Gypsy eyes, a painting by Justin Maas which he submitted to the Federation of Canadian Artists in seeking a senior signature member designation with the prestigious organization. (Contributed)

Portrait artist receives prestigious designation from Federation of Canadian Artists

Justin Maas, renowned for his pastel portraits, is now a senior signature member of the federation

Justin Maas has added several more letters to the end of his name.

The Salmon Arm graphic artist has been named a senior signature member (SFCA) of the Federation of Canadian Artists, the largest and generally considered most prestigious art association in Canada.

The talented artist joins the rank with such other notable artists as Robert Bateman, David Goatley, Mike Svob, Dene Croft, Andrew McDermott, Dianna Ponting and Alan Wylie.

Senior signature members from the past include Emily Carr, A.Y. Jackson, Robert Genn and Group of Seven member Lawren Harris, who founded the federation in 1941.

Maas is the only member of the federation’s Thompson Nicola Shuswap chapter to have the designation and one of only 90 from across Canada.

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He was chosen for the honour by a selection committee of the federation’s board of governors after completing a series of requirements.

Maas first had to be juried in as an active member of the Canadian Federation of Artists and with the approval of three jurors, was then able to participate in juried shows.

“Once you have been in seven shows over four years, you’re then able to apply to become an associate member,” explained Maas.

“But my understanding is that I am now the only SFCA in this area.”

Excited by the distinguished accomplishment, Maas was required to send three physical paintings and seven digital artworks to the selection committee at the federation’s Vancouver headquarters.

All were pastel portraits and almost every subject is from Salmon Arm, including Tovah Shantz, of the Shuswap Pie Company, a self-portrait and one of each of his daughters.

Not sure what the new designation means, the humble Maas says it will be helpful when he applies to galleries for shows and will hopefully lead to other opportunities.

He points out portrait artists have challenges in marketing their work as most of it is commissioned.

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“It has taken a long time to get my name out, but the last couple of years have been very good,” he said.

“Social media helps a lot and is now opening my work up to clients all over the world.”

The gifted graphic designer’s new book, Drawing Realistic Pencil Portraits Step by Step: Basic Techniques for the Head and Face, is available to pre-order at many online sites and will be available in local bookstores this July.

This is shaping up to be a banner year for Maas, who will be featured this spring in The Artist Magazine, one of the biggest art magazines on the market.

Home from Vancouver after a weekend event where he received his senior signature status “in recognition of extraordinary achievement in the field of visual fine arts,” Maas will continue to do what he loves with new anticipation.

“I’ve always drawn; every kid draws, I just kept on,” he said, noting he went to the Art Institute of Chicago right from high school and followed that up by earning a degree from the Alberta College of Art and Design.


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