Changing from paint brush to a pencil has paid off for a Stratford artist.

Out of 482 entries, Jo Stallard is one of 76 shortlisted for the 2020 Parkin Drawing prize.

Her piece Lament for the trees took eight hours to complete.

"The drawing is 30cm by 30cm which means it is a smaller piece which can get done quickly."

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The 2020 Parkin Drawing Prize was launched by philanthropist and arts patron Chris Parkin eight years ago.

The winner is awarded a top prize of $25,000, and 10 other artists will be awarded a highly commended prize of $500.

This is the first time Jo, who co-owns Fenton Street Art Collective with Stuart Greenhill, has entered the competition.

Jo says while she normally doesn't enter competitions, this is something she's looking to do more of.

"I now have the time and a studio dedicated to pursue my art. I've worked hard to get where I am so now I'll take the time and get serious about my art."

Jo worked on the piece during the alert level 4 Covid-19 lockdown.

"I wanted to take a break from painting and go back to the basics so I decided to do some pencil drawing.

"My preference is oil painting but I really loved working on the Lament for the trees piece as life drawing is great grounding work. It fits well with what I do as I'm working in values rather than the tone of colour."

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For the piece, Jo used different grades of pencil and an eraser to create shadows and highlights.

"The contrast between the dark and light gives it a three dimensional look. I like the concept behind, it worked and came together quite well."

The inspiration for the piece came from an exhibition Jo is planning to hold at the Fenton Street Art Collective in October.

"This will be a joint exhibition with works from myself and Cherie Dodds called Partial Bodies. I worked on this piece with the exhibition in the back of my mind."

She says dance photographer Lois Greenfield was a big inspiration for the piece.

"She takes photos of dynamic figures. They're really beautiful."

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Jo says she enjoyed working on the piece.

"The concept for the drawing is as people, we want something that is already lost but we only realise it is lost after we figure out we had it to start with."

The tree is a metaphor for a simpler way of life - something we are always looking for but we've lost, Jo says.

"We've become very busy and we're caught up in the race of life and we never have time to slow down and enjoy the simpler things. In the drawing, there is primitive man and a token of a tree, symbolising we reflect on a simpler time which we've lost but want to get back."

She says she is excited to be on the shortlist.

"As an artist, you want some vindication of what you're doing and a bit of acknowledgement to encourage you to keep going. It's a very nice feeling."

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The shortlisted works will be showcased at the Parkin Drawing Prize exhibition at the NZ Academy of Fine Arts from August 4 to 30.

The winning submission will be selected and announced by Charlotte Davy, head of art at Te Papa Tongarewa at the gala announcement of the Parkin Drawing Prize exhibition on Monday, August 3.