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written by Erica Lindsay Walker, vice president, education chair

The beauty of Clive Meredith’s graphite drawings is probably the first thing that most of us notice. He has both a love of detail and a gorgeous technique – what a combination! We can feel the textures he creates: soft fur, crisp feathers, or in the case of this work, elephant skin. But Meredith’s spare style also reveals a command of shape and pattern that makes his work powerfully abstract.

To the River

To the River

Here, as in many of his drawings, the animals are cropped off to one side, leaving a great deal of negative space. I love this because of the tension it imparts. The space seems full of questions. Sometimes in wildlife drawings one gets the feeling that the subject alone is what matters to the artist. The background is just “there”, a nonentity. But that’s not the case with Meredith’s work. The white background is more than a background: it is an active player in his work. It’s as if the space is a visual symbol of something unknown – the elephants’ future, perhaps? But the artist does not give us the answer. Instead, we have to “fill in the blanks” ourselves.

The cropping on this particular image is more extreme than in many of Meredith’s drawings: we zero in on the elephants’ faces, minus most of their trunks. Cropping like this immediately highlights abstract shapes. The elephants become not only animals, but patterns of light and shadow. They form a solid mass of modulated grays, standing in opposition to the stark whiteness before them. I find it all quite somber, except for the little sparkle of white in the tusks, especially of the elephant on the left. This is a very important touch. It adds contrast, lightens the mood, and harmonizes the subjects with the background. The left elephant’s tusks also keep the grays from looking too flat. Cover them with your hand and you will see what a difference they make.

The simplicity of the large strong shapes is counterbalanced by the ridged, corrugated skin and dry branches. These details are beautiful, but they are more than that. Of course elephants always have wrinkled skin; but wrinkles still suggest age, something old and wise. Then there are the branches, so dry and delicate. By putting these two images together, Meredith expresses the concept of “gentle giant” – the massive and the fragile side by side.

We know that elephants, in spite of their size and strength, are endangered animals: they are large and powerful but they are also vulnerable. In this drawing, Meredith underlines both their plight and their majesty. A beautiful drawing that also makes you think – I think the artist has done his job!


written by Erica Lindsay Walker, vice president, education chair

Hélène Béland

Hélène Béland

I love the whole “encounter” aspect of portraiture. You can be walking through a gallery and suddenly there on the wall is a face that looks back, not just a picture but a person. You stop, intrigued. A silent introduction follows. Often this develops into an intense mute conversation. When at last you move on it is with regret, wishing you could have stayed longer, promising to come again. You are not only looking at, you are relating to.

This is the feeling I had immediately when first seeing Daniel Brient’s “Hélène Béland”. She seems so alive, so vivid. I smiled back at her, and I had to stop and get to know her.

This is what I call a “simple” portrait, meaning everything is very straightforward. There is no busy background, no props. The artist has included his subject’s elegant hands, but they are folded quietly in front of her. (This actually reminds me a bit of the Mona Lisa – if it worked for Leonardo, we can do it too!) Her clothes are rather elaborate, particularly her large hat and rosette, but they have been toned down and simplified. They settle into the background so as not to compete with the face.

Much of the intimacy of this portrait is is due to the use of light. Brient uses a 3-quarter positioning, with the light coming from the right. We see that the eye furthest from us is in shadow, while the near eye is soft and clear. This gives an impression that she is turning toward us, which gives a subtle but very important energy to the work. Anyone who has ever done a portrait knows how difficult it is to keep it from looking “posed”. Things can so easily become stiff and artificial, especially a smile. But Hélène’s expression looks genuine, as if in another moment she will speak.

For me, “warm” is a key word to this work, and I find that the brown palette suits it perfectly. The faint hints of pink breathe life into the fleshtones, and I do not miss other colours in the least. Brient handles the textures deftly, suggesting rather than fully describing. Tight detail is not the focus; the face and expression are. His marks are somewhat rough, the background sketchy. Only with the hands and face does he soften his technique, though again, fine detail is never his concern. What details there are have been carefully chosen to enhance the overall effect. For example, Brient picks out a few individual tresses of hair. They are slightly tousled, suggesting that his subject has just moved or shaken her head. Her face looks full of movement too – perhaps she is about to laugh. Portraits like this are so rewarding. I hope you have enjoyed meeting Hélène Béland as much as I have!


written by Erica Lindsay Walker, vice president, education chair

Who doesn’t love the marvelous things water and light can do together? Certainly Adolfo Fernández Rodriguez does, as evidenced in his beautiful “Waiting in Princess Street”. This is a gorgeous tour de force. Here, light and water dance in a blaze of colour, a night street alive in the rain.

Waiting in Princess Street

Waiting in Princess Street

The colours are so rich and intense that it comes as a bit of a surprise to realize that this is actually a work with a very limited palette. “Limited” seems a silly word to describe a picture like this, but we see that the artist has used the following warm colours almost exclusively: reddish darks, bright oranges, glowing yellows. In the midst of this, the splashes of cool green make a startling contrast. They flicker here and there throughout the scene like fish darting through a fiery pond. Yet although they are so vivid they never detract from the other colours. Rather they heighten them, enhancing the work as a whole.

In contrast to the restricted colour range, the values go all the way from deep shadow to brilliant light. I’ve always loved the visual paradox of a night scene full of light. Things are inverted: instead of light above and dark beneath we have the opposite, a dark quiet sky above a busy, dazzling ground. It’s beautiful, but the brightest lights also play a necessary role in the design. They lead our eyes around the work. The focal point is, I think, the cluster of lights and reflections on the left. Here the colours come luminously together: pale cream, paler green, yellow gold. But very soon we jump from there to the next patch of light, and then to the next, always returning to the centre of interest.

Another thing that makes this work so memorable is its ability to show us two different spatial planes simultaneously. That is, we experience very near and very far at the same time. This is because we are looking at this street through rain-spattered glass. We’re all familiar with the way water distorts things. Fernández Rodríguez has made the most of this, with the waterdrops almost like brushstrokes, spreading the light and colour around the surface.

The result is that in spite of its realism (we always know that we are looking at a rainy street at night), the whole thing resembles an exuberant abstract or Impressionist painting. We are aware of the depth of the image – we can follow the perspective of the street – but we are also very much aware of the picture plane itself. Dots and dabs of light dance before us, reflections wave and shimmer, everything seems on the verge of dissolving into a bright swirl of colour and light. How wonderful to be an artist who can both see these things and share them with others!


written by Erica Lindsay Walker, vice president, education chair

I enjoy Diane Wright’s landscapes, and this is one of my very favourites. I always have the feeling when I look at it of cool restful shadows leading to a sunny, welcoming field.

Agnew Meadows

Agnew Meadows

The fact that I find the shadows cool is just one of the features that intrigues me about this drawing. Brightness and darkness belong to value, but temperature tends to be the prerogative of colour: we speak of cool blues and greens, warm reds and yellows. But here the shadows themselves look cool to me, while the sunlit field seems warm and inviting. This is partly, I think, because of the strong contrast of values. The shadows and trees nearest us are rich and dark. Wright uses them to frame the distant lighter values, and dapples the foreground with darker and medium tones, drawing us into the trees and beyond.

I also find this work interesting because of its severity in terms of shape and line. Compositionally this is an extremely vertical piece: the two clumps of trees on both sides of the work are strongly vertical, plus the trees we see in the distance. Limitations like this can be a real challenge, but Wright is careful to vary things so nothing gets monotonous or boring. Every tree is slightly different. We can see changes in the trees’ positions, thickness and in the placement of their branches. (I love the little trees at the bottom, with their “expect the unexpected” touch.) The vertical design has several strong horizontals to balance it as well: the field, the line of distant trees, the branches and the fallen log in the foreground.

Wright has a very distinctive technique, one that I find particularly effective for this subject. Often in realistic graphite work we find fine gradations where the individual pencil marks blend seamlessly together. But I haven’t often seen a rougher technique like this on finished works. Wright’s technique is “scribbley” – you can see the vigorous hatching she’s used. It suggests perfectly the textures of trees and bark, whether distant or close, while at the same time reminding us that this is a drawing.

An approach like this can be risky. We all want our drawings to look fresh and spontaneous, but while a “sketchy” technique is great for sketches, it can leave finished drawings looking UNfinished. It isn’t easy, but if you can bring it off as Wright has done here, it has a unique kind of honesty that is very appealing. An inviting landscape and a confident drawing – the artist gives us the best of both worlds!


a special announcement from the Pencil Art Society

The Pencil Art Society is thrilled to present the second members only Online Member Juried Exhibition: IPAS 2015!


We are thrilled to announce that our second Online Juried Exhibition is now open to the public! We can’t wait till you see what’s in store. But first, here are the winners of this year’s show. Congratulations to you all!

Jesse Lane — Best in Show
Gayla Salvati — First Place
Karen Hull — Second Place
Tanja Gant — Third Place
Cristina Iotti — Legion Paper Award for Excellence in Drawing
Susan Leite — Special Recognition for the Use of Pencil with Mixed Media
Katherine Thomas — Honourable Mention

Once again we’ve had an incredible response from our members. So much beautiful work! We were blown away by the entries we received, and our juror, Ann James Massey, had a very difficult time choosing which would be included in the show. We want to thank our judge for this gorgeous exhibition, for doing such a magnificent and professional job!

Pencil is capable of so much, and is appreciated so little. PAS wants to change that, and the best way is to show the world what pencil can do. A picture really is worth a thousand words, so check out our show! You will find everything from subtle black-and-white to luminous colour. We’re doing our best to show the world what artists can accomplish with pencils!


You will see the work of 39 artists from the society, for a total of 60 works! From the beginning, we had decided to limit the number, in order to showcase the best of all the submissions. These works are by artists from all over the world, including Canada, the United States, Germany, Australia, the United Kingdom, Italy, the Netherlands and Malaysia! We have awarded prizes of over $2500 CAD in cash and art supplies. A special thank you to our sponsor Legion Paper!

And now, without further ado, we invite you to step inside our virtual gallery to view the 2015 PAS Online Member Juried Exhibition! Enjoy!


a special announcement from the Pencil Art Society

The Pencil Art Society is thrilled to announce the artists who have been accepted into our second Online Member Juried Exhibition. 64 artists submitted a total of 159 entries! The quality of the work submitted was truly outstanding and our judge found the selection process extremely difficult. Congratulations to all those who were accepted, and we extend our sincere gratitude to all who entered for their enthusiastic support.

Stay tuned! We’ll soon post the exhibition on our website! We will then announce the award winners as well.

The following artists have been juried in to the 2nd PAS Member Juried Exhibition! Congratulations!

Carolyn Bain – Canada

Wilfrid Barbier – Canada

France Bauduin – United Kingdom

Susan Brinkman – Netherlands

Caryn Coville – USA

Maria D’Angelo – USA

Allison Fagan – Canada

Tanja Gant – USA

Sheona Hamilton Grant – Germany

Kathryn Hansen – USA

Sharon Hester – USA

Teri Hiatt – USA

Nancy S. Hilgert – USA

Richard Chandler Hoff – USA

Karen Hull – Australia

Cristina Iotti – Italy

Darlene Jordan-Pfaff – Canada

Richard Chester Klekociuk – Australia

Lyne Lafontaine – Canada

Nathalie Lagacé – Canada

Jesse Lane – USA

Manon Leclerc – Canada

Susan Leite – Canada

Erwin P. Lewandowski – USA

Janis L. Mattson – USA

Clive Meredith – United Kingdom

Barbara Anne Moore – Malaysia

Joyce Panadis – Canada

Alison Philpott – Canada

Julie Podstolski – Australia

Garry Rogers – Australia

Lyette Roussille – Canada

Gayla Salvati – USA

Cristina Serra – Italy

Suzie Tenzer – USA

Katherine Thomas – USA

Maria Villioti – Greece

Erica Lindsay Walker – Canada

Diane Wright – USA


written by Erica Lindsay Walker, vice president, education chair

Sunflower Salsa

Sunflower Salsa

August is often one of the hottest summer months … so Barbara Moore’s vibrant “Sunflower Salsa” seemed absolutely fitting! Even without the title we would know that some serious dancing is going on here. These flowers intend to rock our world!

One of the first things that struck me about this piece was the rather stylized treatment. I’ve always enjoyed realism that is not quite realistic, where the artist feels free to alter things if necessary. In this case, we see that Moore is concerned with colour and shape rather than fine detail. She’s employed a lot of artistic license: aren’t sunflowers supposed to be yellow? Not here! Instead, these sunflowers burn with hot reds and rich oranges, several of their petals finishing in a lick of yellow as if each petal were a flame.

A work with “Sunflower Salsa” for a title is obviously going to be about movement, and the artist conveys it with several techniques. I find that one of the most effective is the fragmented look she has given to the whole thing. Large, smooth areas of even colour and/or tone have a calming effect, whereas many smaller contrasting areas can have the opposite. Here, we see how Moore breaks up the entire work into flickering, flame-shaped pieces of colour that remind me of brushstrokes more than pencil marks.

Of course, such an approach is also risky. If they are not carefully organized, so many small broken areas can be chaotic. However, everything is well-coordinated here. The artist unifies the composition with a lot of diagonal lines to guide us around the work. The flowers in themselves contain diagonal lines, but they also add another kind of movement by twisting in subtly different directions as their petals spin around them. Our eyes jump here and there, eager to take it all in.

Moore has also used some cooler complements in her background, soft greens and blues. These cooler colours are like the chaperones of this dance, making sure that things don’t get out of hand. They hold the rest of the palette in check. However, I do notice some touches of red-violet in the lower right corner. It’s as if these decorous onlookers are beginning to catch some dancing fever! I think the rest of us soon will too!


Please be advised that your PAS Executive Board is going on vacation and will not be available via either email or Facebook for PAS related questions, duties, etc from Aug 14 through until September 30, 2015. You may submit a new membership or a renewal during this time, but your membership will be processed / acknowledged with a welcome email in October. If you should see us around on Facebook, we ask that you please respect our need for some time off and if you have a PAS related question or problem during this time, please contact us after September 30. Your understanding and patience is very much appreciated! Happy drawing! :)


a special announcement from the Pencil Art Society

Congratulations to Richard Chandler Hoff, Erwin P. Lewandowski, Clive Meredith and Gayla B. Salvati! We have wonderful news for you! The judges have selected you to receive Master Pencil Artist Status (MPAS).

What exactly is MPAS? MPAS is an acknowledgment of achievement. We created MPAS out of a desire to honour those pencil artists who have attained a certain level of skill, respect, professionalism, and mastery. Reaching this level is not easy for any artist, but pencil artists must also struggle against the lack of respect for their chosen medium, both from the art world and the general public. It is an uphill battle, but the more visible pencil artists are, and the finer their work, the more we all benefit.

Such a level as these artists have reached represents a great deal of talent, dedication, and perseverance. You are an inspiration! Let’s all continue to work and grow, and show the world that pencil is a TRULY fine art, fantastic medium! 


Early Winter

Early Winter

Waiting for Something to Happen

Waiting for Something to Happen


Black Slate Landing

Black Slate Landing

Crevice Stream IV

Crevice Stream IV




The Egret Pool

The Egret Pool


The Committee

The Committee

Vantage Point

Vantage Point



written by Erica Lindsay Walker, vice president, education chair

As I remarked in an earlier post, still life is a rather unusual genre for a graphite artist. This is unfortunate, for the two go together very beautifully, as we can see in Joyce Panadis’ wonderful “Des générations de fierté (Generations of Pride)”. This work was featured in our PAS 2014 International Exhibition, and it is even more impressive in person.

Des générations de fierté

Des générations de fierté

One of the things that stood out to me at once is the contrast between the artist’s subject and her way of presenting that subject. Her subject represents First Nations art and culture. Her take on it, though, is very much in the classic European tradition. For example, for her design she uses a very stable, traditional format: the triangle. Her rendering is realistic, with a lot of detail. This is quite a risk to take – will the two styles clash? Not in this case. Rather, by pairing an “unclassical” subject with a very classical style, she lends the former a special dignity.

Of course the moccasins are the most important element, but they are by no means the only important one. Every bit of this drawing has been carefully thought out and balanced. In spite of the very realistic treatment we can see the variety of abstract shapes, many created simply by shadow and placement. Looping lines fill the work, from the laces on the moccasins to the meandering strings of beads. Our eyes travel around and around, but the solid triangle of the main design keeps us anchored.

Another “anchoring” feature is the use of value, specifically the shadows. Overall this is a light-to-mid-value work, though there are several areas of very rich darks. These intense shades give the design strength and depth. Conversely, the light creates areas of delicately nuanced tones, reminding us of how subtle black-and-white can be. Panadis also handles her edges with this same delicate touch: everything seems both soft and tenderly clear.

But the aspect that draws me in the most is the way Panadis creates texture. It is extraordinary! Texture tends to invite contemplation: you want to linger over it and take in everything. Here, we can feel the soft, slightly pebbly leather and the tiny beads. We can run our fingers through the heavy fringe. The gentle light flows over every part and brings out the richness of each surface. I love texture, and for me, this drawing was one of the biggest visual treats in the show. I hope the artist continues to explore still life!