Sunday, April 13, 2014

CPSA Has A New Corporate Patron!

CPSA is pleased to announce our new corporate patron, Crafter's Companion!

Crafter's Companion is an art materials distributor, providing everything from drawing supplies to crafting supplies and everything in between. They have websites based here in the United States as well as the UK, making it easy for so many to access their much-needed art supplies.

Speaking of education, instruction is obviously important to this company.  They have CD/DVDs for sale online, and the Crafter's Companion Blog is a goldmine of inspiration, ideas, and tutorials. From card making to decorative box construction, you will find enough projects to last a lifetime.

Crafter’s Companion’s main reason for joining is to promote a new line of colored pencils, Spectrum Noir. These wax based pencils come in 120 colors, but they are uniquely packaged in 5 separate tins of 24 colors. There is no duplication of color in the five ranges, which are Primaries (a balanced mixing range), Essentials (secondaries and variations), Marine (mostly blues and browns), Florals (reds, yellows and purples) and Nature (landscape greens and browns). Look for these pencils and a range of accessories to reach your favorite stores very soon!

As our newest patron, Crafter's Companion will donate awards for CPSA shows and products for door prizes at our annual convention. We very much appreciate their patronage.

These folks have a wonderful organization and a creative atmosphere.  Let’s all welcome them to our colored pencil family!

Crafter's Companion

Friday, March 28, 2014

Last Call For Entries - CPSA 22nd International Exhibition

It's that time again! It comes and goes so quickly!

It's the last call for entries for the Colored Pencil Society of America's 22nd International Exhibition. Submissions are due at 11:59 (Mtn Time) on March 31, 2014. The entry fee is $35, with a discounted fee for CPSA members.

We are excited to announce the new top prize amount of $5000 for Best of Show and CIPPY Award!

Need help entering?
Simply go to and register with their site.  It is free and only takes a moment.  From your profile there, you can upload your images into your own portfolio.  Then, do a call for entry search on "colored pencil" and the CPSA 22nd International Exhibition will appear.  Click on the link to apply to the call for entry and follow the directions from there.
If you have already registered with the CaFE site, all you need to do is log in and find the CPSA exhibition.

Please visit the 22nd International Exhibition Prospectus for more information.

If you haven't finished your submission, now is the time! We've got just three days left!

Good luck to all our entrants!

For more information, or to become a member, please visit

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

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Announcing the New Exhibitions Director-elect

CPSA is pleased to announce the selection of our new exhibitions director-elect, Ranjini Venkatachari, CPSA (WA).  Ranjini will take on the duties of retiring exhibitions director, Paula Parks, CPSA (WA) November 1, 2014.  The exhibitions director is responsible for the annual international and ET! exhibitions and will be taking on the planning and production of our new ArtSpectations competitions (fall and spring.) So while November of 2014 seems like a long time away, in our CPSA schedule it's right around the corner.

We hope you will welcome Ranjini. We are excited about working with her as we head into the future of CPSA and colored pencil as a fine art medium.

Welcome to our new Exhibitions Director-elect, Ranjini Venkatachari!

We asked Ranjini to tell us a bit about herself.

Where are you from originally and where is your home now?
I was born in Chennai, India, a place full of rich color and culture, which has always been a big inspiration in all of my work. I did not have the privilege to study art in college; instead I completed a degree in Math and moved to the U.S. a decade ago, making my home in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.
What does your career look like?
My career pretty much revolves around art in one form or the other. Other than painting/drawing I enjoy working in my clay studio, building functional and sculptural pieces. I like to design and have built websites for personal use as well as non-profits. I love to cook, enjoy all kinds of music and adore nature.
How did you get started in art/colored pencil?
My journey as an artist started the day I learned how to hold a pencil. My favorite medium has always been graphite so moving to colored pencils was a natural transition. I was introduced to colored pencil art through WetCanvas when I moved to the US and fell in love with it immediately.  
What are your thoughts/comments about being on the CPSA governing board?
I am really excited to be a part of this dynamic group of people whom I have always admired for their hard work and dedication. I am looking forward to working with them all and hoping to contribute and learn from my peers.


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

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:
To view the other winners and entries to ArtSpectations, visit:
For more information on CPSA or to become a member, please visit: