January 17, 2013

Rule of the pencil

Saranac Lake artist takes top prize at juried art show


---- — LAKE PLACID — When everyone was digging digital photography, Matthew Paul went old-school with charcoal and graphite.

“I really haven’t gone far away from that,” said Paul, who lives in Saranac Lake.

“This was five or six years ago before we had a studio. I put a few drawings in shows, and they started winning awards. I just kept at it. It was something I have always been able to do with confidence … I had to go back to rediscover it.”

Paul won Best in Show for his graphite drawing “Incogneato #1 (The Lady)” at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts’ “Black and White Juried Art Show: A Showcase of Regional Artists.”

The opening reception was held Friday, and the show runs through Feb. 17.

Sam Hendren, juror, chose the exhibition content and winners, who included Burdette Parks (first place) for “Framing for Birches,” Valerie Patterson (second place) for “Enjoying Life-Area 51 XOXO,” Shawn L. Halperin (third place) for “The Drifter” and Jeanne Danforth (fourth place) for “The Landscape as a Fallen Leaf.”

Originally from central New York, Paul earned a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from Alfred University, where his concentrations were in photography and design.

Since his 1988 graduation, he’s made his livelihood through design. He straddles the digital revolution with his knowledge of lead type and computers.

“When I came out of school, people converted. I bopped around a lot,” he said.

Newspapers went from wax to Macs, and Paul plied his trade in the New York City area, at the Adirondack Daily Enterprise, Middlebury College and three separate times at Adirondack Life magazine, where he is production coordinator.

He and his wife, artist Maria DeAngelo, executed their creative pursuits whenever they could at the dining-room table.

When Susan Olsen purchased 52 Main St. in Saranac Lake, she offered office spaces as artist studios. Paul and DeAngelo, who creates large abstracts, were on board.

His award-winning drawing is the result of a studio encounter with a friend.

“During winter carnival last year or the year before, she dressed up in big medieval costume,” Paul said. “I made her pose for me and took photographs. I said, ‘OK, I will draw it.’ It was so much fun to do.”

He collected an array of costumes and cajoled visitors to play dress up while he photographed them. He’s created eight works in the series using graphite.

“I have a range of artist pencils that make darker and lighter marks, so I can control the tone of the pieces. The graphite work is more patience than time consuming.”

Generally, Paul spends an hour on each square-inch of a drawing.

“That’s how you get the nice even tone. There is no blending. I didn’t rub the paper. It’s all controlled graphite marks on the paper and put together,” he said.

Paul is honored to receive the recognition in a field of peers, some of whom are full-time artists.

“Since I was young, I always drew,” he said. “I never wanted to give it up.”

The show’s Honorable Mentions were awarded for “Flow” by Nancy Brossard, “Hubris Greed” by George Dirolf, “The Day I Met Myself” by Annoel Krider, “Stony Creek Study” by Suzanne Lebeda, “Tension” by Barry Lobdell, “Waiting” by Larry Poole and “Quiet” by Linda Sweeney.

Email Robin Caudell:

IF YOU GO WHAT: "Black and White Juried Art Show: A Showcase of Regional Artists." WHEN: Through Feb. 17. WHERE: Lake Placid Center for the Arts, 17 Algonquin Drive, Lake Placid. HOURS: 1 to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and 1 to 9 p.m. Friday. PHONE: 523-2512.