Sunday, 01 July 2012 02:30
By D Francis
Antigua St. John’s - Sitting down with these two young portrait artists to speak with them about their work, it was quite evident that their commitment to and interest in art goes well beyond drawing images on paper.
According to owner of Pencil Masters Inc. Anson Henry, and Marketing Personnel Zana (Zee) Kentish, they are simply two artists with one goal -- and it’s creating beauty with graphite while taking the discipline to another level.
Zana, who is a Technical Drawing Teacher at Clare Hall Secondary School, said she has been into art basically all her life as a hobby, but that her interest slowed somewhat during her tertiary training. However, meeting Henry during that period had stimulated her psyche to fresh proportions.
“After college, although I had interest in art, I never really followed up with it much. Then I met Anson in (Teacher Training Department at Antigua State College) and my interest started to build again until we got together doing this business,” Zee remarked.
Henry said he started young as well, at about the age of seven, but never really got serious with art until he met his Art Teacher Harlon Nathan in second form at Antigua Grammar School.
He taught at Greenbay and Ottos Comprehensive schools before being summoned to study Teacher Training.
Henry recalled that he had intended to debut Pencil Masters Inc. in 2011 with a small group of artists that he saw had potential, but since that had not worked out he went solo until he discovered Zee.
“I had intentions to use these six artists to raise awareness of our skills but they had other things going on and weren’t warming up to the idea that much, so I continued solo until I met Zana at Teacher Training. She was sitting down doing pastels and I realised she had some skills.”
But according to Zana, “I was doing this because I was a bit bored in class.”
Henry continued: “So I told her to draw something for me and she looked a bit stunned but said OK.”
He said he was impressed with what he saw and decided right there and then that she was going to reach places.
Zana said, “I must give credit to Anson for really channeling my potential in this way because architecture was my focus and art was my hobby so I didn’t really put my all into it.
“It’s funny though because my first initial piece was of Anson; he was doing a drawing and decided to take a break and he fell asleep. I took a picture while he was sleeping, drew it and I gave it to him he didn’t know I was working on it.”
Henry said “it was good, it was a good piece, and I was very impressed. I mean she had a knack for speed with her drawings. I mean what she would take two hours or so to do might take me days. Her style might have looked a little rough but still with a realistic look and from then on she built on sharpening her skills.
The response from the public towards our work so far has been very encouraging.”
The portrait-couple mostly do pencil art but can do other pieces of varying subjects as well.
Henry said he believes Antiguans and Barbudans have a long way to go in art appreciation.
“The awareness or even a high level of appreciation for art is not yet seen in Antigua and even in the Caribbean for that matter. It’s something still new to us compared to, let’s say, visitors. It’s not every day we see a detailed portrait, all over, it’s about just the same style and we want our product to be unique and different so when you look at it, it will have an impact and tell a story,” he said.
The art couple is mounting their first Art Camp from July 9th – 27th and hopes parents will see it fit to send their children.
Henry explained, “We want to display their work at the end of this camp to show the public. Even if it is one piece, it should evoke some thought and connection. We want them to see that pencil could create something you could touch and raise an emotion.
“Art is another form of expression,” he added. “As teachers, we observe that students are lacking in various forms of expression, how they feel, what they think, and we want to bring this out through art.”
Zee said they’ve already begun to perceive growing interest regarding the camp.
She appealed to young and upcoming artists to never say, I can’t draw. “Don’t do this there is no right or wrong way to express yourself through art. I mean, sometimes you have a thought and start to draw you’d be surprised to see the outcome and it doesn’t take much to bring out an interesting piece. For us, it’s the ordinary pencils we buy in the local stores and get the job done like any professional. Just start at the level you can, then expand gradually, learn and develop you technique, and you’ll get there”.
Henry said, “It’s always a challenge at some point in time in the art world, but as they say the biggest challenge you have to overcome is yourself. Never be satisfied with one level, never think what you’ve just done is your best. Find a way to better that and find role models to progress. With me art is not something I sit down and do every day, but I try to better my last piece every time and try and master new and exciting techniques.”
He said he hopes to reach a stage in art that not many have achieved and it’s that of what he called ‘the illusion of the eye’ creating a piece that you think you can actually touch as if it’s real.
“I’ve seen a piece where someone reached out to touch a mole on a portrait as if it’s real. That’s the level I’m seeking to accomplish in the profession. I’ve come close but not quite there yet and I am hoping to reach those great levels soon.”
He referred to art great Pablo Picasso noting how his work impacted generations long after his death.
This creative couple, though fairly fresh on the block, boasts a host of portraits of a number of local individuals and popular figures.
In terms of their future plans, Anson and Zee said an Art Studio with a difference is what they have their eyes set on.
“Since we are working together as a team, our goal is to get our own studio where young artists can display their work and learn more in the process,” Henry added. “These artists don’t have to do our line of art; any type of art they engage in can be displayed. And we hope to have the resources available where these young people can research and broaden their knowledge and talent.”