bookshop and saved up to come to Australia with my future husband.

I consistently painted in oils until 1994 - as consistently as one could while being mother and housewife.  

"Here Comes the Night"
Colored Pencil
360 x 520 mm
Julie Podstolski (Australia) 2013

To be continued in Part II on February 12...

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Explore This! 11 Unveiled - Best of Show Goes to.....

CPSA's annual online Explore This! 11 is live at our main website as of February 1, 2015 and will be available for viewing until January 31, 2016.

Explore This! is designed to showcase predominantly colored pencil art executed with at least one other medium. (Ink, pastel, oil, watercolor, gold leaf, markers are but a few of the additions.) This is in contrast to CPSA's annual international competition which only allows 100% colored pencil. The ET! is a signature exhibition and artists can earn their CPX signature status with three acceptances in ten years.

Of the seventy acceptances into the exhibition this year, fourteen awards were chosen by the juror, Courtney McNeil, Curator of Fine Arts and Exhibitions, Telfair Museums. Courtney had this to say about the entries. "In a medium as exacting as colored pencil, the fundamental skills of draughtsmanship and composition have an opportunity to truly shine through. Many of the accepted works excelled in these areas, demonstrating a mastery of light and shadow, perspective, landscape, or the human form. The exhibition is also populated by works possessing effective use of composition, whether harmonious and fluid, dynamic and powerful, or tightly-controlled." Her full statement is available at our main website.

The $2,000 EXPY and CPSA Great Explorations Best of Show Award goes to Julie Podstolski (Australia) for her entry "Step by Step" in colored pencil with Neocolor II (artists' crayons.) Julie's description of her winning piece - "two women with umbrellas approach one another in Miyagawa-cho, Kyoto.  Is this a metaphor for life?" 

"Step by Step"
approx 18 x 13"
Colored pencil and artists crayons
Julie Podstolski (Australia)

The $1,000 CPSA District Chapters Award for Exceptional Merit goes to Amy Turner, CPSA (IL) for her piece "All in a Day's Work" using colored pencil, paint and ink pens. Amy describes her entry as "A view from the passenger seat of a docked truck, looking at the recesses of the loading dock.  An homage to all those who brave the work-a-day traffic and are still able to see the abstract beauty in the mundane industrial environs around them."

"All in a Day's Work"
10 x 8"
Colored pencil, paint and ink pens
Amy Turner, CPSA (IL)

Michael Felber (WA) is the recipient of the $900 CPSA District Chapters Award for Outstanding Achievement. His piece "Grandfather" is rendered in colored pencil and watercolor. When notified of his award Michael had this to say about his love of bears "I've taken seven trips to Katmai Natl. Park, Alaska to view the coastal grizzly bears. While always cautious, we can view the bears in a stress free situation by using body language to understand and communicate with them."

12 x 11"
Colored pencil and watercolor
Michael Felber (WA)

While this is an online exhibition, the top three award winners will have the opportunity to exhibit their work at the CPSA 23rd Annual International in Atlanta this summer. 

We congratulate all of the award winners and the artists whose work was accepted into the ET!11. 

Monday, January 26, 2015

Enter CPSA ArtSpectations by January 31

We’re hoping you’ve read about the Spring 2015 ArtSpectations competition in the new January issue of To The Point and are getting your submissions ready. The last day for entering is January 31, 2015.

Here are some highlights of the competition:
  • Open to members and non-members
  • Signature and non-signature categories
  • $250 Best of Show and five honorable mentions in each category
  • Each entry is $10 (up to 5 entries)
  • Entered artwork is eligible for ET! and International competitions
  • Entries previously appearing in our ET! or International exhibits are NOT eligible
  • Works completed within the last 5 years are eligible
  • Winners are posted on CPSA’s main website
  • Entries are available for viewing and commenting until June 1, 2015
  • To submit, go to

Sharon Frank Mazgaj, CPSA
"Glass Bowl and Pears"

Why would you want to enter?
  • A great way to get your “feet wet” in a competition
  • No shipping costs!
  • You are being judged with your peers
  • Website addresses can be posted with your entry so more exposure for you
  • Works can be for sale, already sold, or NFS (CPSA is not involved in any sales)
  • Work is viewable online as soon as you hit “Submit”
  • You can share your entry with family and friends and they can comment via a Facebook link
  • It’s just plain fun!
For years our CPSA members have asked for more opportunities to share their art. This competition was established for just that reason. We must support it if this opportunity is to continue.

Any questions? Please contact our exhibitions director, Ranjini Venkatachari.

Margaret Hopkins
"Who Rescued Whom?"

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Board Change in the New Year

In the January issue of To The Point news magazine for CPSA members we announced that public relations director, Betsy Jones (CA), had stepped down from her board position due to career advancement opportunities. We wish Betsy well in her new ventures.

We are now pleased to announce, effective immediately, Cindy Haase, CPSA (CO) will be returning to the CPSA board after a personal leave of absence. She will be taking on the public relations, social media and advertising responsibilities in a renamed and refocused position of marketing director. 

Cindy has served on the board since 2006 as membership director and most recently as president before she took leave. She is thrilled to be returning and we are excited to use her experience to spread the word about CPSA, our artists and their art.

Cindy Haase, CPSA (CO)
Marketing Director, CPSA

She can be reached at, and will be the administrator of our social media accounts: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and blog

CPSA is looking forward to a fantastic 2015, our 25th anniversary. May your year be full of creativity and success in all your endeavors.

Melissa Miller Nece, CPSA, CPX (FL)
President, CPSA