"Drawing" Magazine 2006 Cover Competition

6 Jun 2008

0702drcovercomp1_463x600_1It was tough, but we chose 10 finalists who best showcase the skill level and imagination of our readers and named Noel A. Carmack the Drawing Magazine Cover Competition Winner for 2006.

Noel A. Carmack

by Noel A. Carmack, 2006, black colored pencil heightened with white,
25½ x 19¾. All artwork this article collection the artist unless otherwise indicated.

The winner of Drawing magazine’s 2006 Cover Competition is Noel A. Carmack, an artist and a part-time drawing instructor at Utah State University, in Logan. Carmack, a draftsman with a strong affinity for presenting the human condition as expressed through the figure, earned an M.F.A degree in drawing from Utah State University in 1997. Now he teaches his students to draw using classical form-building methods, including accumulated lines, subtle value changes, heightened values, and expressive line.

Whether he’s working on a narrative piece or a portrait, Carmack finds the human element essential to his work. The cover portrait of a figure-drawing model, Shannon, seems pensive, but the artist explains that he was trying to present the sitter’s personality rather than suggest a specific emotion or mood. “Shannon had a very pleasant, dignified face,” says Carmack. “Her slender limbs and arms were pleasing and elegant, too. I asked her to bring a nice blouse for the sitting because I wanted to further present that elegance. And I posed her in the chair in that particular posture because I wanted her arms exposed.
“I also wanted to emphasize the line of the curve in her right hand—but just the contour—so I left it partially unfinished,” the artist continues. “I also liked the folds of the blouse and wanted to leave them partially unfinished for the same reason.” The artist carefully applied white highlights on the blouse’s folds. “I am very selective about where I place heightening,” says Carmack. “I make sure that I don’t use white where I don’t want the viewer’s eye to go. Heightened drawings can be tricky in that way. Just remember, less says more. Be very selective in the placement of your white.”

2006, black colored pencil heightened with white on board,
32 x 40.
by Noel A. Carmack, 2006, black colored pencil heightened with white, 40 x 32.

Shannon was drawn with black colored pencil on Strathmore 400 Series Artagain Gotham Gray paper. Carmack also uses black Koh-I-Noor and Faber-Castell colored pencils for their smooth, wax-based composition. When he wants to achieve darker lines and areas of tone, he uses black Prismacolor Nupastel color sticks because he likes the density of value he can achieve with them. He generally uses graphite only for sketches, as he isn’t fond of its silvery-gray color and sheen. Conté sticks are also in his toolbox; Carmack explains that he can get a precise line by sharpening the end of a Conté stick on a toothed piece of scrap paper until he gets a “calligraphic point”—a chiseled point that can yield tight lines or wider strokes.

The artist starts a drawing by marking the major points of reference on the figure and faintly drawing construction lines and axis lines. The environment is sketched in with an eye for the overall composition and dark-light pattern. He works a piece to the same level of completion in all areas throughout the drawing process to ensure a cohesive whole, and he strives to lay down lines in a gestural way to keep the drawing fresh.

Carmack credits his professors and instructors for his work ethic and principles, and lists as inspiration Old Masters such as Rembrandt, Leonardo, Michelangelo, and Goya; and modern artists such as Käthe Kollwitz, Nicolai Fechin, Charles Lebrun, Paul Cadmus, Hyman Bloom, Ted Seth Jacobs, Claudio Bravo, and Sigmund Abeles.

by Frank Strazzulla Jr., 2004, charcoal,
28 x 20. Collection Jim and Nancy Sandell.

Frank Strazzulla Jr.
This Massachusetts native is steeped in traditional art education, having earned a B.F.A. and an M.F.A. in part at the studio of Charles Cecil and Daniel Graves, in Florence, Italy. He attributes much of his artistic growth to the copying of drawings by the Old Masters in the Uffizi Gallery, in Florence; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, in New York City; the Fogg Art Museum at Harvard University, in Cambridge, Massachusetts; and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. “I will never stop the practice of copying, be it drawings or paintings—it is far too beneficial,” he says. “The great artists from the past are a never-ending source of inspiration and help.”

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Strazzulla, who is a disciple of the 19th-century French Academic method of drawing, says he carefully considers and challenges all aspects of a piece throughout his process. “Structure, form, proportion, and symmetry are all integral parts of the ultimate goal: seeking that which is beautiful, capturing the beauty that exists in nature,” he explains. “In this endeavor not only is my traditional training called upon but also my thoughts are always with the great masters. Their work, their advice, and their ideas are ever-present. Hopefully all this helps me create a drawing that in the end seeks both truth and beauty.”

Linda Lucas Hardy

by Linda Lucas Hardy, 2006, graphite, 12 x 9.

Texas artist Linda Lucas Hardy has won nearly 30 awards in the last two years for her detailed colored-pencil drawings. She works in layers and uses a mechanical pencil with 2B lead and a tortillon for delicate texture. “I begin with a fairly detailed line drawing—I want the security of knowing where everything goes,” Hardy explains. “Once I’m satisfied with the drawing, I begin to lightly and carefully place each part. I want all the pieces in place before I make an area permanent—I want to avoid having to remove something, or erase, so I take care every step of the way. When most of the elements are placed, I begin adding layers of graphite until I achieve the desired darks.

“The inspiration for this piece,” Hardy continues, “was my daughter-in-law’s hands. The length of her fingers reminded me of the long, tapered fingers so often depicted in Renaissance paintings—therefore, the idea of drawing them had a certain appeal. This pose unfortunately did not reveal the true length of her fingers, but I knew it would make a lovely drawing so I chose to do it anyway.”

Alyona Nickelsen

Summer Time
by Alyona Nickelsen, 2006, colored pencil,
13 x 9.

The longest stage in Alyona Nickelsen’s colored-pencil process is establishing the underdrawing. She works in layers, glazing the colors to begin developing the right tonal values and to provide a basic road map for the work. Brushing mineral spirits on the underdrawing helps her eliminate noticeable pencil strokes, and a glazing yellow in lit areas of the composition “brings glowing life to the picture,” according to the artist.

Her subject matter is informed by her childhood in the Ukraine. “In Ukrainian culture, brightly colored women’s shawls are one element of the folklore costumes,” Nickelsen says. “As a child I was always fascinated with the striking effect of those bright colors on deep-black backgrounds. I think of black backgrounds as a symbol of hard reality and bright colors as the challenge to it. It is a hymn to life and the human soul. And the high contrast is reminiscent of a child’s vision. With contrast, the brightest colors, and the most realistic rendering possible, one can get an eye-popping effect that will allow even small artwork to attract attention from across the room and really make a statement.”

John C. Babin

by John C. Babin, 2006, graphite,
18 x 14.

John C. Babin says that when he is choosing his subject matter he considers what touches the heart and provokes emotions. “I felt that Mikayla was an exceptional subject,” Babin recalls. “When I met her, she displayed an immediate charm and innocence. I just had to draw this child.”

Babin’s drawings start with digital photography and image-manipulation software. When he has formed the composition, the artist makes a tight graphite outline drawing. He renders the most challenging areas first. Working from his reference photos, Babin completes his rendering and lets the drawing sit for a day before adjusting the shading and small details.

Paul Greiser

Although Paul Greiser has had no formal training as an artist, he has benefited from private instruction—especially from his grandfather, who was a draftsman for the Chance Vought Aircraft Company and the Remington Arms Company. “He fostered creativity while instilling a firm foundation in technique and realism,” says Greiser. “To this day I remain grateful to him and his craft, and I continue to work with some of the same tools he worked with two generations ago.”

Clouds I
by Paul Greiser, 2005, graphite, 14 x 11. Private collection.

The artist works in the graphics and illustration industry. His fine-art pieces often feature clouds and industrial architecture. The seeming disparity of subject matter and methods extends through his list of influences—Frank Lloyd Wright, Juan Gris, Robert Motherwell, Andrew Wyeth, H. R. Giger, and Salvador Dalí. The common thread, however, is a love for detail. “I pore over my work, riding ever closer to obsession,” Greiser says. “At the final stage, I work with two or three sets of pencils, each at a different level of sharpness. Sometimes I feel the magic is in keeping all the tools organized during that stage—a stage that will often extend over weeks and through countless hours.” Contact Greiser for more information.

Tyson Snow

This Arizona artist works in reverse—from dark to light—in creating his pieces on black illustration board. “I start with the highlight first to establish the lightest value in the piece, using a white pencil,” says Tyson Snow, a former illustrator and designer. “Then I begin turning the form using less pressure with the same pencil to create lighter or darker values as I move away from the highlights.”


San Woman
by Tyson Snow, 2006, white pencil on black board, 16 x 11½. Collection Mr. & Mrs. Jim Stanton.

His method requires him to work very carefully and slowly, especially in the early stages. “There is very little allowance in the mistakes department in this particular medium,” Snow says. “But the white-on-black medium gives almost instant gratification because the stark-white pencil on the flat, black background causes an immediate (and lightninglike) contrast.” The artist starts with the eyes, because to him a portrait that doesn’t capture the presence and life in the eyes is doomed to fail. Snow also takes great care when choosing the vantage point and background for his portraits, making sure to place the subject matter in an appropriate environment and at eye level. “I make an effort to capture the essence of an individual and present it to the viewer almost as though I were introducing him or her in person,” he says. “I attempt to tell my subjects’ stories through their faces, especially their eyes, which give them life and breath. All these elements, surroundings, costumes, and faces lend narrative to the piece.”

Marilyn Rabetz

She counts minimalist painter Ad Reinhardt among her teachers, but Marilyn Rabetz is a realist—albeit with more than a dollop of the magical. “I am very attracted to the physical presence and solidity of objects, but also to the creation of worlds within worlds, and the parallel realities that are possible on a flat picture plane,” the artist says. “Coming from a background of abstract-expressionist teachers, I am passionately invested in the formal elements of composition—balance, rhythm, tonal contrast, direction, repetition, and the like—while overlaying these elements with realist and magical imagery.”

by Marilyn Rabetz, 2004, colored pencil, 24 x 19. Private collection.

Objects for her still-life pieces often sit around her studio for long periods of time until she finds that they go together with a degree of harmony. “It’s usually about shape or color, not about the purpose or use of the item,” she says. “I like to use objects whose color or shape seems to echo other things in the piece.” The artist works directly from the objects—never from photographs.

Rabetz is the director of the Richmond Art Center, at Loomis Chaffee School, in Windsor, Connecticut. She is a member of the Colored Pencil Society of America and has participated in numerous exhibitions in galleries and museums in the Northeast.

Stephen Whiting

If careful readers notice a similarity in Stephen Whiting’s submission and last year’s Drawing Cover Competition winner, it’s for several good reasons: Both Whiting and 2005 competition winner Casey Baugh are students of Richard Schmid, the celebrated painter and portraitist. Whiting and Baugh have been friends since childhood, and Whiting explains that Baugh helped him get started on his fine-art path.

Caught Her Eye
by Stephen Whiting, 2006, charcoal,
20 x 13.
Private collection.

Whiting’s approach to charcoal portraits is slightly different, however. “I throw a light dusting of charcoal around the surface, like Casey does, but I don’t fix it, and I really localize it right in the face area,” says Baugh. “Then I work my edges.”

Whiting, of Chattanooga, Tennessee, names Nicolai Fechin, Antonio Mancini, John Singer Sargent, Harley Brown, and Schmid among his most important influences. The artist attempts to visualize his drawings in their completion before starting work. “I do not try to see all the strokes in my head, but I do try to work out the background, composition, and any tricky areas in the drawing, values, or edges before I begin,” Whiting explains. “I know my drawing is finished when I have reached the goal I set for myself during that previsualization phase.” Contact Whiting for more information.

by David Gluck, 2006, carbon pencil and white chalk on hand-toned paper,
22 x 12.
Private collection.

David Gluck

David Gluck is working his way through the Academy of Realist Art, in Toronto, while also serving as an art educator in the Pittsburgh public school system. “I tell my students to leave their ‘ugliness’ outside the door before they enter my classroom,” says Gluck. “I think that as an artist it is important to be focused on the beauty of the subject in front of us, and nothing else, at all times.”

Gluck begins academic drawings like this one by hand-toning a sheet of watercolor paper to create a neutral value. He then builds the lights and darks. The trickiest part: creating an extended figure drawing that retains a sense of dynamism. “Too often the model shifts into a stiffer but more comfortable pose, causing things to be static,” comments the artist. Contact Gluck for more information.

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javad tajeddini wrote
on 7 Nov 2007 1:45 AM
rena wrote
on 4 Jun 2008 10:04 AM
i used to buy the magazine at barnes and noble or hastings (only two stores down here that sell anything) but now i can't find it. where can i get it? also a long time ago i read an article on a noble prize or nobel prize contest for drawing. does anyone know where i can find info? also (again) i would like to subscribe to the drawing magazine. does it still exist?