By BONNIE OWEN
For June, the Foothills Art Association are featuring mother and daughter artists Connie Grace and Sharon Meng. Visit foothillsartassociation.com for more information about these artists and more.
Connie Grace: “I discovered colored pencils when I attended the CPSA International show when it was in Washington, DC many years ago. It was love at first sight. I couldn’t believe you could accomplish that with colored pencils. So I signed up for a class with the incomparable Pat Barron at the Torpedo Factory Art Center in Alexandria, Virginia. I already had a studio there but it was a printmaking only studio and I could not show my drawings there.
“I joined the local chapter of the CPSA and entered the international show for the first time and was accepted. I was elated and knew then that I had found my niche. I have since been accepted seven more times. I introduced my daughter, Sharon to the colored pencil several years ago and she took to it immediately. She has become a very accomplished artist. My other daughter is an artist as well so I guess it’s in the genes.”
Sharon Meng: “It must be genetic because I have no formal art training! I have been creative all my life but only came to drawing about 10 years ago. In my professional career, I worked as a nurse midwife. I do believe there is some artistry involved in guiding a woman through pregnancy and bringing her child safely into the world.
“Creatively, I began with needle arts, progressing from cross stitch to quilting to bead weaving. I spent many years designing beaded jewelry. This served me in good stead when I had the opportunity to work as a midwife for three years on the Navajo reservation.
“When I told the Native women that I was a beader, they were hesitant to believe that a non-Native’s beading could be comparable to theirs. When I brought in my work, it opened doors to friendship.
“Ten years ago, my mother, then living on the east coast, came to San Diego to attend a colored pencil convention in Brea. I went with her one day and saw the phenomenal exhibition of works in colored pencil. When we returned home, we placed a small Navajo pottery bowl on the table and Mom and I both sketched it with colored pencils. My sketch was not bad so my mother encouraged me to continue drawing. Since then, I have attended the Colored Pencil Society annual convention every year, participating in two workshops on various topics each year. I have also taken several portrait workshops with noted colored pencil artists.
“I draw because it brings me peace and fulfillment. I choose portraits because I love the geography of the face. When I draw a portrait, I fall in love with my subject as I explore each subtle color and curve of the face. I find each colored pencil painting I do takes me a little further down the path of artist expression.”
— Bonnie Owen is editor of Footnotes, the monthly newsletter of the Foothills Art Association.