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Colored pencil art show a lead cinch
JC Arts Center show full of stunning drawings

by Hatcher Hurd

October 07, 2013

Debra Yaun, president of the Atlanta chapter of the Colored Pencil Society of America, stands with one of her drawings at the Johns Creek Arts Center. It’s called "Almost Autumn Tapestry." It is just one of many colored pencil works on display at the JCAC.HATCHER HURD/Staff.
"Silji" is a work on black paper and white pencil by Keith Yaun.HATCHER HURD/Staff.
This is a detail from first-place winner Joan Gelbat’s "Classic Reflections." Notice the cemetery caught in the reflection from the side of the classic 1950s car.HATCHER HURD/Staff.
"Poochie" is the title of this charming work by Charlotte Boutt.HATCHER HURD/Staff.
Joan Gelbat gave this amazing drawing the whimsical title of "I Have an Idea." HATCHER HURD/Staff.
"Mel’s Diner," so evocative of "American Graffiti," was done by Johns Creek resident Don Jones, who started his colored pencil art a year ago.HATCHER HURD/Staff.
"Melissa and Blackie" is the work of Susan Calderon, one of the instructors at the JCAC.HATCHER HURD/Staff.
JOHNS CREEK, Ga. When you think of fine art, colored pencils may not be the first medium that leaps to mind. But a visit to the Johns Creek Arts Center could change that a lot.

The Colored Pencil Society of America's Atlanta chapter is presenting a juried exhibition, "Fall Colors," at the JCAC through Oct. 21. It is a show that is filled with amazing works of art that will leave patrons with a new appreciation of the colored pencil.

"This is the first Pencil Society exhibition we have had at the Arts Center," said JCAC Executive Director Gail Hisle. "What we are trying to do is to bring different art media to the Arts Center for it to be a venue for them."

Hisle said the quality of the work that is on exhibit "just takes my breath away."

"It truly is incredible to see what these artists do in this medium. The only place you can find this quality is perhaps in a gallery downtown," Hisle said.

People have come from as far away as Stone Mountain to look at the exhibition.

Colored pencil artist Debra Yaun is not surprised. Not only is she president of the Atlanta chapter of the Colored Pencil Society of America, she is an art teacher at JCAC.

"People do not expect to see the photo-realism effect these artists can achieve with their art," said Yaun. "It takes amazing patience to work drawing series of lines to create an image."

They often work on sanded paper to make it more erose, which allows it to hold more of the pencil lead. The color can also be spread out with brushes. Many artists prefer colored pencil as a medium because it is nontoxic and more portable than other art media.

"It is also easier to start and stop your work," Yaun said. "There is a lot of upside. What you need more of is patience."

Pencil is versatile as well. Most drawings are on paper, but check colored pencil art online and you can find pencil art on sand dollars and clam and oyster shells. But that is not to say such art is gimmicky.

Browsing the 55 submissions to the JCAC exhibition, the art stands on its own. Some are simply astonishing.

"Most color pencil artists work from photographs. It takes so long to complete a drawing that you can't find many subjects that won't move or change in some way," Yaun said.

Yaun was a watercolorist before she became interested in pencil art in 1995. By then she had quit her job in an art department to work on her art full-time. She also teaches portraiture, mixed-media as well as colored pencil.

"I like the fine detail you can achieve with colored pencils," she said.

To see the achievements of the artists, the exhibition runs through Oct. 21. The JC Arts Center is at 6290 Abbotts Bridge Road in Johns Creek.

Viewing hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. If you would like to arrange another time, especially for a group, call the Arts Center at 770-623-8448.