Contemplation by Sharon Kow

Mention colour pencils and the first thoughts on people’s minds are colouring books and kids.

But if anyone knows how to take this “child’s play”on to a whole new level, it’s definitely Sharon Kow.

One glance, or even several looks at her pieces and you would never guess that they were created using none other than good ol’ colour pencils!

This mother and homemaker has a knack for re-creating extremely life-like portraits and detailed portraits, with the humblest of tools.

Remarkably, she only started delving into art some four years back, after seeing her daughter through high school.

Well, what started out as a hobby in 2013, turned out to be a full time career for me now, a colour pencil artist, and I am taking this very seriously. At 46 years of age, I don’t see myself slowing down, in fact, I am making the most of whatever time I have.

“In 2013, when my daughter was in her final year of high school, I decided to do something with my life, post motherhood. I started having very serious thought and realised that I want to achieve more in life instead of just doing something to pass time.”

“A Mother’s Prayer” by Sharon Kow

“Then, the thought of doing art hit me. I knew I have a flare with it, why not do it. And if I do, I will go all out, no holding back, I will give my all. I want to build a career out of it, not as a hobby.”

While most professional artists tend to associate themselves with acrylics and oil painting or charcoal, Sharon decided colour pencils were good enough for her.

“Head or Tail?” by Sharon Kow

When she chose this medium, she did some internet research and was blown away by the many talented colour pencil artists in the international circuit.

She hoped to get some guidance from local counterparts but found few who shared the same appreciation and preference for colour pencils.

Instead of being glum over this stumbling block, Sharon decided to forge ahead and make the best of her situation.

“Pluralism” by Sharon Kow

The result; Sharon is now the only artist in the country with a signature status in the Colored Pencil Society of America and also recognised as a professional member of The International Guild of Realism, USA.

Sharon also prefers the Faber-Castell brand, which upon discovery by the oldest manufacturer of art supplies they decided to sponsor her to participate at art exhibitions. She was also one of the 12 artists featured in Faber-Castell Malaysia’s Inaugural Art Exhibition “Amplify” in April 2016.

“Through that event, the doors and opportunities were kicked open to several undiscovered pencil artists and from then on, I am seeing an even greater interest from the public towards this medium,” says Sharon.

She was also part of The Langkawi Art Biennale 2016 and is currently planning a solo exhibition in three countries.

Sharon Kow is making a mark internationally through colour pencils.

Her forte lies in realism and contemporary realism. Sharon typically plans ahead before creating her artworks.

“For instance, when I have decided on a certain subject – be it still life or a portrait – I have to think of the set up and the mood. I study the composition, values, nuances and thereafter, capture all this with a camera in various angles.

“Once I’ve photographed and downloaded them all on my computer, I do the selections and proceed with some adjustment using the Photoshop App.”

The smaller pieces of artwork, 30 x 42 cm, typically takes her about 14 to 20 days. The biggest piece that she had done – 76 x 101 cm – took her approximately two-and-a-half months to complete.

Sharon’s art-station.

Her inspiration comes from simple and everyday subjects and objects.

“These common subjects reflect my perception of the many human emotions and therefore every piece of my art reveals a deeper meaning than just a beautiful subject.”

She says she uses Faber-Castell Polychromos pencils to achieve the “painting like” effect.

“There is a huge difference between mass produced and professional grade colour pencils. The latter pays utmost importance on its quality and light-fastness,” Sharon reveals.

Faber-Castell Malaysia has been extremely supportive of Sharon’s art.

Light-fastness is basically the permanence of a pigment which is resistance to change when exposed to light.

The legendary Faber-Castell Polychromos colour pencils were created in 1908 and are household name among serious colour pencil artists. Created using quality materials – wood from sustainably managed forests, the Faber-Castell Polychromos have extremely break-resistant leads and are popular for their vivid colours, optimal paintability, non-smudge and waterproof quality.

The range of these professional grade pencils start from RM420.00 to RM800.00 for sets of 60 to 120 pencils.

“Those prices itself set them apart from the mass produced colour pencils,” Sharon says, adding that it is an asset for a serious colour pencil artist.

Despite all the amazing artworks that she has created, Sharon says she is still learning and hopes to continue improving. Under proper guidance, anyone can create beautiful artworks as long as an individual puts his or her mind to it.

“But to create art with substance, deep in meaning, it has to come from the individual itself. And this, no one can teach you how to.

“These kind of artwork have to come from deep within. For instance, the sense of happiness, anger, sadness, fear, regrets. To be able to capture and express THAT is what make an art piece unique on its own.” Sharon reveals.

To view more of Sharon’s work, check out her Facebook pageher Instagram, Twitter, and website. Here’s more info on Faber-Castell Polychromos colour pencils. Are you an artists and would love to feature your work? Drop us an email at editors@eksentrika.com