May 2023 Showcase - Colored Pencil Artwork

May 2023 Showcase - Colored Pencil Artwork

The three artists featured in the May 2023 issue of COLOR Magazine Showcase – Alan Woollett, James W. Thomas, and Cecile Baird – share the stories behind their beautiful artwork here in our blog. 

Spinning Jenny by Alan Woollett
12 x 14 inches
Faber-Castell Polychromos colored pencils on Fabriano Artistico smooth extra white 300gsm
(Artist's own photo)

In England, the wren is often referred to as “jenny wren” and this wren was flitting amongst old pipe work and valves at a Victorian cotton mill which I was visiting in Lancashire last year.

The title seemed apt as it was a cotton spinning mill. A spinning jenny is a machine used in textile manufacture, invented also in Lancashire and a key component in the industrialization of textile manufacture. I needed little persuasion to make this into a piece of art as it contains two of my favorite things: rust and a bird. The challenge of representing rust is always an enjoyable one and hopefully with this drawing I have achieved that along with an accurate representation of one of our most enigmatic little garden birds.

About Alan Woollett:


Alan lives and works in the southeastern corner of England and specializes in drawing birds and wildlife in colored pencil and graphite. He has produced a book on the subject and also teaches colored pencil workshops. He was elected to master artist status by the Woodson Art Museum in Wisconsin for his colored pencil bird art.

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Mrs. Mary Jane Terry by James Thomas
12.5 x 14 inches
PPrismacolor Premiere and Faber-Castell Polychromos on Strathmore Bristol Vellum.
Photo by Dr. Stephen Lewis. Used with permission.

The portrait, “Mrs. Mary Jane Terry,” portrays her after getting ready for the wedding of a grandson. The wedding was at Mary Jane’s church, in Shreveport, LA, where she had worked for several years with the church’s food pantry.

To achieve the light, airy nature of the top that Mrs. Terry wore and her light complexion, the toothy texture of the paper was filled in using the softer White Prismacolor pencil after which color was laid onto and blended in layers.

This is one of two portraits that were commissioned by the doctors who performed my cataract surgery. They gave me back my sight after I had been legally blind while wearing glasses. I had struggled with headaches due to my failing eyesight for the past few years and after seeing my work, the doctors decided to have me do a project for each of them, which helped me cover what my insurance would not.

About James Thomas:

Born in Louisiana in 1958, James has been drawing since he was five years old. After showing an artistic bent in grade school, he worked in custom auto paint and body. After his children were grown he achieved a Masters in Art Studio and taught at local universities. Now he builds sculptures and does colored pencil magic.

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Circle of Life by Cecile Baird
12.5 x 14 inches
Prismacolor and Luminance colored pencils on Stonehenge White
(Artist's own photo)

After I finished the setup for one of my previous pictures of orange slices, I ate the slices (a bonus of fruit still life) and just threw them down. When I saw the pile of rinds I couldn’t believe how neat they were. I didn’t move or change a thing. And there was my next picture! I photographed it immediately and couldn’t wait to get started.

It was, I think, a perfect composition with great lighting. I always like to do my own dark backgrounds and decided to do a dark blue (the complement of the orange) instead of just black. It is hard to detect in the photo but in person it adds just a little more pop to the entire picture. I love the repetition of the circles and the textures of the inside and outside of the rinds. Hopefully the viewer will find the orange rinds as surprisingly interesting and beautiful as I did.

About Cecile Baird:

Cecile has been doing colored pencil artwork for more than 30 years. Lighting is the inspiration for most of her work. Through dramatic lighting Cecile makes the viewer see everyday objects such as fruit in a new light. She has won many national and International awards and been published in numerous magazines and books.

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These artworks were published in the May 2023 issue of COLOR Magazine.

Download the digital version of the magazine for just $4.99, or subscribe and save 15%. Each issue is packed with step by step projects, critiques, colored pencil tips, artist profiles and much more.

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