Pencil art is where many artists start their artistic journey but for Bryan Austerberry, it’s where he not only specializes but excels, as can be clearly seen in his Upper Gallery show The Resurgence of Pencil Art at the Station House this month.
Austerberry is a charming gentleman with a laugh-lined face and a wry sense of humour. He’s been drawing with pencils ever since he was a youngster, which he claims was more than a year or two ago. As a teenager, he went to a specialized art high school in Ontario where he had the good fortune to impress a company that offered him a job in advertising straight after graduating.
Before the advent of computers, Austerberry explained, all advertising from the front ads on a newspaper to the designs printed on bags was all hand-drawn by graphic design artists like him. It was in the advertising industry he went on to work in for many years, including when he moved to Chilliwack in 1972. Austerberry has continued to draw, both professionally and personally, throughout his life only taking on other jobs when he needed money.
“Starving artist: it’s not a joke it’s the truth,” Austerberry quipped.
Ever since retiring and settling in 100 Mile House, Austerberry said he’s been able to fully devote himself to his passion, pencil art, while enjoying the Cariboo lifestyle that he loves.
Pencil art, to him, is deeply rooted in who he is, recalling first taking up the pencil at the age of six. Austerberry said that he likes how he can feel what he is creating when working with the medium as well as the amount of detail he can put into each piece.
Inspiration for his works come from a wide range of sources from both his own head and occasionally the Internet or other pieces of media.
“Sometimes when I’m doing a drawing, another one comes into my head and I really can’t wait to finish this one because I want to get to that one in my head,” Austerberry said. “Other times I finish and I have writer’s block and it’s like two week or three weeks I have no idea what I want to draw.”
One of Austerberry’s greatest artistic influences growing up that continues to influence his art to this day was the works of Norman Rockwell. Austerberry was unaware of this intellectually, however, up until about a year ago when a lady came up to him at one of his shows while he was drawing and pointed it out.
The overall theme of his exhibit at the Station House, however, remains the same as it does at all of his other art shows. With his work Austerberry hopes to encourage people to pick up a pencil and create pencil artwork of their own.
“Honest to gosh, we all did it when we were young. It doesn’t matter (who comes) here, how old they are I guarantee (they drew) when they were young and somewhere along the line they put down the pencil. All I’m hoping for is for people to maybe pick it up again,” Austerberry said.
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In this vein of thought, Austerberry also teaches art classes for people aged “nine to 109” where he always loves hearing students can only draw a stick person. That, to him, is a good start to where he can start showing them how to draw a better stick man and working up from there.
He hopes that when lakecity locals look upon his art they’re inspired to take up the pencil themselves and join the worldwide community of pencil artists, many of which Austerberry said are even better than him. Anyone can do it, Austerberry reiterated, it’s just a matter of saying “I can rather then I can’t.”