Colored Pencil Society of America draws on color, techniques for inspiration
San Diego Chapter meets monthly in the Pacific Beach Library
When many people think of art, they tend to think in terms of watercolor, oil or even charcoal.
However, the depth of color and painting effects able to be achieved with colored pencils have won over many artists who might not have considered them as professional tools for their craft.
An art exhibit at the Pacific Beach/Taylor Library shows the versatility of colored pencils. The 2022 Members Show includes artwork drawn by members of the San Diego chapter of the Colored Pencil Society of America (CPSA District Chapter 202).
The show that opened in June will close on Aug. 13. It can be viewed for free in the library’s Taylor Gallery/Community Room, 4375 Cass St. in Pacific Beach.
Want to join?
San Diego Chapter of the Colored Pencil Society of America
When: Monthly, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the second Saturday.
Where: Pacific Beach Library’s Taylor Gallery/Community Room, 4375 Cass St.
Annual dues: $20 for local chapter plus $45 for national CPSA membership. Must be a national member to join chapter.
Good to know: The chapter can also be found on Facebook. Membership benefits include receiving the national magazine, discount entry fees for CPSA International Exhibition and workshops at CPSA convention.
Members of the chapter — which meets monthly at the PB Library — said they believe that after attending one or two meetings many artists might just fall in love with using colored pencils.
Brenda “Blade” Villegas, the chapter’s vice president, has been an artist all her life. She not only studied art and received an art degree, she even went to France when she was in her 30s to further her studies.
“I was introduced to colored pencils in the U.S. before I went to France,” Villegas said. “Once I was there, the other students were fascinated by colored pencils — they never thought of it as a professional medium.”
Villegas now works exclusively in colored pencils, after painting 5-foot by 7-foot artwork for years.
“I received a spinal injury and could no longer do my big paintings,” she explained. “However, now all I need is a piece of paper and the pencils.”
Villegas said her work is often compared to American modernist artist Georgia O’Keeffe, and she often paints similar subject matter.
“I like nature and plants, so I do a lot of succulents and flowers and plants in general,” Villegas said. “But I also do koi fish, portraits and other things.”
Villegas said in addition to the artwork materials being portable, she prefers colored pencils.
“They aren’t messy so there is no cleanup. They’ve very inexpensive to purchase; a professional grade colored pencil is only about $1.50. And except for the colors I use frequently, they last a long time — I’m still using the same pencils I bought 45 years ago,” she said.
Villegas added that to achieve the best results, artists should use professional grade colored pencils, not cheap brands, as well as quality paper for drawing.
Chapter President Judy Jacobs joined about seven years ago. She said the interaction with other artists and techniques she has learned are just a couple benefits of membership.
“At the meetings, I always pick up some new techniques and new ideas,” Jacobs said. “It doesn’t matter what level you are, novice or experienced, you can always benefit by sharing information.”
Like Villegas, Jacobs said she has always been interested in art and earned her degree in fine arts. She has worked with watercolor, pen and ink, acrylic and graphite. Her favorite subjects include landscapes, animal portraits and still life.
Like many others, her curiosity was piqued when she first saw some colored pencil art.
“I couldn’t believe it was done with a colored pencil; the color was so rich and so intense,” Jacobs said. “Colored pencil can not be premixed, so you achieve the different intensities by layering the different colors together.”
Jacobs said membership has been down since the pandemic began, but they were able to continue to meet virtually by Zoom and some members still prefer it.
Zoom also gives members the opportunity to take remote classes, which are often offered at meetings.
Another popular meeting feature is the “Show and Tell” segment, in which each artist shares their current work and can ask for feedback or help.
Meetings are held in the Pacific Beach Library’s Taylor Gallery, which is well-suited with lighting appropriate for artists at work.
Villegas added that the techniques and mini-workshops shared at meetings are geared towards new and advanced members.
“We encourage people to come in and meet us,” Villegas said. “We’re very welcoming, we’re not judgmental and we embrace diversity on all levels. Your work doesn’t have to be like anybody else’s. Everybody can find their niche in colored pencils.”