Artist of the Month: Marion W. Hylton: Moving Easily Among Media

American Artist of the Month0812aom4_600x451Gainesville, Florida, artist Marion W. Hylton is adept at oil, masterful in watercolor, and award-winning in pastel.


High Water
2006, pastel, 19 x 26.
Collection the artist.
Best in Show at the St. Augustine Art
Association's Honors Show.

By Bob Bahr

Gainesville, Florida, artist Marion W. Hylton is adept at oil, masterful in watercolor, and award-winning in pastel. "I choose my subject first and then I settle on my media," she explains. The skillful painter works out of a corner of her bedroom, so the solvents associated with oil paints make that medium her least favorite. "It smells up the house," she points out. She describes watercolor as her "first love," but pastel's portability, easy cleanup, and overall simplicity has great appeal for her. "More and more, I am choosing pastel," says Hylton. "I wear a surgical glove on my right hand, and that's the hand I use for making all my marks and doing all my blending. And I keep my pastel sticks very organized—each in a specific place—so I don't have to dig around to find the one I want."

Hylton notes that pastel seems to be gaining in popularity, and she regularly wins awards in the medium. "I participated in the Arts in the Parks competition seven times, winning the grand prize in 2006 and twice winning a purchase award," she recalls. "And I won two awards this past year from the Pastel Society of America; it was the first year I entered that competition. Pastel seems to really be taking off." The artist starts a pastel painting with the harder, chalkier NuPastel sticks, then moves on to softer Rembrandts, then to still-softer Senneliers, and finally very soft Unisons for finishing touches. She favors Strathmore, Canson, and Kitty Wallis pastel papers.


Evinston Church
2007, watercolor, 18 x 15.
Collection Peter Hollister.

In watercolor, Hylton is loyal to Arches 140-lb cold-pressed paper, which she stretches before use. "I get slightly more brilliant color with that paper," she asserts. "Other papers seem to soak up paint like a blotter. Arches puts just enough sizing in it for me." She generally uses Winsor & Newton watercolor paints, plus "a few Maimeri blues and some excellent colors from Cheap Joe's." The artist works both from life and from her own photographs, which she will combine to form the composition she has in mind. A Hylton watercolor painting generally begins with a 3"-x-5" value sketch, which she says is doubly important as it not only establishes the value pattern but also nails down the composition. Hylton is a fan of masking fluid, and she applies it using two brushes—one with "about two hairs in it" and the second for massing in shapes—but she avoids the use of gouache. "I try to only use the white of the paper because when I was trained in art school I was told that 'transparent watercolor is just that,'" she says. "But I see more and more paintings that are very successfully done that use a touch of gouache."

Hylton considers herself more than a hobbyist, but her circumstances allow her to pursue art at her leisure. "I don't have to do this to earn a living, so I paint what I want," she says. "I realize that this is a luxury."




Autumn Colors
2005, pastel, 17 x 24. Collection the artist.
High Noon
1998, watercolor, 13 x 18. Collection the artist.
Morning on Santa Cruz
2003, pastel, 19 x 27. Collection the artist.




Old Roses
2004, pastel, 12 x 16. Private collection.
Purchase Award and Joseph V. Giffuni Memorial Award, Pastel Society of America.
Sunset on the South Rim
2007, pastel, 17 x 26. Private collection.
Purchase Award, Grand Canyon Association.
One of the Fallen
2006, pastel, 18 1/2 x 23. Collection Arts in the Parks

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