By Bonnie Gangelhoff
What inspired your winning entry? I had been doing a series on fruit, experimenting with backlighting. I like seeing what light can do for objects. And I love transparent objects. I had been doing mostly grapes and oranges; the banana was an afterthought. I was eating breakfast one morning, and on the spur of the moment, I wondered what a banana would look like as a subject. I put a banana on a white, shiny tray and set the tray on my porch railing. It was about 10 in the morning, so the light was low in the sky. To my surprise, the peel was transparent. I loved it. I spent a lot of time arranging the slices where I wanted them, and then I took photos. I work from photographs because fruit is very fragile, and colored pencil takes a long time.
Why do you like working in colored pencil? I also work in oil, but the first time I tried colored pencil, I liked it. I am a graphic designer by profession and have a technical background. You can be very precise with colored pencil, so it is suited to someone who likes realism. And you can get brilliant color. I was hooked once I realized that. I like the convenience, too, because you don’t have to clean brushes. And I love to draw, which fits in with colored pencil.
Where did you study art? I have a bachelor’s degree in fine art and a master’s degree in graphic design from Ohio State University.
What is your favorite subject matter, and why? Still life. I have been going through a fruit period, and I’m not sure if it will ever end. I love setting the whole thing up, looking at an object, and seeing how I can take that object and turn it into something else. I like turning a simple thing into a work of art. I love the control in still life—I’m a control freak.
What is the most meaningful recognition you have received for your artwork? Winning this award is up there! I’d also say when I received signature member status with the Colored Pencil Society of America. And when I authored the book Painting Light with Colored Pencil, which was published by North Light Books in 2005.
What is the one thing people will probably never see you paint? Never say never. Who knows what I will be interested in when I move out of my fruit period?
Future goals? To keep growing as an artist. I’ve never felt as if I had a large enough portfolio for a gallery, so I’m working on that right now.
Featured in our annual “21 Over 31” competition in November 2010