October 09, 2007


Drawing 70th Anniversary Competition Winners

by Karen Stanger Johnston

Study for the Portrait of Autumn
by Chusit Wijarnjoragij, 2007, brown and white colored pencil, 25 x 19.

First Place: Chusit Wijarnjoragij

For Thailand-born Chusit Wijarnjoragij, every work of art he creates begins with mood and feeling. From there he focuses on capturing what he calls the “sublimely beautiful and mysterious nature of the human form.” Rendering the delicate details of the figure was the most time-consuming part of this drawing for the artist. “I also tried to convey the layering, variable transparency, and softness of her clothing,” he says. “I worked hard to represent not only the look of flowing hair but also what flowing hair feels like. I tried to reproduce the spark of life that is present in her eyes and courses through her whole being.”

Read about the semifinalists in each category, and vote, by October 30, for the Readers' Choice competition winner on our message board, Artists' Forum.

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Colored Pencil
Grand Prize Winner
Mixed Media

Born in Bangkok in 1973, Wijarnjoragij studied fine art there at Silpakorn University, where he graduated with honors in 1997. In 1999, his painting of a 17th-century Thai princess received critical acclaim in Thailand, and he has since painted portraits of the current Thai royal family. In 2005 he was selected as an artist member of the California Art Club. Now living in California, Wijarnjoragij is enjoying getting to know the characteristics of people from all over the world. “Understanding the essential aesthetics of my subject is the most important thing for me,” he says. “All the different skin tones, eye colors, features of each human body, mood, and character—these elements are what make individuals unique.”

For more information on Wijarnjoragij, visit his website at www.chusit.com.

Second Place:

Undeniably Cool
by William Rose, 2007, charcoal on museum board, 26 x 24.

Kansas artist William Rose has only been creating artwork for five or six years, having discovered his talent for drawing while doodling on his daughter’s art-class sketch pad. After completing a handful of figurative drawings, Rose found himself accepting frequent offers for commissioned portraits. Rose says he initially began using charcoal to sketch out ideas and quickly became enamored of the variety of tones and textures he could produce using vine and compressed charcoal with all types of paper. What attracts him to a particular subject? “Like many artists, I’m drawn to light, whether it’s streaming over a wall, floating across a cheekbone, or reflecting back at me from a subject’s eyes,” he says. In a figurative piece, he almost always begins with the eyes. “Is there anything, anywhere, more captivatingly beautiful, revealing, and complex?” Rose asks. “If I can’t get the eyes right, I’m done.”

His figurative pieces have been accepted into numerous juried shows and are in many private collections. In 2007 one of his large drawings was purchased by the insurance company H&R Block.

For more information on Rose, e-mail him at .

Third Place: Leonard Muscarella

by Leonard Muscarella, 2000, graphite on Bristol board, 11⅞ x 7⅜.

Given his experience dissecting the human body and studying medical illustration while in training to become a dental surgeon, New York City artist Leonard Muscarella says it was natural for him to gravitate to drawing, painting, and sculpting the human figure. Muscarella’s favorite subjects are people at work, doing what he calls “their art.” Through friends, he has behind-the-scenes access to the backstage of theaters and restaurant kitchens. Like most of his work, McMahon’s was done from photographs.

Muscarella says he never blends graphite strokes—every element of the drawing is achieved with lines and edges. These, he says, become like brushstrokes in a painting. To enhance the value scale of a drawing without producing a shine, Muscarella first lightly “colors in” the darkest value areas with a No. 2 pencil eraser, which breaks the nap a little and allows the paper to “grab” the graphite without much pressure. He frequently sharpens his pencils with an electric sharpener, only letting the point wear down when he wants to achieve a bold, wide line in one stroke.

Muscarella is an active member of the Buffalo Society of Artists, the Rochester Art Club, the Salmagundi Art Club, and The American Artists Professional League.

For more information on Muscarella, visit his website at www.lennieart.com, or e-mail him at .

More Semifinalists

Cyndy Baran

Pearls Among Thorns
by Cyndy Baran, 2005, graphite, 24 x 18.

Tennessee artist Cyndy Baran carries a notebook to write down her thoughts and sketch the images that flow through her brain when she quiets her mind. Baran looks through books to spark her imagination, and researches visual symbols and their cultural or historical meaning to enhance her communication of a concept.

“In this piece, my concept was to juxtapose the extremes of textures, which represents the dichotomy of many aspects of my life,” Baran explains. “I spent numerous hours layering the graphite to darken the deepest shadow areas and used an electric eraser to create the spiny thorns on the cacti. It was a slow, delicate process. A heavy hand on the eraser can irreparably damage the paper, and care must be taken to keep your hands (and other body parts) off the paper so as not to leave any oils on the piece.”

Baran has studied art at Watkins College of Art and Design, in Nashville, and Austin Peay State University, in Clarksville, both in Tennessee. Also an oil painter, she is a member of the Tennessee Art League, in Nashville, and her work has appeared in many exhibitions in Tennessee and juried competitions there and in Alabama and Wisconsin.

For more information on Baran, visit her website at www.cyndybaran.com.

Return to Royal Street
by Ricky Boyett, 2007, graphite, 20 2/8 x 16⅛.

Louisiana artist Ricky Boyett says his interest in producing serious art began in 2002 when his girlfriend, who was tired of seeing Boyett waste her computer paper with random doodling, purchased a set of quality art materials for him. “Unable to justify wasting them, I attempted to create something worth keeping and an obsession was born,” the artist explains. Now Boyett and his girlfriend, who is now his wife, are hoping to move to New Orleans, which is their favorite city and the source of inspiration.

This drawing depicts a scene in The French Quarter of New Orleans. “In the months following Hurricane Katrina, it was obvious something about the Quarter was missing; we just couldn’t put our finger on what,” Boyett remembers. “Then, a little over a year after the hurricane, my wife and I returned and were immediately overcome with the feeling that the French Quarter was back. The crowds were still small and many businesses had not reopened, but that French Quarter feeling had returned. It was then we realized what had been missing on previous trips: music. The music of the street had finally returned and made all the difference in the world. I chose to use graphite for this drawing to create a picture reminiscent of a vivid memory.”

For more information on Boyett, e-mail him at .

Empty Spaces
by Deborah Crossman, 2006, charcoal, 11½ x 11.

Much of Deborah Crossman’s work incorporates birds and bird imagery. “I am fascinated by the visual metaphors which can be drawn from them,” explains the Connecticut artist. “Birds also lend themselves to explorations of pattern, texture, and color.”

Crossman says this drawing was rooted in a feeling. “It’s about loss and the emptiness that surrounds it,” she says. “I wanted large, earthy hands that would complement the nest. The hands are those of a man who grew up on a farm and spent much of his life in the building trades. I loved their shape, the lines, the scars, the chipped nails, and even the dirt beneath them. I chose charcoal because of the emotion behind the piece. The emotion itself was dark, so black and white seemed appropriate.”

Crossman has bachelor of art and master of education degrees from the State University of New York at Buffalo, and a master of fine art degree in illustration from Savannah College of Art and Design, in Savannah, Georgia. In 2005 and 2006, her drawings were finalists in the animal art category of The Artist’s Magazine Annual Art Competition.

For more information on Crossman, e-mail her at .

Portrait of Jesse
by David Gluck, 2007, carbon pencil, 12 x 9.

David Gluck says he gets inspiration from some of the great masters of the past, including Pietro Annigoni, Rembrandt, George Inness, da Vinci, and William Bouguereau. “However,” Gluck says, “nature itself is my greatest muse.” Working primarily from nature to avoid giving his drawings a photographic appearance, he begins by carefully analyzing the subject. After making a loose sketch of the largest shapes and proportions, he goes back in and adds details. “The most important aspect of a work is its overall design,” Gluck says. “Each abstract shape contained within the image should be uniquely designed to enhance the aesthetics and interest of a work of art. Da Vinci’s work is a good example of this.”

A certified art educator with a bachelor of science degree in art education from Pennsylvania State University, in University Park, Gluck has studied with a variety of artists, including Kevin Gorges, Ryan Gauvin, and John Newton. Although he is a resident of Pennsylvania, he currently lives in Toronto, Canada.

For more information on Gluck, e-mail him at .

by Benat Iglesias, 2007, graphite, 20 x 16. Collection Arezu G. Ingle.

“What I like about a self-portrait is that you can work on it as long as you feel like it, without any kind of time pressure,” says New York artist Benat Iglesias. “You can take your time to observe every single feature of your face, getting so immersed in them that you may end up forgetting that you are painting yourself. At the beginning, I thought of this drawing as a detailed value study, which I wanted to use for a big painting, but I got involved in it and was enjoying the process so much that I ended up working on it for about a week and a half, three to four hours a day. I felt the process was very personal and intense, which is probably why I enjoyed it so much.”

Born in Spain, Iglesias has studied art at several schools in Europe and, since moving to New York in 2005, at the National Academy School of Fine Arts, The Art Students League of New York, and Andrew Reiss Studio. He has exhibited his work internationally and at group shows and juried exhibitions of the National Academy School of Fine Arts, and The Art Students League of New York, winning awards from both.

For more information on Iglesias, e-mail him at .

Rich Nelson

by Rich Nelson, 2006, charcoal and white Conte on toned paper, 20 x 16. Collection The Smith Family.

Like most of North Carolina artist Rich Nelson’s work, this portrait was done on commission and from life. “I am endlessly fascinated by people and consider it a privilege and a challenge to capture some aspect of their essence on canvas,” Nelson says. He draws with willow charcoal, and for this piece he used sky blue Canson paper, which he discovered in school. “The paper is really a grayish-green color,” he says. “It’s nice to be working out of the middle in a drawing, towards the light and dark.” He also uses white Canson, depending on the client’s preference.

Originally from Detroit, Michigan, Nelson earned a bachelor of fine art degree from the College for Creative Studies there in 1988. He initially worked as an illustrator, then as a portrait artist, gallery artist, and instructor. He has won many awards and completed more than 150 commissioned portraits, although he also paints landscapes, still lifes, and figurative gallery pieces.

For more information on Nelson, visit his website at www.richnelson.com, or e-mail him at .

Portrait of Sage
by Janvier Rollande, 2006, graphite, 17¼ x 12¾. Private collection.

Maine artist Janvier Rollande begins each portrait with a visit to the client’s home, taking many photographs in different settings. “I like to have clients pose for me in their own environment,” Rollande says. “This allows me to get a better sense of the person and to get a more natural pose.” Working from the photos in her studio, she begins by drawing the eyes and moves outward from there in a circular fashion. She applies the graphite in diagonal strokes, layering the marks until they disappear and she achieves the tone she wants. “I never rub or smudge the graphite,” the artist says. “I believe that doing so extinguishes the light of the paper. I apply layer after layer to the drawing, which ends up with a soft and airy feel. It almost looks airbrushed. Each drawing takes about a year to complete, but the end result is worth the painstaking effort.”

Rollande earned a bachelor of fine art degree in drawing and a bachelor of art degree in art history from the University of New Hampshire, in Durham in 1983. She then studied fine art and art education at the University of Massachusetts, in Amherst, until 1986. Her work is in the Davidson Collection of Realist Works on Paper at The Art Institute of Chicago, and in the permanent collection of the Arkansas Arts Center, in Little Rock.

For more information on Rollande, e-mail her at .

American Artist would like to thank the following sponsors for making our 70th Anniversary Competition a success:

Blick Art Materials
General Pencil
Hartford Fine Art & Framing
Jerry’s Artarama
Legion Paper
Savoir Faire

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That Self Portrait by
Benat Iglesias, is intense and powerful. Great work.

I am impressed by the quality of work shown through these artists. Their works are among the finest I have seen. Thank you and please keep up this inspirational section.

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