Watching other people turn into artists has been one of Jerry Winick’s greatest satisfactions.
The Woodland Park artist, and co-owner of Pencilworks Studio, has been teaching students how to draw for the past 30 years. He and his business partner- who happens to be his wife of 36 years, Karen Winick, began their business out of their home in 1988.
In 2000, 18 years ago, they opened their studio at 96 Main Street, Little Falls.
Jerry Winick, 75, figures he has “had hundreds and thousands of students” over the years who have learned how to draw from his techniques.
“I love watching people become successful,” says Winick about teaching others the art of pencil drawing. “Passing this onto people, watching them learn.” Some say, “‘I can’t draw, I can’t do it;’ that’s my greatest joy; watching them learn. The teaching, that’s the most satisfying; such satisfaction is teaching them to do it.”
No one taught Winick how to draw, he mastered that himself when he was little boy.
Describes Winick: “I used to draw pictures; used to draw pictures of my relatives and friends and it actually looked like them. I figured it out on my own when I was growing up.”
When he became an adult, he says, “I worked many jobs,” as it was difficult to earn a living as an artist. Before becoming a professional artist he worked in the garment industry for 17 years as a presser of dresses. He also worked at the “Record” for eight years in subscription sales, “until we settled into this 30 years ago. This has always been my passion,” says Winick.
He attended William Paterson University and got his bachelor’s in education in 1982.
From there he became a teacher, teaching pencil drawing.
“I teach here,” he says, at his Pencilworks Studio, teaching three pencil drawing classes a week.
Winick has also been teaching pencil drawing classes at Emerson Adult School for the past 27 years; had taught at the former Wayne Adult School for 25 years; teaches at the Boys and Girls Club in Wayne, where his wife also teaches children art classes.
In fact, Winick says he taught his wife how to be an artist. “Hers [talent] came later on through me,” says Winick. “She kind of learned through osmosis,” he laughs.
Karen Winick, 65, does have a teaching background as well, teaching at Montessori schools as well as an enrichment program at some public schools, he says.
When he is not teaching, Winick is creating.
During a span of six decades he says he has drawn “probably thousands” of works of art. “Sixty something years, it’s a lot of drawings.”
“He is an artist who uses a pencil as a painter uses a paintbrush,” as described on his website.
“I like realism,” Winick explains why he sticks with just pencil. “I like pictures, photo realism. It’s something I got really good at. People like drawing pictures that look real.”
With just a soft pencil, a 4B pencil to be exact, and Bristol paper, Winick’s creations come to life.
According to his website, “He spends many hours at the drawing board creating each of his pieces. It is not unusual for Jerry to spend three months on a single drawing, constantly building and developing it to its conclusion. Jerry’s style of photorealism is so unique that most people, when viewing his work for the first time, find it difficult to imagine that these drawings are done with only a pencil. The sharp point that Jerry uses is ideally suited for the exacting detail he desires in his drawings.”
Winick says his works involve “all kinds of drawings. I particularly like sports drawings but I like everything,” like drawing animals. But no matter the drawing, he says, “everything is black and white. I live in a black and white world.”
He says, “I’m always drawing something, doing a golf picture right now. I set a goal, 10 drawings a year. I’m always gonna keep on drawing.” On average, Winick spends 50 hours at the drawing board for one piece of work, completing about one a month, he says.
Winick says his drawings can currently be found at three different local museums: Yogi Berra Museum in Little Falls; Belskie Museum in Closter; and Hamilton House Museum in Clifton.
He used to do 30 arts shows a year on Sundays or weekends but with working seven days a week this became too much. In today’s world, his work can be purchased online and through his website.
The Winick collection is offered as original drawings as well as signed and numbered limited edition lithographs and giclees which are photograph reproductions. Prices range from $5,000 for original works to $200 to $250 for prints, he says.
At Pencilworks Studio, Winick sells his drawings but the main focus of his studio is to teach others.
“We have lots of art classes here,” says Winick, who teaches three pencil drawing classes there each week to teenagers on up, to those “well into their 90’s” on Tuesday afternoon’s senior citizens’ class.
Karen Winick teaches the children’s painting classes, ages 5 to 13, five times each week, focusing on all different types of media and painting, he says.
Classes begin at the onset of the school year and they also offer summer classes.
Rather than putting something up on the board for his students to learn, Winick’s style of teaching allows the students to “draw what they want to do. When everybody is doing a drawing, investing in what you want to do, you get better at it,” he explains.
“This is the best place to come,” says Winick, for art classes. “They really learn. People learn from the experience by doing it yourself. People can’t tell you how to ride a bike; you have to go on and do it yourself. I work with them individually.”
In addition to art classes, they sell custom framing at competitive prices and host birthday parties for children and adults, BYOB Paint Nights and corporate team building events.
While most other BYOB paint nights are usually led by an instructor who teaches the class how to paint one painting, at Pencilworks 18 people will paint 18 different paintings, he says.
“We give them 40 different choices and they choose,” he says. “We provide canvas, materials, instructions.
The birthday parties are usually centered around a theme whether the child likes unicorns, on the water scenes, animals, mermaids or even characters from “Frozen.”
At Pencilworks, customers can get special pricing on picture frames.
“Frame prices are probably lower than any other place around,” says Winick. “Framing for artists, we’ve kept them well below” then competitors’ pricing,” he says realizing that an artist’s salary “is very low.”
When it comes to competition, Winick’s response is “not really; almost no one does what we do. We do it all in one place.”
He says, “we love our location in central Little Falls. It’s nice that Little Falls has a center in town. Woodland Park is built on a mountain,” he explains.
When the store front location opened up just 10 minutes from their house, Winick says, they grabbed it. With their business in Little Falls, he says “We spend most of our time in Little Falls. We’re going to turn Little Falls into a town that it should be,” through the business association and local politicians.
Karen Winick has served as the president of Business Association in town for the past eight years.
As far as retirement, Winick cannot even picture that day.
“I’m just happy to be working at this age,” he says. “We are complete partners in this thing,” he says about working with his wife. “Two of us are 100 percent partners,” in work and life with their four children and 10 grandchildren.
“I’m hoping to work until it’s all over,” he says. “We love our business.”
Pencilworks Studio is located at 96 Main St., Little Falls. Call 973-812-4448 for more information; email email@example.com; visit http://www.pencilworksartstudio.com.