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)

1 comment:

Julie Fisher Art Blog said...

Interesting and informative interview! Thank you!