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IPAS 2015: THE DEADLINE APPROACHES!

a special announcement from the Pencil Art Society

The deadline for submitting to IPAS 2015 is almost here!! IPAS is our Online Juried Exhibition exclusively for PAS members. Become a member and you will have a chance to showcase your pencil art to the world! For more information, check out our “Membership” and “Exhibitions” pages! We want to see what you can do!

A PAS-SING GLANCE: PAS MEMBER SHEONA HAMILTON GRANT

written by Erica Lindsay Walker, vice president, education chair

The horse has been a hugely popular subject among artists for a very long time. It’s easy to see why. Many people consider horses to be the most beautiful of all animals – and who could appreciate this better than an artist?

Intensity

Intensity

So why has Sheona Hamilton-Grant cropped most of her horse out? “Intensity” shows us almost nothing of what we expect. We only see the side, the mouth and part of one raised leg – plus a bit of fluttering mane. The answer is that by sacrificing the beauty of the horse’s form, she creates an extremely compelling image of its power.

Because of the abstracted treatment, this work has a very modern feel. Basically, it consists of a roughly rectangular shape, broken up by some strong lines into several smaller shapes, with a circular one in the middle. Together, it all makes me think of a locomotive, full speed ahead. Both the mouth and the leg contribute significantly to this effect. The mouth suggests panting breath (the “steam”), and the raised leg, speed. The ends of the mane ripple with wind. We can’t see a lot of movement, but we certainly feel it.

The more I studied this work, the more I appreciated the strength and energy created by the powerful interlocking shapes. Diagonals shoot out like rays from the metal loop. This little circular shape is actually one of the most important elements in the entire design. As the centre of so much movement, it suggests the idea of a wheel, something constantly turning – and once again, we see our locomotive! Everything flows along, with the more vertical diagonals adding strength and stability. The long horizontal sweep of the reins adds a wonderful sense of flight. So exhilarating!

So far I’ve mentioned only the design elements, but Hamilton-Grant has a beautiful technique, and this also plays a huge part in the overall effect of her work. We can feel the reins, their tautness. We can feel the horse’s gleaming coat and its powerful muscles. No more is needed. We may not see much more of what the horse looks like, but this drawing gives us a marvellous idea of what it is like.

CONGRATULATIONS JANIS L. MATTSON! YOU HAVE WON!!

a special announcement from the Pencil Art Society

Congratulations, Janis L. Mattson! You have won the Pencil Art Society’s Member Appreciation Draw for the month of May!! A $25 (CAD) Amazon gift certificate will be emailed to you very soon! A big Thank you! to everyone who joined or renewed their PAS membership in May!!

A PAS-SING GLANCE: PAS MEMBER SUSIE TENZER

written by Erica Lindsay Walker, vice president, education chair

Sometimes a still life is anything but still, and such is the case with Susie Tenzer’s “Selfie”. This work is full of energy, sweeping our eyes around and around in a kind of visual dance.

Selfie

Selfie

Tenzer says in her artist statement that she uses her camera to “seek out optimum perspectives”. And the perspective is very important here. Often we see floral still lifes from a classical perspective: head-on, eye-level, calm and contemplative. But Tenzer has chosen to show us her setup from above. The result is a riot of diagonal lines and swooping curves, that invite us in as if to a waltz. So much movement!

The placement and cropping also add a lot to the off-kilter excitement of the image. We see that the flower in the foreground is obviously the “star” of the work, but the other behind it seems to be moving forward as well. Placing the front one off-centre creates an impression of jostling movement, the sense that in a moment the scene could change. I can imagine a small drama taking place: the back flower is a bit disgruntled and will soon shove the attention-seeker in front out of the way.

I notice, too, the special attention Tenzer gives to edges and values. We see that the petals of the front flower have slightly sharper edges than the other, and the darks surrounding it are just a bit darker as well. This focuses our attention, but subtly. We’re all familiar with the “single eye” of the camera, which brings its main subject into sharp detail while everything else melts into a blur. Tenzer does not make the rest a blur, but she softens the edges and lightens the colours just a little. So we know what is most important, but we know that the rest is important too.

Speaking of colours, I especially like how Tenzer deals with the pink and yellow petals. They are very eye-catching and there is no other prominent pink and yellow in the work. However, mix the two together and you will have a colour quite similar to that of the pot! Harmonies such as these are just one of the aspects of this image that make it so rewarding. The more we look at it, the more we find – along with a lot of drama, enjoyment and fun.

CONGRATULATIONS TANJA GANT! YOU HAVE WON!!

a special announcement from the Pencil Art Society

Congratulations, Tanja Gant! You have won the Pencil Art Society’s Member Appreciation Draw for the month of April!! A $25 (CAD) Amazon gift certificate will be emailed to you very soon! A big Thank you! to everyone who joined or renewed their PAS membership in April!!

MEMBER APPRECIATION DRAW FOR MAY!

We’re holding another Member Appreciation Draw this month for another $25 (CAD) Amazon gift certificate, so if you’d like to join in on the fun, you can find out more about becoming a PAS member by visiting our “Membership” page!

A PAS-SING GLANCE: PAS MEMBER NATHALIE LAGACÉ

written by Erica Lindsay Walker, vice president, education chair

We know that art can express serious concerns, and artist Nathalie Lagacé’s “Grandfather and Son” is a case in point. She makes her work a voice for the voiceless: our abused environment, with its vanishing animal population.

Grandfather and Son

Grandfather and Son

The artist’s intense feeling for her subject determines every aspect of this work, including the format. We see that she uses a tondo, or circle. This format is rare. Both geometrically and symbolically, the circle is an extremely powerful shape. It is perfect, with no beginning and no end. It often represents eternity. A circular format can add a lot of visual and emotional weight to a subject, as it does here. Of course, it is perfectly possible to make a “lighter” work using a circle format! But in general, the circle does tend to emphasize seriousness, and so it is an excellent choice for this work.

Then Lagacé divides her tondo in two, with each half representing a polar opposite: life and death. Rabbits are a well-known symbol of life, though they are also a challenge to the artist, because when many people see rabbits they automatically think “cute”. So what she shows us are not sweet, fluffy little creatures but strong wild animals. Their wildness is, I think, an important point here. We cannot humanize these rabbits. They do not belong to us; they do not even look at us.

The other half of the tondo, the “death side”, is a large rabbit skull, and twining the two halves together are dead branches. These branches actually create the circle: they enclose not only the rabbits but the entire work. There are two small breaks in the line – the tip of the rabbit’s ear and the skull. It is interesting that the skull is further out of the circle than the rabbit! I find the rabbits’ expressions very moving: for me they look wide-eyed but not frantic, just stoic. They are looking far out as though they want to escape, but they make no movement to do so. It’s as if they are already resigned to the inevitable.

The message is harsh, but the design is smooth and flowing. Everywhere I see curving forms and lines – the eye cavity of the skull, the line of its teeth, the rabbits’ eyes and ears, the branches. These harmonize with the format, and our eyes move constantly around the work. Lagacé has done a wonderful job of keeping the flow as well as the power of her image.

CONGRATULATIONS BRUCE PAGE! YOU HAVE WON!!

a special announcement from the Pencil Art Society

Congratulations, Bruce Page! You have won the Pencil Art Society’s Member Appreciation Draw for the month of March!! A $25 (CAD) Amazon gift certificate will be emailed to you very soon! A big Thank you! to everyone who joined or renewed their PAS membership in March!!

MEMBER APPRECIATION DRAW FOR APRIL!

We’re holding another Member Appreciation Draw this month for another $25 (CAD) Amazon gift certificate, so if you’d like to join in on the fun, you can find out more about becoming a PAS member by visiting our “Membership” page!

A PAS-SING GLANCE: PAS MEMBER SUE DELEARIE ADAIR

written by Erica Lindsay Walker, vice president, education chair

Sue deLearie Adair’s title for this little work (chosen before the book came out) tells us immediately that this is not, first and foremost, a picture of a bird. Rather, “Shades of Gray” is about the formal qualities (such as tone and colour) that make up both abstraction and realism.

Shades of Gray

Shades of Gray

The moment I saw this image I was struck by it, because it does something very difficult: it successfully combines two very different genres. Adair sets detailed realism against stark abstraction, and brings it off. I always enjoy this kind of juxtaposition because of the tension it creates. On the one hand the artist attempts to convince us that this is three-dimensional reality. The bird is solid; its form recedes in space. But on the other hand, the artist insists that this is NOT three-dimensional. This is a design of pure shape and unshaded value, something unapologetically flat. As a result we move constantly between two visual worlds. It’s very hard to do well, because the two viewpoints are so utterly different, even opposed; but when it IS done well like this, it is so exciting.

The bridge between the two worlds is, I think, the bird’s shadow. The shape on which it is standing is as flat and unreal as the others, but the shadow convinces us that this is not only gray shape but solid surface. It makes it “lie down”. However, because this detail is so minimal, we can still read the shape as two-dimensional, which prepares us for the other shapes. They fit together as neatly as a puzzle: dark, medium, and light. Their very simplicity provides a wonderful contrast to the finely-rendered bird. And yet, in spite of its subtlety, we can also see that the bird is essentially made up of three similar basic values: white head and body, gray-blue wings, dark beak and bright black eye. It’s as if the bird itself has been abstracted into three clean, sleek shapes.

I love the textures too, especially on the wings – I can almost feel how crisp and smooth they are. The whole bird is full of delicate tones and touches, from the sheen on the wings to the white layered shingles of feathers on its back. It seems almost “photographic”, but it is not. Rather, Adair has put just the right amount of well-chosen detail, so that it seems much more detailed than it actually is. Our minds finish what the artist has begun.

For me, this work is so satisfying. I love going back and forth between the two realities. Looking at them, one could ask: which is the more enjoyable? Which would we rather have? Thanks to the artist, we can have both.

JOIN PAS AND BE A WINNER!

a special announcement from the Pencil Art Society

Guess what everyone? It’s membership time, and, to celebrate this event, we have something special in store for you!! For the next 3 months, at the end of each month, we’re going to hold a Membership Appreciation Draw. That means that for the next 3 months, one of our members will receive a $25 CAD gift certificate from Amazon. That’s the same value as a year’s membership! Perhaps it could go towards art supplies to create a winning drawing for our 2015 Online Member Juried Exhibition …

Are YOU gearing up for this year’s Online Member Juried Exhibition?

Our second Online Member Juried Exhibition is open to Pencil Art Society members only, so if you’ve been thinking about joining us, now’s the time! Besides our members-only exhibition, PAS membership benefits include: having your own Member Gallery page on our website, receiving our beautiful and informative bi-annual magazine Go Brushless!, and being able to apply for Master Pencil Artist Status (MPAS). Not only that, our members also pay significantly lower entry fees for our biennial International Open Juried Exhibitions! So why not join us and be a part of all the excitement!

A PAS-SING GLANCE: PAS MEMBER ALLISON FAGAN

written by Erica Lindsay Walker, vice president, education chair

Here is another work from our First International Exhibition: Allison Fagan’s “La Mattina Presto”. I had first seen it on FB and been very struck by it, so I was thrilled to be able to see it in person.

La Mattina Presto

La Mattina Presto

I am always drawn to images with strong lights and darks. Powerful value contrasts like these tend to carry a lot of emotional weight, and this work is no exception. There is something so poignant to me about the lone figure of the woman receding into the distance down a long dark corridor.

For me, this old woman (I automatically read her as old) suggests some kind of sadness or unknown hardship. Her pose has been perfectly captured so that she seems to move. She is walking ahead of us, unaware of our presence, and in another moment we know she will be gone. She walks alone, unsupported. Yet the picture is not at all depressing or gloomy, or at least I don’t find it so. The woman has not been left alone in the dark. The light shines into the corridor, glowing on the walls and spilling onto the walkway with a soft sheen. With this light comes colour, and knowledge of the surroundings. We can see that the woman is not lost or trapped; the tunnel is long, but there is an end to it.

Colour is not what this image is primarily about, and yet it is very important to the overall effect. The artist’s palette is quiet, even rather sombre – but not dull. Dark and warm balance pale and cool. At first glance the walls and ceiling seem just brown, but in a moment we see the differences, almost as if our eyes are adjusting to the light. Then we notice golden brown, burgundy, hints of dark blue, touches of rust. Together, these create an effect that is rich and subtly varied rather than monochromatic. Into this close, muted warmth the soft blue introduces a sense of spaciousness and light. The light also highlights the detail of the cobblestones, which make such an effective contrast with the large simple areas of the walls.

My eyes go from the woman to the round arch, to the warm walls, to the stony floor, and back to her again. It always seems that I am catching a glimpse of her just in time, right before she disappears. She quietly persists in her journey, and soon she will reach her goal. There is sadness here, but there is also hope: in this image, the artist has very movingly shown us the light at the end of the tunnel.