Friday, March 18, 2016

Time Magazine Article and CPSA's Response

March is always the month for CPSA's national governing board to meet for planning the next year and beyond. This year's meeting was March 10th - 12th in Houston. The meeting is always productive, with more ideas generated than we could possibly implement and more issues to discuss than we have time (or brain power.) 

In particular, one issue piqued our interest when vice president, Kay Schmidt, brought a Time magazine to the meeting which included an article on the coloring book trend. It sparked a discussion as to whether we should respond with a letter to the editor on the fine art aspect of colored pencil to offer a counterpoint to the idea of "coloring".  

We have had inquiries as to how we feel about the trend and frankly we hadn't had a real chance to solidfy our CPSA stance. Last year our founder, Vera Curnow, worked with DC - 109 Metro Washington DC to develop a successful outreach project creating line drawings as the coloring pages for patients at the Montefiore Medical Center in NY.  In addition, several artists we know have been asked to develop basic colored pencil workshops for those working in coloring books, specifically seniors. So we don't want to dismiss the newest trend which seems to be a worthy endeavor for some, but the consensus was we should take every opportunity to share our ultimate mission for CPSA and the colored pencil.

As a result, we crafted a letter to the editor for Time magazine. The following is our response and we hope it will be published:

In response to Time's article “How coloring inside the lines came into fashion” by Sarah Begley.

As marketing director for the Colored Pencil Society of America (CPSA), a nonprofit for artists promoting colored pencil as a fine art medium since 1990 with over 1,500 members, I would like to address the issue of fine art versus the current trend of coloring books and coloring “inside the lines.”

First and foremost, we are of the opinion the coloring book trend is good for anyone looking for a pastime that is relaxing and therapeutic. The world certainly needs less stress.

Colored pencil seems to be a popular medium for working in coloring books: but as the society representing this medium, we would appreciate the chance to promote a different side of the versatile and vibrant colored pencil.

CPSA focuses on using colored pencil in a fine art discipline to produce original paintings and drawings across a wide spectrum from hyper-realism to abstracted works. We host two signature exhibitions annually (our 23rdAnnual International was held in Atlanta at the Oglethorpe University Museum of Art in 2015), with jurors from well-known museums and galleries in the art world. These exhibitions showcase works created by our artists from concept to execution. Many of our artists are competing and winning awards at top levels in prestigious competitions, as well as having their work published in professional art publications.

Thank you for letting us make the distinction.


“Gravity” 18 x 29 inches, colored pencil by Jesse Lane (TX).


Cynthia Haase, CPSA
CPSA Marketing Director

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Explore This! 12 Announces Award Winners

On February 1, 2016, the Colored Pencil Society of America unveiled it's 12th annual Explore This! online exhibition. Seventy works of art were accepted with nine works awarded honors. The top three award winning pieces are featured in this post along with information about our juror, Holly Koons McCullough and her complete juror's statement.

ET! 12 exhibition, click here through January 31, 2017.
Full list of awards, click here.

About the Exhibition - 

CPSA introduced the Explore This! exhibition in 2001 to encourage artists to explore using colored pencil with other media. The exhibition also allows three-dimensional structure, bas relief, collage and other applications not eligible for entry in the CPSA International Exhibition. The first four Explore This! exhibitions were held in art galleries. Then in 2009, Explore This! became an annual online exhibition so that artists would have the opportunity to present their work to a broader audience and increase exposure time, since each exhibition remains on the CPSA website for an entire year. This is a juried show with cash and product awards. The accepted images appear in the June issue of the CPSA full-color news magazine, To The Point, published twice yearly and distributed to all members. In addition, the top three prize winners are invited to ship their work for display at the next CPSA International Exhibition.


EXPY and CPSA Great Explorations Best of Show Award
Art Venti (CA)
"The Human Briar"
36 x 46" colored pencil, graphite markers, diluted paint



CPSA District Chapters Award for Exceptional Merit $1000
Laura Fantini, CPSA (NY)
"Nervous"
38 x 29" colored pencil and ink


CPSA District Chapters Award for Distinction $650
Suzanne Vigil, CPSA (VA)
"Pensive"
36 x 24 colored pencil and acrylic
About the Juror - 

Holly Koons McCullough is the director and curator at the Greater Reston Arts Center, where she oversees the administration and development of the organization, as well as six to eight changing exhibitions annually. Prior to relocating to Northern Virginia in 2011, she served as the Director of Collections and Exhibitions at the Telfair Museum of Art in Savannah, Georgia, where she was responsible for the care, display, and interpretation of the Telfair’s collection of nearly 5,000 works of fine and decorative art, as well as an ambitious schedule of twelve to sixteen changing exhibitions annually. During her fifteen-year tenure at the Telfair, McCullough developed and presented dozens of exhibitions. Major accomplishments included the publication of the Telfair’s first collection catalogue; the acquisition of several major works for the collection; and spearheading the organization of the Telfair’s first internationally-traveling exhibition, Dutch Utopia: American Artists in Holland, 1880-1914. She holds a B.A. from the University of Georgia in English and art history, and a M.A. in art history from the University of Notre Dame.

Juror's Statement -

The Colored Pencil Society of America’s Explore This! 12 exhibition is an impressive revelation of the talent galvanized by CPSA. In my twenty years of experience curating and jurying exhibitions, it is only rarely that I have come across such a consistent and competent pool of works.  I was impressed by both the diversity and quality of the submissions, which made winnowing the entries down to the required number no easy task.
In selecting pieces for the exhibition, I noted with appreciation the skill manifest in the crisp still lifes, spectacular landscapes, thoughtful portraits, abstract compositions, and other varied approaches represented within the wide range of submissions. However, I was especially drawn to those works that utilized colored pencils in ways that were unanticipated.  Elaborate, seamless abstractions that suggested impossible depths; edgy portraits juxtaposed against bright, flat backgrounds; and daring combinations of colored pencil with a variety of other media.
Colored pencils were not widely available as an artistic medium until the 1920s, with Prismacolors making their debut in the late 1930s. The proliferation of the medium since that time is quite remarkable, given its relatively short history. The existence of the Colored Pencil Society of America to foster excellence, education, and credibility for the medium has clearly produced excellent dividends. If the Explore This! 12 exhibition is any measure, the medium has a long and illustrious future ahead of it.