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HOW WE CHOSE THE OFFICIAL PENCIL MEDIA FOR PAS

written by Erica Lindsay Walker, Vice President, Education Chair

There’s nothing better — or more overlooked — than the humble pencil. We artists who use it know that it can do anything, but the rest of the world has yet to be convinced. That is one of the purposes of the Pencil Art Society: to draw attention to this lowly medium and raise its stature to the level it deserves.

In order to represent pencil at its fullest potential, we chose the following categories: graphite, coloured pencil used dry and with solvent, watersoluble pencils used dry, charcoal, and conté. In so doing, we also chose NOT to include several others that some might feel we should have.

Many media are currently produced in pencil form, such as pastel pencils for example. Why not include them? Certainly, arguments can be made in favour of them. But, while making our decisions, we also took into consideration the artists who use these media: what they need, what they want, and what they already have. Pastel pencils are not a huge, important branch of the pastel medium, and artists who work in pastel already have many groups and societies available to them. Artists who work primarily in the categories we have chosen have practically nowhere to lay their heads.

Graphite and coloured pencil were, of course, the most obvious choices for a Society devoted to pencil. They seem to go together so naturally. Many graphite artists enjoy the control and palette of coloured pencil; many coloured pencil artists retain a love for graphite’s simplicity and silvery tone.

Watersoluble used dry? This might puzzle some. Why is solvent acceptable, and not water? We thought about this for a very long time, discussing it at several executive board meetings. In the end we decided against the use of water, because when water is added, this medium can then be classified as “watercolour” as opposed to pencil. Adding solvent to coloured pencil does not reclassify that medium. Coloured pencil with solvent added is still considered coloured pencil, but watersoluble coloured pencil with water added is then “watercolour.” Watercolourists have so many societies already!

Finally, what about charcoal and conté?

These media have a long history in stick form, but they have also been in pencil form for decades. Many artists prefer the pencil form to the more traditional one. Thus, being in pencil form has most certainly changed the overall look of works produced in charcoal and conté. Besides, the societies and groups devoted to them are, to our knowledge, practically nonexistent.

We have had an extremely positive response from many artists who work in these categories. They have expressed how isolated they have felt, and how thrilled they are to have found PAS. However, we also recognize that pencil artists LOVE to combine their pencils with other media. That is the main reason why we chose to feature a Mixed Media section in our Annual Online Exhibit. 50% pencil, and after that … anything goes! We have the same policy for our web site and FB page. One of the most exciting things about pencil is the way in which artists play with it. We hope PAS will open everyone’s eyes to the extraordinary possibilities of all things pencil!

3 comments to HOW WE CHOSE THE OFFICIAL PENCIL MEDIA FOR PAS

  • Gayle

    Why did you leave drawing with ink or marker out? That’s one of my favorite ways to use the pencil. Draw and then ink.

    • PENCIL ART SOCIETY

      Hi Gayle, thanks so much for your comment. You’re certainly not the only artist who loves to combine pencil with other media such as ink! A LOT of pencil artists love using pencil with other media. That’s the reason we chose to feature a Mixed Media section in our Annual Online Exhibit. As we state above: “50% pencil, and after that … anything goes!”

  • I am excited to join you today as a new member! As silverpoint is a precursor to graphite pencils, might the board consider including this as an acceptable medium for PAS shows? Looking forward to participating!