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 that can be achieved with colored pencils have won over many artists who might not have considered them professional tools for their craft.
An art exhibit at the Pacific Beach/Taylor Library shows the versatility of colored pencils. The 2022 Members Lounge features artwork drawn by members of the San Diego Chapter of the Colored Pencil Society of America (CPSA District Chapter 202).
The exhibition, which opened in June, will end on August 13. It can be viewed for free in the Taylor Gallery/Community Room at the library, 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: Taylor Gallery/Pacific Beach Library Community Hall, 4375 Cass St.
Annual subscription : $20 for Local plus $45 for CPHA National Membership. Must be a national member to join the chapter.
Good to know: The chapter is also available on Facebook. Benefits of membership include receipt of the national magazine, discounted entry fees for the CPHA International Expo and workshops at the CPHA Congress.
Members of the chapter – which meets monthly at the PB Library – said they believe that after attending one or two meetings, many artists might fall in love with using colored pencils.
Brenda “Blade” Villegas, Chapter Vice President, has been an artist all her life. She not only studied art and obtained an art degree, she even went to France at the age of 30 to continue her studies.
“I discovered colored pencils in the United States before going to France,” Villegas said. “Once I was there, the other students were fascinated with colored pencils – they never thought of it as a professional medium.”
Villegas now works exclusively with colored pencils, having painted 5ft by 7ft artworks for years.
“I received a spinal injury and I couldn’t do my big paintings anymore,” she explained. “However, now all I need is a piece of paper and pencils.”
Villegas has said that her work is often compared to American modernist artist Georgia O’Keeffe and that she often paints similar subjects.
“I love nature and plants, so I do a lot of succulents, flowers, and plants in general,” Villegas said. “But I also do koi fish, portraits and other things.”
Villegas said that in addition to illustration materials being portable, she prefers colored pencils.
“They’re not messy so there’s no cleanup. They have very cheap to buy; a professional quality colored pencil only costs about $1.50. And except for the colors I use frequently, they last a long time – I still use the same pencils I bought 45 years ago,” she said.
Villegas added that for the best results, artists should use professional-grade colored pencils, not cheap brands, and quality drafting paper.
Chapter President Judy Jacobs joined about seven years ago. She said the interaction with other artists and the techniques she learned are just a few benefits of membership.
“At meetings, I always pick up new techniques and new ideas,” Jacobs said. “No matter your level, novice or experienced, you can always benefit from sharing information.”
Like Villegas, Jacobs said she has always had an interest in art and graduated in fine arts. She has worked with watercolour, pen and ink, acrylic and graphite. His favorite subjects are landscapes, animal portraits and still lifes.
Like many others, her curiosity was piqued when she first saw colored pencil drawings.
“I couldn’t believe it was done with colored pencil; the color was so rich and intense,” Jacobs said. “Colored pencil can’t be pre-mixed, so you get the different intensities by layering the different colors together.”
Jacobs said membership has been down since the pandemic began, but they have been able to continue to meet virtually through Zoom and some members still prefer it.
Zoom also gives members the ability to take courses remotely, which are often offered in meetings.
Another popular meeting feature is the “Show and Tell” segment, where each artist shares their current work and can ask for feedback or help.
Meetings are held in the Taylor Gallery at the Pacific Beach Library, which is well-suited with proper lighting for artists at work.
Villegas added that the techniques and mini-workshops shared at the meetings are for new and advanced members.
“We encourage people to come and meet us,” Villegas said. “We are very welcoming, non-judgmental and embrace diversity at all levels. Your job shouldn’t look like anyone else’s. Everyone can find their place in colored pencils.