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The Pastel Journal

The Pastel Journal July/August 2019

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Pastel Journal covers topics of interest to working pastelists as well as those who work in pastel as an additional medium along with those who are just experimenting with the medium.

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6 Numeri

in questo numero

1 minuti
putting power in the painting

When I think about my earliest interactions with art, my thoughts travel immediately back to the captivating illustrations that grabbed my imagination in my favorite picture books. I recall, in particular, Ezra Jack Keats’ fantastic illustrations for the book, John Henry: An American Legend, a folktale that pits our hero and his hammer in a race against a steam-powered machine. Keats’ captivating paint-and-collage creations aren’t merely descriptive; they evoke moods and emotions that move readers beyond the page and the storytelling. These powerful images burned onto my 6-year-old brain and have stayed with me all these years. “Where the spirit does not work with the hand, there is no art.”—LEONARDO DA VINCI The celebrated landscape artist Skip Whitcomb talked to contributing writer and artist Aaron Schuerr about the power of art in…

2 minuti
choosing pastel in pakistan

In countries where pastel is still seen purely as a drawing medium, established societies can go a long way in legitimizing it as a valid choice in fine art. This was the thinking behind Naveed Khan and Sonia Rauf’s decision to found the Pastel Society of Pakistan (PSP) in 2008, as students (now spouses). Although it took nearly eight years to find a group of four other pastelists to join, the society staged its first exhibition in 2015. The PSP joined the International Association of Pastel Societies in 2017 and obtained official membership in June 2018. “Unfortunately, pastel is considered a drawing medium here, restricted to institutional practices,” says Khan, “nor is it widely used as a major fine art medium in Pakistan. Artists and art students generally use the medium…

2 minuti
to look ... perchance to see

SEE THE BIG PICTURE. Begin with simplified areas blocked in to establish a sense of the whole before picking at the details. Getting the “bones” right increases the chances that refinements will also be right. There’s time to sweat the small stuff later, especially with pastels. SEE LIKE A BABY. Turn off the naming and the identification of things. A baby operates without direct experience or context, so visual stimulation is simply perceived as colors, shapes, light and movement. Let your own eyes direct you like this. There’s value in this condition of “not knowing.” TAKE A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE. Look at your work in various ways: upside-down, from far away, propped on the mantel, in different lighting, etc. Place the piece where you’ll come upon it unexpectedly. This sudden view can bring surprising clarity. SEE WHAT…

5 minuti
not such a shrinking violet

Is that violet—or is it purple? I know I was confused about this nomenclature when I first started painting. Many artists treat the terms “violet” and “purple” interchangably, but there actually is a difference between the two. Violet is a spectral color, meaning that it can be found in the visible electromagnetic spectrum. It sits between blue and ultraviolet, occuping the area between 380 and 420 nanometers. Purple, however, can’t be found in the spectrum, which means you’ll never see it in a rainbow. Instead, it’s a composite color made from the primary colors blue and red. You’ll find it on your color wheel between those two colors. Still, for the purposes of this column, let’s consider violet and purple to be the same, since they act so much alike—and I’ll use…

1 minuti
quick tips

These Blue Earth violets on Wallis Belgian mist paper begin with either a warm (red shade) or a cool (blue shade) violet. The pigment is lightened with titanium dioxide; to gray, a yellow pigment is added. From top to bottom: blue shade (grayed); blue shade (unmodified pigment); red shade (grayed); and red shade (unmodified pigment). Violet is effective for modifying yellows and oranges. In the illustration at left, I’ve taken two values of cadmium lemon yellow—an intense, light version, plus a darker, almost-green version—and have used them to modify two different values of violet. The top row depicts how a dark cadmium lemon yellow can be modified; the bottom, a light cadmium yellow. The dark violet is on the left, and the tint, on the right. In the illustration on the right,…

3 minuti
“the human side is what touches me most”

Among the painters of the Barbizon school—a group of 19th-century artists who settled and worked in the Forest of Fountainbleau outside Paris—none was more dedicated to the subject of peasant life than Jean-François Millet (French, 1814–1875). Like his friends Corot, Rousseau and Daubigny, Millet was a first-rate landscape painter, but he was unique. Other artists moved to the village of Barbizon as an alternative to city life, but for Millet, the French countryside was home. He was born and raised on a farm and identified with those who worked the land. Millet’s famous paintings—The Gleaners, The Sower, The Angelus— appear to our eyes to be sentimental idealizations. Yet in their time they were landmarks of realism. As described by Millet’s biographer, Alexandra R. Murphy, the cultural stratification of mid-19th century France…