Pencil Artist of the Week: Charmaine Ortiz

This week’s featured artist is graphite expert and pencil artist Charmaine Ortiz. Charmaine is based in Carolina Beach, North Carolina, where she creates works that push the graphite medium to its breaking point (no pun intended). The following is the work statement Charmaine provides on her website:

I work with graphite and challenge its capabilities through varied fields and applications, including object making. By working on paper I maintain the historical apparatus specific to drawing while setting up new contrasts and formal problems. These challenges are intended to expand the drawing material by placing it into relevant dialogues shared with contemporary abstract painting. In order to expand this traditional drawing medium I make my own graphite pencils from raw materials.

Charmaine Ortiz

In my processes I also mine the history of graphite to remove, preserve, and represent vital information such as graphite’s geographical discovery and its historical past, present and future uses (real and fabricated). This data dictates the specific material choices and the compositional arrangements I utilize. Through process and material interactions between objects and structures I celebrate graphite’s materiality, its history, and its personal nature.

Charmaine Ortiz

As you can see, Charmaine is passionate about her graphite; a passion that was born from a youth spent watching her father:

“Graphite pencils and paper are personal materials that I grew up with and also watched my Dad use in his commercial drawing practice. My drawings use graphite pencils produced in factories but I also incorporate graphite pencils that I hand make. The pencils I hand make are used to create two-dimensional drawings and three-dimensional objects. Overall my work explores intersections between history, process, materiality, and contemporary art (minimalism and contemporary abstract painting).

Conceptually I’m interested in deconstructing and rearranging the historical notions of what a drawing has been traditionally thought to be: graphite on paper (art object). I am also interested in expanding upon the drawing process through participatory projects which explore drawing (both object and process) as a collaborative practice of compiling marks by multiple artists/users.”

Though Charmaine is a fan of graphite pencils of all shapes and sizes, she does have a favorite, and she even creates her own graphite pencils for use in her works (for more on this, stay tuned for an in depth interview with Charmaine later this month).

Charmaine Ortiz

“The graphite pencil is my primary material; however its method of getting onto paper (directly and indirectly) is manipulated in a variety of ways.

In my practice I use the materials paper, wood, and graphite in various forms and formats. I incorporate graphite pencils that I hand make as well as graphite pencils produced in factories (General Pencil Co.’s Kimberly line is my favorite).  Through this blend of the handmade with factory produced pencils I am able to achieve a variety of marks and tones using varied applications (dry, wet, airbrushed, and screen printed graphite).

I enjoy the contrasts of the handmade with factory finish so I use other supplementary drawing tools, including hand cut erasing shields and screen printing processes.  The screen printed lines I use are derived from line drawings that I create on my computer (combining digitally mediated lines with hand drawn lines) which are enlarged and screen printed onto paper with graphite.”

If you would like to see more of Charmaine’s work, you can check out her website here.

What do you think pencileers? Do you know someone who should be featured as our Pencil Artist of the Week? Sound off in the comments!

2 replies
    • Alexander Poirier
      Alexander Poirier says:

      Well she definitely deserves the publicity! We should have an interview with her posted in the next few days, so stay tuned 😉


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