Highlights of the 2012 CPSA National Convention

I just returned from the Colored Pencil Society of America national convention in Covington, KY (right across the river from Cincinnati, OH), July 31-August 4.  I thought I’d share some highlights….

It is so invigorating to be surrounded for a week by fellow colored pencil artists!  I got to hang out with Arlene Steinberg (author of Masterful Color), Elizabeth Patterson (who had a solo show in Paris earlier this year), Jeff George (multi-year CPSA award winner, including the CIPPY), and many others whose work I admire greatly.

I took a one-day workshop with John Ursillo and learned about using colored pencils on canvas.  The last time I used canvasboard for anything was about 30 years ago, so I was surprised to learn there are multiple grades of it now, including one with a very fine texture suitable for use with watercolors.  This is what he uses, along with any kind of colored pencils (wax- or oil-based) and watercolor pencils with and without solvents, along with liberal applications of workable fixative and final coating at the end to yield work that needs no matting or framing.  In fact he walked up to his own entry in the International Exhibition and raked his fingernails across it to demonstrate how durable the surface is!  That drew gasps, let me tell ya.

Speaking of the International Exhibition, it is fabulous!  There are 121 total pieces in the show.  The venue is the Carnegie Center for the Visual and Performing Arts, and the gallery director has been thrilled with the response from the local community.  If I remember correctly, four of the 19 award winners were first-time entrants!  This is an important fact to note, for anyone who is afraid to enter their work in a show.  You just never know!  The gallery of 2012 award winners is viewable online here.

I came home fired up to draw!  I’m already thinking about next year’s convention and International Exhibition in Brea, California, and what I might enter to try to get accepted into it for a third time and thereby earn CPSA “signature status”.

Whatever your favorite medium, I encourage you to find out what organizations exist to support it and join.  There’s nothing like meeting fellow artists who share your love of the medium and who teach, encourage and challenge each other, to rekindle your creative energies and make you a better artist.

Denise Howard and Arlene Steinberg

Me with Arlene Steinberg, author of Masterful Color

Denise Howard and Elizabeth Patterson

Me with Elizabeth Patterson

The reception gets underway

The reception gets underway

Denise Howard and Deborah Friedman

Me and my International Exhibition piece Their Origin (above) with Deborah Friedman and her piece Beach Stones in Lapis Light