Over the last weekend, Allan and I have been attending demonstrations by nationally known pastel artists to acquire tips and techniques to further our skills and creative inspiration when painting in pastel. This conference is held every two years in Albuquerque and is attended by pastel artists from around the world. On my first day I watched a demo by Margaret Evans who is from Scotland and her painting of roses was very loose and impressionistic. Her initial sketch was only of the peripheral contours on the roses and then she made some marks with the lightest light to indicate where the highlights would be and immediately began working in some of the colors of the various roses keeping them all in different tones but in the same midvalues. Her darkest darks were in the foliage between the roses and behind the vase.
After lunch I headed into a hands on demo with Kim Lordier and I was very nervous about producing something adequate as her paintings are so fabulous, very early California Impressionist. But as it turned out, she is a very friendly person and put everyone at their ease and we all had a good time following her lead, step by step. In the photo to the right is Kim with her plein air palette and the small painting we are working on. Her focus was getting us to create an atmospheric perspective by changing the color of the trees as they receded into the distance and lightening the distance. Yellow is the first color to be lost into the distance, then red, with blue remaining.
Allan in the meantime was in the main theatre to see demonstrations by Albert Handel in the morning and Elizabeth Mowry in the afternoon. Albert, wearing his red suspenders and greek fisherman's cap.. began his talk by fondly remembering his time as a young artist at Woodstock observing trees. "They do twist and turn as they grow, you know". He spent a great deal of time drawing each individual trunk and branch and carefully observed how the cast shadows fell under and away from the joint of each branch coming off the trunk. The background colors he paints across the picture behind many forms and he says this creates a sense of rhythm. In applying the background colors, he treats it as a negative space and after applying each color, swipes and smudges the color with a kleenex to soften all edges in the background. One of his finishing touches lightly glazes one side of the forest with a violet color for atmospheric light.
Elizabeth Mowry is known for her ethereal misty backgrounds in her paintings. She accomplishes this very simply. She begins with masses of violet in different shades in the background, using a one inch foam brush with water, she washes over the pastel application. Next she spends a great deal of time with a carbo othello pencil moving the mist about and knocking off some of the pastel. And finally, she does something she calls dribbling, which resembles a feather-light glazing pulled downward. (To Be Continued)