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The Pastel Journal

The Pastel Journal May/June 2020

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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

2 minuti
paint for joy

As we prepare to send this issue to the printer, we’ve only just begun to deal with the Covid-19 outbreak in the U.S. It’s hard to imagine, but when we planned and prepared these articles, the novel coronavirus wasn’t anywhere on our minds. Writing now, in the final week of March, we have no way of knowing what the situation will be when this issue is delivered, but we hope—whatever the cirucmstances—that the joy of art can provide a welcome respite. Struggling with uncertainty isn’t unique to the year 2020, of course, and it’s encouraging to remember that people have pushed through hard times in the past and that this resilience continues. The quote referenced here, by German-American artist and teacher Hans Hofmann (1880–1966), to a “pessimistic attitude” was made more…

1 minuti
pastel party

Conceived as a single unified environment, the two-floor exhibition, “Nicholas Party: Pastel,” was on view in New York City at The FLAG Art Foundation, October 10, 2019 through February 15, 2020. The show centered on soft pastel, which experienced a brief golden age in 18th-century Europe, and included work by pastel artists from across the centuries, including Rosalba Carriera, Edgar Degas, Mary Cassatt, Jean-Baptiste Perronneau and others. Venetian-born artist Carriera (1675–1757), described by Party as the centerpiece and impetus of his presentation at FLAG, is credited with not only having popularized small-scale pastel portraiture, but also for revolutionizing the physical medium by binding powders into uniform sticks. Noted for their radiant palettes, lustrous tones and gauzy atmospheric qualities, Carriera’s commissioned portraits of Venetian nobility, grand tourists and European aristocracy made her…

3 minuti
a traditional theme, an untraditional artist

Mary Stevenson Cassatt (American, 1844–1926) was born into a well-to-do family on the north side of Pittsburgh. The Cassatts moved to Philadelphia when Mary was a child, and at the age of 15, she began studying art at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. As a young woman of that era, she was denied the opportunity to work from live models and found the instruction diffi dent. Cassatt went to Paris in 1866, where she encountered a similarly inhospitable atmosphere, but she was able to study privately with prominent instructors and copied at the Louvre. In 1870, she returned to Pennsylvania and was dismayed by the lack of public interest in her work. The following year she wrote, “I have given up my studio and torn up my father’s portrait,…

3 minuti
the cross-training edge

Cut Loose, Have Fun You may find a new medium frustrating at first, when it doesn’t handle in the same way as your primary medium. With practice, however, you’ll begin to have fun with it and will enjoy exploring new approaches—some of which you might be able to apply to your first medium. One of my students, who’s primarily an oil painter but also paints in watercolor, has started adding watercolor over his oil paintings, once dry, and to great effect. I don’t know how archival his method is, but I know he’s having fun. HELLO, VERSATILTY Athletes cross-train because it helps prevent injury, shortens recovery time and increases overall fitness. As a painter, I also cross-train, working equally in pastel and oil and, lately, in gouache. I find that working this way…

4 minuti
adding structure to the landscape

One of the most impactful ways I’ve found to add interest and further the narrative in a landscape painting is to place a man-made structure into the scene—a barn, boat, shack, house or car, for example. These objects offer a strong contrast to the natural world and anchor the organic contours of the landscape. They also help to establish a sense of time and place. Here’s the process I follow when painting a landscape that features a man-made object. Selecting a Reference Photo When choosing a reference photo from which to work, I look for: • something that inspires, excites and compels me to paint it. • a strong composition. • a strong foreground, middle ground and background. • a visual lead-in to lure the viewer’s eye to travel to the focal area and then throughout the…

1 minuti
under construction

Consider these six tips to construct better buildings in your paintings. • Look for interesting shapes within shapes. For example, I’ll play up a dynamic shadow shape on a rectangular roof. Shadows of foliage against the side of a house, overlapping trees, farm equipment and people also work to break up a structure’s square and rectangular forms. • Find various viewpoints and angles of the structure. Cropping in at various angles also adds interest. • Adjust the angles. Photos often create sharper angles in a building. A roof line, for example, may appear as though it’s at a 45-degree angle in the photo when, in reality, it’s at a 35-degree angle. I change this slightly in my paintings, although sometimes I like to play up more severe angles for effect. • Know why you’re…