Making pencils matter
A group exhibition takes rich and vibrant coloured pencil artworks beyond the ordinary.
COLOUR pencils aren’t just for children and colouring books.
Three artists intend to prove that in their group exhibition Yes! It’s Colour Pencils, with each bringing a unique approach to the often underestimated medium. The show is on at the Refinery Art Gallery in Kuala Lumpur.
Iranian artists Solmaz Mohammadi Pessian and Faranak Masihpour, and Penangite Sharon Siew Suan Kow explore the range of colour pencils through their choice of subjects, respectively nature, portraiture and still life.
Solmaz reveals it started as small idea to show the public how colour pencils could be fine art, leading her to rope in fellow enthusiasts Faranak and Sharon, then finding a willing gallery.
In this case, the Refinery Art Gallery has set up its space to host the 23 works from the trio.
“I chose colour pencil art because it is a very soft and gentle medium just like nature. So the brightness of colours in nature is easily presented with this medium,” says Solmaz in a recent interview.
“I can sit for a whole day and gently build up colours and textures of a flower with colour pencils,” she adds.
The self-taught artist, an IT engineer by training, began exploring the medium fulltime after moving to Kuala Lumpur from Tehran a decade ago.
Solmaz, 41, primarily focuses on the subject of nature – drawing flowers, butterflies and birds. However, she occasionally also uses her two children as subjects.
She notes that in addition to the subject matter, what makes each artist unique is their techniques of blending colour to layer textures.
“Colour pencil brands are not as wide (in variety) compared to oils and acrylic paints,” she mentions.
Faranak Masihpour, who prefers to go by the name Faramas, says her collection – composed of four portraits of elderly men and one of a child – runs on the emotional concept of living life to the fullest.
“As people travel through life, time writes its diary on their faces in each wrinkle, crease and blemish,” says Faramas.
Though Faramas never learned to paint formally, the experience she gained in illustration while studying fashion design, led to an interest in doing portraits. Her strengths lies in how she captures the soul of her subjects through their eyes.
“I’m trying to discover the emotions of each individual in their portraits. As an expressive way to highlight emotion in a face, I look at their eyes as the gateway to the soul,” she explains, adding that colour pencils are her main medium.
Siew, however, prefers to draw everyday items, and you’ll find things like pebbles or keychains on her list.
“My inspiration comes from everyday things that people would recognise at a glance.
I also want the work to be more than just a beautiful picture, so I have to put more thought into the meaning behind the piece,” says Siew.
The 47-year-old is relatively new to the colour pencil medium, picking it up in 2013.
Siew believes there is a perception that colour pencils are for children.
“Even teenagers prefer to use graphite or poster colours,” she says.
“When I say I’m a colour pencil artist, people think I just fill up colouring books.”
To broaden the appeal of colour pencil art, the three artists will be organising a free workshop at the Refinery Art Gallery on June 10, where attendees will be able to see how these artists get the most out of their colour pencils.
Yes! It’s Colour Pencils exhibition is on at the Refinery Art Gallery, G-3A, d6, Jalan Sentul in Kuala Lumpur till June 15. The gallery is open daily, 10am to 6pm. For more info or to book a space at the June 10 workshop, call 012-205 0716 or visit www.facebook.com/d7refinery.
Siew’s Head Or Tail (Faber-Castell Polychromos colour pencil, on Arches Aquarelle watercolour paper, 2016).
Solmaz’s inspiration comes primary from nature, and in Pure Velvet (colour pencil, 2010), she focuses on capturing the textures of butterfly wings and flower petals.
Faramas’ Faces Like Books IV (colour pencil on acid-free paper, 2016) follows her philosophy that faces act as the diary of one’s life, telling what a person has done with each wrinkle and detail.