Pastel Painting

. End of the Season by William Merritt Chase, 1885, pastel, 13¼ x 17¾.
End of the Season
by William Merritt Chase, 1885, pastel, 13¼ x 17¾.
.

Pastel painting or pastel drawing starts with an implement of pigment mixed with chalk or clay and combined with gum to make a paste that is then hardened and made available as soft or hard pastels, pastel pencils, or oil pastels.

Pastel lessons often discuss the medium in terms of both drawing and painting. It can be used to create broad strokes that appear buttery and solid like oil paints, but they can also be used to create precise lines and marks akin to any drawing implement. Further appeal of pastel painting lies in its wide range of colors and blending ability.

What makes pastels unique is that pastels aren't mixed together the way other media like oils, watercolors, or acrylic paints are. An artist has to select the specific color and value they want, or he or she has to overlap several strokes of pastel so they blend in the viewer's eyes to appear as if they have been physically combined. A pastel artist must have a wide assortment of pastel sticks to work with, and a strong sense of color layering.

Pastels were initially used to create studies for larger works, and not intended for the completion of a finished work. But nowadays pastel is accepted as a viable artistic medium. The nature of the medium makes it an excellent choice for those who favor portability as well. Pastel painting requires little set up, there is no need for solvents, and there are no brushes to clean. For this reason, many plein air painters work in pastel, and many portraitists of the 19th century worked in pastel to facilitate a speedy execution.

A Pastel Painting Master: Jean Francois Millet

Shepherdess and Her Flock by Jean-François Millet, 1862, black chalk and pastel, 14 5/16 x 18 11/16. .
Shepherdess and Her Flock by Jean-François Millet,
1862, black chalk and pastel, 14 5/16 x 18 11/16.
.
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Born to a family of farmers, French painter Jean-François Millet (1814-1875) was most interested in painting the daily life of the peasantry. His early work consisted of portraits and pastoral scenes, but it is the painting The Gleaners for which he is best known.

The painting depicts two women picking leftovers of the harvest, stooping low to collect so little. Picking up what was left of the harvest was regarded as one of the lowest jobs in society, yet Millet offered these women as the heroic focus of the picture; light illuminates the women's shoulders as they carry out their work. While he was criticized for presenting socialist leanings in his work, his paintings appeared in the Paris Salon year after year.

As his popularity grew in the 1860s Millet steadily received commissions, and in 1865 a patron began commissioning pastel drawings. From 1865-1869 he painted almost exclusively in pastel for a collection that would eventually include 90 works. With this collection Millett explored the possibilities and limits of the pastel painting. "He was one of the first to really draw with the medium and use broken strokes of color, rather than blending the colors extensively the way many early pastelists did," says Flattmann. Many of his later pictures are landscapes, with the human figure entirely absent. As he grew older, the artist preferred simpler, more direct processes such as using graphite or pastel, over painting. Instead of the heavy, dark coloring of many of his paintings of peasant life, Millet often let the tinted paper show through and used his color sparingly in his pastels, bringing his draftsmanship to the fore.

The artist's subject matter can inspire artists today who may be drawn to subjects that are deemed controversial or uninteresting. The use of pastel as a drawing tool, and the strokes of color evident in much of his pastel work not only brings greater attention to his subject matter but also shows that an artist has many options when working in pastel.

Source: Pastel Masters by Naomi Ekperigin, American Artist magazine, 2008.

Switching From Oils to Painting Pastels

. Back to the Clouds by David Stout,2006, pastel painting, 18 x 24. "I just love capturing the moment when the clouds open up and there is a sliver of intense light," says Stout. The approaching storm forced the artist to develop the painting very quickly--although he still ended up getting soaked. (Thankfully, the painting didn't.)
Back to the Clouds by David Stout,2006, pastel painting, 18 x 24.
"I just love capturing the moment when the clouds open up and
there is a sliver of intense light," says Stout. The approaching storm
forced the artist to develop the painting very quickly--although
he still ended up getting soaked. (Thankfully, the painting didn't.)

To help him maximize the limited amount of time he has for his art, artist David Stout decided to switch from oil to pastel. Besides enjoying the purity of the colors, the artist appreciates that there's little set up and no drying time with this medium, so he can have something down relatively quickly. Because he'd rather spend his time painting than searching for new products, Stout works with a limited number of pastels and only three brands: Rembrandt, Sennelier, and Schmincke. Although he admits to having "a hodgepodge of pastels" in his studio, separated into warm and cool colors, the artist has developed a feel for picking up a half or quarter stick of the right color. "I work fast and don't think about it too much," the artist explains. "I feel the color--I know what I want, and I find it."

Stout's pastel kit for painting outdoors is limited to about 35 pastels. (Occasionally he uses pastel pencils for fine line work.) He never buys the whole range of values of one color, relying on different colors for different values. One of his favorite colors is Sennelier dark green (No. 158) "It's incredible," he enthuses. "I use it instead of black; it breathes, it has life in it." Schmincke, he notes, makes a wonderful white (No. 17001-069D), which he appreciates for its saturation and covering ability. In snow scenes he likes to use Sennelier violet blue (No. 393), which is effective for cool shadows, and Sennelier ochre orange (No. 104) is perfect for creating the look of adobe.

After experimenting with different grounds, Stout has settled on Sennelier Pastel Card. He likes the uniformity of its surface as well as the fact that it's very forgiving and allows him to build up layers to create a sense of luminosity. It's also conducive to fine work and drawing thin lines. His preference is for toned cards, cooler blues and grays for winter pieces and warmer tones for fall or New Mexico scenes. He attaches the card to an acid-free Fome-Cor board with acid-free double-sided tape and sets it up on his French easel.

Stout begins a pastel work by making light indications, explaining that he does more thinking than painting at this stage. "You have to sneak up on a pastel painting," Stout says. "Start light. If you build up too quickly there's no going back. You lose the freshness and that painterly quality you want." With a half stick of Rembrandt burnt umber he then blocks in the scene, using the toned paper as the middle value. (Because he uses light strokes he can work other softer pastels over the burnt umber.) At one time he worked his way from the darkest dark to the lightest light, but now he blocks in the light, middle, and dark values in one step.

Next Stout paints the crucial center of interest and then makes decisions about what to include around it. He likes to keep everything loose except the focal point, allowing other areas to complement the main attraction. The artist generally uses three to four layers of pastel, spraying the second layer lightly with fixative to push the pastel into the ground. Because fixative tends to deaden colors, he sprays a painting only once. He doesn't hesitate to blend with his fingers-he enjoys the immediacy and control-and does a lot of smudging and softening of edges. "Too many competing sharp edges make a painting look overworked," he explains.

Source: A Disciplined Approach to Pastel by Linda Price.

From Frustration to Forgiveness: One Artist's Pastel Lessons

. Path With Trees to Hidden Pond by Marlene Wiedenbaum 2008, pastel, 24 x 31.
Path With Trees to Hidden Pond by Marlene Wiedenbaum
2008, pastel, 24 x 31.

In her pastel painting Path With Trees to Hidden Pond, Marlene Wiedenbaum presents a resplendent view of a glade whose rich canopy encloses a forest floor buried under a dense carpet of fallen leaves. So natural and convincing is the filtered sunlight and enveloping space of the painting that it takes us a few moments to discover the hint of a pathway through the woods. The artist, it seems, is content to take the world as she finds it and then to mine it for hidden riches and intriguing insights. She has achieved this feeling through masterful use of pastel, working it in numerous layers to create color of surprising subtlety and nuance while keeping her surface supremely tactile and alive.

"I love the immediacy, the color, and the forgiveness of pastel," says Wiedenbaum, "but I especially enjoy the involvement of my hands. I understand and control my fingers much better than I ever did a brush, and there's a more direct connectedness to the work." Wiedenbaum made the change to pastel from oil some years ago. "I was frustrated at having to clean brushes, as well as myself, and having to put everything away each time I wanted to paint," she recalls. "It was drudgery. I didn't have the luxury of huge blocks of time back then, and the condition of the work is different each time you return to an oil painting. A very good friend left a box of pastels on the dining room table, and that's when my relationship with pastels began." The artist also enjoys the portability of pastel. "It's so much easier to spontaneously pack up my supplies for working en plein air," she says.

Like most other pastel artists, Wiedenbaum has also come up against the difficulties imposed by the medium. "The biggest drawback is the dust," she says. "I sometimes wear a mask in the studio, but I don't know how much that really helps." The artist also manages to keep some of the pastel dust off her fingers by wearing finger cots--small rubber sleeves that can be rolled onto individual fingers--which are available in drugstores.

In order to achieve the lush and rich surface of her paintings, Wiedenbaum uses sanded paper and a wide variety of pastels. "I primarily use Sennelier, Schmincke, and Unison soft pastels," she says. "Through my endless search for colors, I have also been enjoying Great American Art Works and for a slightly harder pastel, Mount Vision. For many years I worked on Sennelier La Carte sanded paper. That product seems to have changed, however, so I use Wallis paper more often. I am also working a lot with UART paper, since they offer a 40-inch sheet and various textures. The 400 and 500 grades have made my fingers bleed, but the layering possibilities make 500 my preferred paper."

Source: Building Rich and Full Layers by John Parks.


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  • Winter Radiance by Claudia Seymour, 2005, pastel, 15 x 11. What sort of fixative, if any, should pastel artists apply to finished works? "Used properly and sparingly, fixative is a godsend," says artist Claudia Seymour. Our experts agree—but
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  • Ugh, after all the holiday eating I've been doing, I should probably go exercise or run laps. But as a warm up I thought I would talk about physicality, power, and movement in oil painting . Maybe this'll be the inspiration I need to get off my
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  • Pastel drawing by Lea Colie Wight. At Studio Incamminati, it is not unusual for instructors or fellows who are not teaching a particular class to come in to draw or paint beside the students. This happened recently when Lea Colie Wight joined in a figure
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  • This is a monotype print I just made of a winter scene. I went over it with pastel to get the motion of the swirling, whirling snow. It'll make a great card for some lucky friend this season! I've long been fascinated with holiday greeting cards
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  • This is one of the artist's more traditional pieces in terms of his painting process. ( Raspberry House by Jamie Wyeth, 1988, watercolor, 22 1/2 x 28 1/2.) Watercolor is one of those wondrous materials that can be manipulated in so many different
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  • Reflect Your True Vision with Accurate Form Now you can paint the human form with the depth and detail it deserves - your artwork will come alive with this exciting special issue from American Artist: Portrait and Figure Painting Highlights Fall 2010. Improve the detail of your portraits with 100 pages
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  • My early charcoal drawing. The charcoal drawing using the Studio's method. Once again, time for me to go back to school at Studio Incamminati . In preparing for classes, I have been reviewing my last year's drawings again. I am reminded of something
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  • Manhattan Nocturne by Frank Federico, pastel painting, 20 x 24. I have a tried and true love affair going with color. I'm drawn to it across the spectrum, but I'm a late bloomer when it comes to pastel painting, which has to be some kind of crime
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  • Learn classical techniques with an inspiring guide that shows you how to create stunning pieces with ease and confidence. Make your colors sing and enhance your process—top contemporary masters of today show you how. Challenge yourself with more complicated arrangements and develop the confidence
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  • One of the offerings in the show is Degas' Two Dancers , a pastel painting on Canson vellum paper. I wish! But there is an amazing art show going on that I should be going to (along with eating assorted baked goods and cheeses and chocolates). Matisse
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  • Notice the chalk lines drawn over the figure to assess and check the proportion and length of her limbs. I have finally finished my oil painting , Leaves of Grass , which I have blogged about previously. In all, the painting probably took nearly 2 months
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  • In a recent post on how to paint clouds at sunset , we diagrammed a pastel painting and explained a bit about the types of clouds one may encounter when painting outdoors . This time, we have dissected a watercolor, Ghost Ranch IV , that I painted in New Mexico near Georgia O’Keefe’s house
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  • When John Hulsey and Ann Trusty told me the name of their website— The Artist’s Road —I smiled to myself because they got it so right! Art—painting, drawing, sculpting, all of it—is a path, a journey. Sometimes the path is smooth and things go right, and sometimes it is
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  • Pastel painter and oil painter Albert Handell. Albert Handell: Weekend With the Masters Instructor Pastelist and oil painter Albert Handell was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1937. At an early age, a favorite activity of his was drawing with chalks on
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  • Quang Ho at his easel. Quang Ho: Weekend With the Masters Instructor Quang Ho was born on April 30, 1963, in Hue, Vietnam. He immigrated to the United States in 1975 and is now a U.S. citizen. His artistic interest began at the early age of 3 and continued
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  • Spring Dance by Nancy Guzik, 12 x 20, oil painting. Nancy Guzik: Weekend With the Masters Instructor Throughout her career in art, Nancy Guzik has been quietly perfecting not only her skills but also the focus of her work. The result on the surface of
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  • Maya with Guitar by Susan Lyon, oil painting, 12 x 9. Susan Lyon: Weekend With the Masters Instructor Susan Lyon studied painting at the American Academy of Art and the Palette & Chisel Academy of Fine Arts, both in Chicago. It is there she first
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  • Dawn, High Tide-Navesink River by Skip Whitcomb, oil painting on linen, 10 x 20. Skip Whitcomb: Weekend With the Masters Instructor Born in 1946, M.W. Skip Whitcomb has been interested in art since his childhood on a ranch near Sterling, Colorado. However
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  • Crashing Waves at Three Arch Bay; Laguna Beach by Peter Adams , pastel painting, 12 x 16. Peter Adams: Weekend With the Masters Instructor Peter Adams was born in Los Angeles, California, on August 27, 1950 and he received his training in California at
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  • Vermont Farmhouse by Clayton Beck, oil painting. Clayton Beck: Weekend With the Masters Instructor Clayton J. Beck III studied at the American Academy of Art and the Palette & Chisel Academy of Fine Arts, in Chicago, and launched his career as a professional
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  • Living as we do in the center of the country where the dominant feature of the landscape is the sky, we have always enjoyed painting the rich variety of clouds here. Besides being beautiful to look at, clouds can tell us all sorts of things about the weather, both present and future, that can prove very
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  • Here's John using his heavy-weight watercolor gear while painting in Colorado. Through trial and error, over the years, we have figured out how to pack for our foot-powered plein-air painting adventures. We like to keep our heavy-duty Eagle Creek
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  • Scott Burdick and Susan Lyon are skilled artists, inspiring instructors, and just really kind people. If you've ever been in a workshop with either of them, you are lucky enough to know what I mean. In watching them work, you get a sense of the sensitivity and thoughtfulness with which they craft
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  • Study for Leaves of Grass . All works by Patricia Watwood. With the image of a female figure reading in the summer grass in mind, I began to develop my oil painting , Leaves of Grass . I started with a preparatory drawing. I work with models and from
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  • Measure First, Draw Second; The Pathway to Great Compositions; Make Every ?Brushstroke Count; Learn How Top Artists Paint; How the Academic Technique can Work for You
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  • I like pastel for winter work because of the ease of not having to deal with paint thinner, stiff paint, or mixing color on a palette. When winter graces us with her charms and everywhere you look is covered in a beautiful layer of snow, Ann and I get
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  • Tracks II by John Hulsey, pastel. With the high-contrast conditions of winter sun on brilliant snow, we have been exploring the colors of snow and shadows in our plein air paintings. Shadows are essential because they create the form and interest in a
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  • Reflect Your True Vision with Accurate Form Now you can paint the human form with the depth and detail it deserves – your artwork will come alive with this exciting special issue from American Artist: Portrait and Figure Painting Highlights Fall 2010. Improve the detail of your portraits with 100
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  • On the Cover: Belle (detail, reversed) by Galina Perova, 2007, oil, 50 x 44. Private collection. FEATURES Rosemarie Beck: Exploring the Physicality of Paint by Eric Sutphin This New York artist used themes from mythology, music, and literature as ways
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  • Twilight by Anthony Ryder, 1998, pencil and pastel on gold paper, 25 x 19. The event I’ve been looking forward to since I came to Artist Daily is just a few days away. Weekend With the Masters 2010 is almost here. I’ve been told that the energy
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  • American Artist’s Weekend With the Masters Workshop & Conference will be arriving on the sunny shores of Southern California this September 22-26, in our second-annual presentation of this four-day event. Workshops, demos, lectures, panel discussions, and evening events from more than 25 instructors
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  • How to Paint Landscapes; 10 Cover Contest Winners Offer You Their Best Advice; Combine Watermedia & Pastel for Inspired Results; Express Content with Fewer Brushstrokes
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  • On the Cover: Idaline (detail) by Anthony Ryder, 2007, graphite and pastel on tinted paper, 14 x 10. Collection the artist. FEATURES The Ryder Studio School: Drawing on Light & Form by Allison Malafronte Artists who want to learn Anthony Ryder’s
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  • SPECIAL REPORT Explore New Creative Ideas With Acrylics; Learn From Sorolla’s Epic Masterpiece; Increase the Drama in Pastel Paintings; How to Plan & Improve Your Watercolors
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  • How to Paint With Spontaneity & Insight; Benefit from a Beginner's; Sense of Adventure; Bring Drawings to Life In Watercolor Paintings; Professional Advice on Painting With Pastel, Oil & Watercolor and much more!
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  • Ramona by Tony Ryder, 1995, graphite, 24 x 18. Private collection. My father has been in the construction industry for nearly 40 years. When I was younger, one of my favorite things to do was visit him on the job site before a building was finished and
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  • On the Cover: Winter Glow (detail) by Neal Hughes, 2008, oil, 16 x 20. Collection Dr. Pat White. Blending Traditions of Still Life Painting Representation & Invention in Watercolor DEPARTMENTS Editor’s Note Letters What’s New at artistdaily
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  • On the Cover: Sunflowers I (detail) by Patricia Tribastone, 2007, pastel on prepared board, 24 x 18. Collection the artist. Drawing Upon Local Community & Landscape Painting My Hometown From Photographs DEPARTMENTS Editor’s Note Letters What’s
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  • Mountain Stream by Mary Ann Stafford, 2008, pastel, 18 x 24. The rocks and water in the foreground are very effective. I would like to have more of an impression that the water on the back waterfall is moving toward the viewer and connecting with the
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  • Check out what's featured in the December 2009 issue of American Artist .
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  • By subtly layering pastel, Marlene Wiedenbaum creates a luscious and convincing sense of the world.
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  • I recently took an unsold painting out of its frame so that I could reuse the metal leaf frame, and as I studied the oil landscape I realized why it wasn’t successful. The surface of the canvas was uniformly thin and flat, and there was nothing
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  • Although I am known for using vibrant colors to create what appear to be playful, spontaneous images in my watercolor paintings, the key to the success of these paintings is the value structure of the compositions. Here’s how I teach others to use studies to plan effective compositions.
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  • My office is also a conference room on the third floor of a building on 46th Street in Midtown New York City. The desk and file cabinets are pushed against the east wall of what was once a library, and a large conference table and eight chairs are arranged
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  • In the September 2009 issue of American Artist we featured work by New Hampshire artist Robin Frisella, who uses pastels to create paintings of cherished objects, establishing emotional links between the paintings and collectors. Here, we present additional work by the artist.
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  • I frequently commission articles on exceptional artists who sell their original artwork through outdoor shows. I do that for two particular reasons: One is that those artists are, of necessity, well organized and able to deliver requested photographs
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  • Most of the students attending workshops and art classes rely on the instructor’s list of recommended supplies when deciding what drawing and painting materials to use, so their resulting artwork usually looks quite similar. However, when artists
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  • Check out what's featured in the Summer 2009 issue of Drawing .
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  • Find out about American Artist's Reader Advisory Panel.
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  • The Table of Contents for the September 2009 issue of American Artist .
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  • Whether painting in oil or pastel, Connecticut artist Claudia Seymour avoids static compositions by using line, color, and design to move the viewer’s eye through the painting.
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  • I can't speak for anyone else, but I sure enjoyed Drawing Day 2009 ! I went to Central Park with a friend, loaded down with drawing pencils, drawing sketchbooks, painting supplies, and Gatorade. Several scenes screamed out to be captured in a quick
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  • The Table of Contents for the July/August 2009 issue of American Artist.
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  • In the Spring 2009 issue of Drawing magazine, we featured an article on Fred Hatt, an artist whose dynamic and powerful drawings can be classified as performances almost as much as objects. Here, we present additional artwork from the artist.
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  • Artists from across the country submitted their work for consideration in the 2009 American Artist Cover Competition. After an extensive selection process Suzanne Eisler’s Still Life With Butterfly was chosen as the winning image. It is presented here, along with artwork from the nine other finalists
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  • Gulf Coast oil painter Susan Downing-White has a found a way to depict warmly illuminated skies and coastlands using light strokes and a muted palette.
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  • The table of contents for the June 2009 issue of American Artist.
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  • In the April 2009 issue of American Artist , we featured watermedia artist Penny Soto, who worries less about the established "rules" of painting, and more about what will best help her create her artwork. Here, we present some paintings by the artist that we were unable to fit into the magazine
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  • American Artist would like to thank all of the plein air painters who submitted artwork for our Showcase Your State: New Jersey contest. From images of babbling brooks and sunlit fields in the suburbs to depictions of sailing ships and lighthouses at the Jersey Shore, New Jersey is clearly a subject
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  • Q: I currently keep all of my finished oil and pastel paintings in my Manhattan studio. In the winter, the studio gets very hot because I can't control the heat. Can the extreme temperature hurt my paintings? A: Extreme changes in temperature are
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  • Q: Can I use turpentine on pastel paper? A: The turpentine may not hasten the deterioration of the pastel paper but it will likely leave a dark stain, as it is a resinous material. Mineral spirits are less likely to leave a stain, and many pastelists
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  • Q: I want to use chalk pastels on unprimed canvas and have the colors achieve a melted look. How might I do this? A: Pastels are water soluble, so you can achieve this effect by mixing dust from the pastel sticks with water. However, when the paint dries
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  • Q : I am just starting to learn how to draw and paint, and I have a limited budget to spend on art materials. Which pastel set would you recommend? A : Sennlier produces top-of-the-line pastels, and many artists save them for the top layer of their artwork
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  • Q: Where and in what manner do you suggest signing a pastel work? A: Signing an artwork, regardless of medium, in subjective. Most artists sign their artwork in the lower right-hand or left-hand corner. If you are going to mat your pastel, you should
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  • Q: I use oil pastels and would like to know about any books or other educational sources that deal specifically with this medium. Most resources deal with dry pastels instead of oil pastels. A: There are many books on oil pastels that are very good. I
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  • Q: Is there any way I can add something to soft pastels and/or the surface I'm working on to make the soft pastels fix better? Does turpentine make them fix? A: Turpentine is used to start a pastel painting because by blending the turpentine with
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  • Q: How and where does an artist dispose of turpentine? A: Turpentine is a hazardous waste product. You may be able to take it to your local fire department, but you should contact your local EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) office for more information
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  • The Table of Contents for the April 2009 issue of American Artist magazine.
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  • Steve Doherty talks about the importance of material selection in the drawing in printmaking process.
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  • In the winter 2009 issue of Drawing , we highlighted work from James Jean's sketchbooks. Here, we reproduce additional work that we were unable to include in the print article.
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  • Many pastelists consider their pieces to be paintings. Here at American Artist, we have tried to steer clear of the debate on whether pastel is a drawing medium or a painting medium, although when put against the wall and poked in the chest, we'll
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  • Steve Doherty discusses the social aspects of watermedia painting and the proliferation of watermedia organizations.
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  • Dawn Whitelaw discusses proper technique when working with chalk and charcoal.
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  • B&W #6 , 2000, oil drawing on paper, 12" x 9" by Lisa Dinhofer An artist I interviewed recently, Lisa Dinhofer, said that being a good draftsman isn't enough. She said putting the emphasis on the objects in your scene is risky if it
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  • Michael Mentler's pencil drawings from his sketchbook. David Jon Kassan, a friend and an excellent painter and draftsman here in NYC, recently sent me these words about an artist he met during his travels. Here are some images from the artist's
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  • Steve Doherty asked several well-known artists what gifts they would present to another artist during the upcoming holiday season. Here's what they said.
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  • Gainesville, 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
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  • We have provided a list of links to online art resources that we think are helpful. You can also access these links in the Art Educators section of our website. Art Associations Plein Air Plein Air Painters of America The Plein Air Scene Indiana Plein
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  • This Toronto artist has spent the last three years exploring abstraction of the human figure, blending his classical training with a new approach. Red Boot by Brian Smith, oil, 36 x 24. by Bob Bahr Brian Smith is classically trained and has been drawing
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  • In the December 2008 issue of American Artist , we discussed how Mary Buergin creates small oil or pastel paintings before or after she finished her larger works. Here, we present additional examples of her work. For more information on the artist, visit
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  • When J.C. Airoldi left a successful career as a designer, she applied the same level of determination, practicality, hard work, and marketing skills that she used in her previous profession to creating and selling paintings. Gloucester Solitude 2008,
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  • Hundreds of artists from around the country sent in submissions for American Artist’s 2008 Cover Competition, and the editors narrowed the selection down to the 10 they thought best captured the skill level and style of our publication. When those
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  • Utah artist Colleen Howe is an accomplished pastelist and workshop instructor who is widely known for her sensitive and colorful landscapes of the West. Here she shares four helpful steps to achieving successful works of art. by Colleen Howe, as told
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  • Read the transcript from yesterday's live online chat with pastel artist Janet Monafo. 2008-06-09 11:00:12.0 Administrator: You have joined a chat with Janet Monafo, a top pastelist who has been highlighted in American Artist magazine. Feel free to
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  • We chose 10 finalists for our Drawing Magazine Cover Competition—and then easily named William Rose the winner, as he best showcased the skill level and imagination of our readers. View the winners of the Watercolor magazine 2008 cover competiton
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  • During a recent plein air workshop in Southern France, Judith Carducci helped students who worked with pen-and-ink, pastel, watercolor, and oil colors. The unifying themes of the 10-day class were that drawing basics are a foundation of all media and
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  • During nearly 30 years of interviewing landscape artists for American Artist , M. Stephen Doherty has watched hundreds of painters use a variety of materials and techniques. Here, he takes the best of that gleaned knowledge and distills it into seven
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  • For those just starting out, the cost of art materials can be a hindrance to fully exploring different media. However, there are many ways one can prolong the life and maximize the use of various tools, so you can spend a little and get a lot. by Naomi
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  • During a recent plein air workshop in Southern France, Judith Carducci helped students who worked with pen-and-ink, pastel, watercolor, and oil colors. The unifying themes of the 10-day class were that drawing is a foundation of all media and working
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  • In the Fall 2007 issue of Workshop magazine, we presented Daniel E. Greene's approach to teaching drawing and painting in art-school classes, short-term workshops, and filmed programs. Here we reproduce the article from the November 2007 issue of
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  • Several established contemporary artists have approached the subject of self-portraiture in different ways, depicting who they are or who they wish to be at various times in their lives. by Ephraim Rubenstein Self-Portrait, Matisse Print by Mary Beth
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  • The International Association of Pastel Societies (IAPS) recently held their 11th Annual Juried Exhibition at the Butler Institute of American Art, in Youngstown, Ohio, and award winners were selected by jurors Duane Wakeham and Urania Christy Tarbet
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  • View an online exclusive gallery of more work by July/August American Artist 2008 featured artist Colleen Howe. The Cowboy 2007, pastel, 14 x 18. All artwork this gallery collection the artist. Cassis Boat Reflections 2007, pastel, 18 x 24. Horses at
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  • Janet Monafo once tossed objects onto her studio floor in an attempt to paint a more random arrangement with pastels. “I really wanted to accept whatever happened, but in the end I couldn’t resist my need to carefully organize the shapes and
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  • In the summer 2008 issue of Drawing magazine, we discussed how Omaha artist Kent Bellows was a masterful draftsman who took the time to contemplate a vision and complete works that would endure past his untimely death. We offer more examples of his pencil
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  • Artists looking to work with pastel can learn valuable techniques and tips by studying artists who first explored the medium and discovered the possibilities the medium offers. by Naomi Ekperigin Although the work of oil painters and draftsmen is well
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  • A noted artist and instructor demonstrates how he lays down a wash, then adds darks and lifts out lights to reveal an expressive drawing. by Robert T. Barrett In the process of developing my ability to see values correctly, I became aware that very few
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  • Carefully choosing the right drawing tools for a given subject gives a draftsman a tremendous advantage. by Bob Bahr CLOCKWISE FROM TOP A bottle of walnut ink and a bamboo pen, four colors of Conté crayons (bistre, sanguine, black, and white),
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  • Denise LaRue Mahlke believes that being an artist is a calling that involves preserving, celebrating, and sharing in God’s creation. That’s one of the reasons she challenges herself to strive for excellence as a pastel painter and a teacher
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  • In an exhibition opening this month in New York City, Daniel E. Greene presents still-life and figure paintings inspired by the experiences and objects of his childhood. Those paintings allowed him to explore the themes of challenge, contrast, and competition
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  • The Allied Artists of America recently held its 94th annual juried exhibition at the National Arts Club Galleries, in New York City. The Allied Artists of America recently held its 94th annual juried exhibition at the National Arts Club Galleries, in
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  • The Legion of Honor, in San Francisco, will be the exclusive U.S. venue for this exhibition of Impressionist work from four of the genre's best-known female artists. Women Impressionists: Berthe Morisot, Mary Cassatt, Eva Gonzalès, Marie Bracquemond
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  • More than $10,000 in cash and merchandise was awarded to 34 pastel painters at the Connecticut Pastel Society's 14th Annual "Renaissance in Pastel" exhibition. More than $10,000 in cash and merchandise was awarded to 34 pastel painters at
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  • In the March 2008 of American Artist, pastelist Roger Ambrosier created atmospheric landscapes that stressed the essence and mood of a scene. We present more of his landscapes in this online exclusive gallery. First Light 2006, pastel, 8 x 10. All artwork
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  • Modulate contrast to keep the attention on the focal point. by Dawn Whitelaw The Old Man Pastel, 23 x 17. The artist has done an excellent job with this pastel portrait—the drawing and the use of color are quite effective. My only suggestion would
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  • Learn about working with water-soluble pencils from Kristy Ann Kutch, author of Drawing and Painting With Colored Pencil (Watson-Guptill Publications, New York, New York). by Kristy Ann Kutch Water-soluble colored drawing products include: 1) watercolor
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  • In 1994 New York City pastelist Sam Goodsell returned to the art world after nine years away, determined to fully explore the challenging and rewarding genre of figure painting. His dedication is paying off. To read more features like this, subscribe
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  • Seventeen regional and national fine artists have spent the past year painting in vineyards in the Sierra Foothills and in the Lodi-Woodbridge region of California, creating work in pastel, oil, acrylic, and photography for this exhibition. Vines April
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  • Ohio artist J. Todd Anderson took his talent for drawing to Hollywood and, as a storyboard artist, became part of the award-winning Coen Brothers movie-making team, creating the storyboards for such movies as Raising Arizona and No Country for Old Men
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  • Read the transcript from yesterday's live online chat and drawing tutorial with colored pencil artist Arlene Steinberg. Be sure to attend our next live chat with pastel artist Janet Monafo on Monday, June 9 at 2pm EST. 2008-05-12 11:00:03.0 Administrator
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  • In her colored pencil and graphite drawings, Dee Overly invites viewers to admire the unique details of natural objects. by Lynne Moss Perricelli Raindrops 2007, colored pencil drawing, 8½ x 7. This piece won second place in American Artist’s
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  • Arlene Steinberg develops her detailed colored pencil drawings in much the same way as an oil painter would proceed. She carefully determines a composition, builds from dark shadows to bright highlights, and underpaints complementary colors to enrich
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  • In this online exclusive gallery, view more pastel figures by American Artist April 2008 featured artist Sam Goodsell. Inner Dance-Jessica 2007, pastel, 54¾ x 43¼. All artwork this gallery collection the artist unless otherwise indicated
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  • Painting the expressiveness of a person’s mouth helps establish his or her likeness, personality, and vitality in a portrait, yet many artists have difficulty representing that facial feature. Here’s how I teach students to paint a mouth in
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  • Midwestern artist Christopher Copeland paints the landscape that surrounds him, imbuing it with emotion and recording the transient moments that are often difficult to capture. by Naomi Ekperigin Midsummer Evening 2007, oil, 30 x 32. Private collection
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  • In the spring 2008 issue of Drawing magazine, we explored how the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts puts students on the path to become artists, teaching them drawing basics and then taking them beyond. In this online exclusive gallery, we offer more
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  • Californian Patricia A. Hannaway stresses that the best drawings of living things honor the action line and gesture, suggesting their movements in the recent past, present, and future. This dynamic, cinematic approach makes sense for someone who has made
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  • The Bay Area Classical Artist Atelier, just outside of San Francisco, began with one woman’s dream to establish a school steeped in the traditions of the European ateliers of the past. Today the atelier is one of the most regarded classical contemporary
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  • In the May 2008 issue of American Artist , William Schneider discussed how he teaches students to paint a mouth in either oil or pastel. We offer more examples of his work in this online exclusive gallery. After the Fiesta 2008, pastel, 16 x 20. All artwork
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  • The joy and excitement of plein air painting is worth the extra effort required to paint comfortably outside. Here, we address common problems and experiences artists face when first working outdoors. by Naomi Ekperigin Since the 19 th century, artists
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  • Watch January 2007 American Artist feature artist Richard McKinley develop a watercolor underpainting into a completed pastel painting (6:42). Richard McKinley Click to Play | View Details
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  • Many artists should have knowledge of the safety and health hazards associated with certain media as well as the precautions necessary to avoid these dangers. Here we offer several tips and techniques to help artists avoid the risks associated with prolonged
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  • In the January 2007 issue of American Artist, we discuss how Richard McKinley guides a picture through a "dance," during which his medium exerts as much influence over the performance as he does. We present more of his oil and pastel landscapes
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  • We present biographies and artwork from our 20 esteemed watercolor teachers. by Beth Patterson Mary Alice Braukman The Power of Letting Go by Mary Alice Braukman, 2005, mixed media and collage, 22 x 30. Collection the artist. Mary Alice Braukman is an
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  • New Hampshire artist Roland Simard takes papermaking to the next level with his pulp paintings. by Stephanie Kaplan Shadow Pool 2007, fiber, 24 x 18. Collection the artist. New Hampshire artist Roland Simard’s paintings are all about creating layers
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  • This New York artist uses the sheen of graphite to create the light highlights in her drawings on black paper. by Bob Bahr Study of a Roman Sculpture 2007, graphite on black paper, 50 x 33. Collection the artist. Twilight by Sherry Camhy, 2006, graphite
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  • We present the semifinalists in the pastel category. by Karen Stanger Johnston Changing Channels by Mike Barret Kolasinski, 2007, pastel on archival foam board, 12 x 24. First Place: Mike Barret Kolasinski Chicago artist Mike Barret Kolasinski is passionate
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  • Pay careful attention to color temperature. by Elizabeth Pruitt Maddy No. 1 2006, pastel on acid-free foam board, 24 x 20. The artist has achieved an intimate feeling in this paintingâ??itâ??s as if the viewer is drawn into the horseâ
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  • An exhibition at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, in Philadelphia, aims to present Cecilia Beaux for the great painter she was: one of the most accomplished among men and woman alike. by Lynne Moss Perricelli Self-Portrait 1894, oil, 25 x 20
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  • This French master teaches us much about contours, portraiture, and how to draw people. by Mark G. Mitchell Portrait of Charles- François Mallet 1809, graphite, 10 9/16 x 8 5/16. Collection The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois. So that’s
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  • With limited time to paint, pastelist Dave Stout has learned to pare down his supplies and develop an efficient and effective working method. Like what you read? Become an American Artist subscriber today! by Linda S. Price Back to the Clouds 2006, pastel
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  • A more finished drawing is possible when a model poses for an extended amount of time, but this luxury comes with particular challenges. Identifying and preparing for the potential pitfalls will improve your figure drawing . To read more features like
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  • Selecting a palette of colors often means limiting the choices, making studies, and experimenting along the way. by Christopher Willard One of the keys to successful watercolor painting is to choose a workable set of colors. Today, with the wide range
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  • Albert Handell, one of the most important artists working in pastel today, was the subject of a retrospective exhibition at The Butler Institute of American Art. Here, he describes some of the seminal paintings in the show and his continuing exploration
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  • In the October 2007 issue of American Artist, Albert Handell described some of the seminal pastels in his current retrospective exhibition at the Butler Institute of American Art . We showcase more of his pastel work and three of his oil paintings in
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  • Read the transcript from our online chat with mutimedia artist Fran Hardy. 2007-07-26 12:00:14.0 Administrator: You have joined a chat with Fran Hardy, an artist who transforms her graphite drawings into remarkable multimedia pieces that incorporate sgraffito
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  • Santa Barbara artist Ann Sanders finds natural beauty in her surroundings and puts it down in pastel using proven methods—and she stresses that you can too. by Bob Bahr Devereux Afternoon 2006, pastel, 11 x 15. Collection Shirley Dettmann. The scenes
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  • Thank you to everyone who voted! Congratulations to Readers' Choice Competition winner Yimeng Ling for her watercolor Autumn Wind. Winners by Medium Best of Acrylic Best of Colored Pencil Best of Drawing Best of Mixed Media Spinning Lesson by Bryana
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  • The Academic Artists Association recently held its 57th National Exhibition of Contemporary Realism in Art, at American International College, in Springfield, Massachusetts. Academic Artists Association Announces Award Winners The Academic Artists Association
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  • The National Portrait Gallery, in Washington, DC, is presenting this exhibition of portraits of the former associate justice of the United States, Sandra Day O’Connor, through October 8. The National Portrait Gallery Presents “Portraits of
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  • We present the semifinalists in the colored pencil category. by Karen Stanger Johnston Ya Reckin by Rosemarie Rush, 2006, colored pencil, 16 x 20. First Place: Rosemarie Rush Like most of the images of Western life by California artist Rosemarie Rush
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  • Ingres taught us much about contours and portraiture. Here, we offer an excerpt from the feature about how the artist's use of graphite on smooth white paper was ahead of his time. by Mark G. Mitchell Portrait of La Principessa Fiano 1817, graphite
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  • It is important to consider the background color in a portrait. by Dawn Whitelaw Kate Menendez 2006, pastel, 21 x 19. The critic created an adjusted version of the painting in Photoshop to supplement her critique. This artist asked for help with the background
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  • This expatriate American turned away from realism to create an art of stylish and ethereal beauty, ably represented in his drawings. by John A. Parks Crouching Figure in The White Symphony: Three Girls 1869-1870, chalk on brown paper, 10 5/8 x 10¾
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  • Chicago’s School of Representational Art offers a classical art education in a modern world. by Mark G. Mitchell Tartan by Steve Ohlrich, 1999, charcoal and pastel on white paper, 25 x 19. On the top floor of an old factory warehouse in the arts
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  • Liz Haywood-Sullivan relies on several techniques to ensure she consistently achieves rich, velvety darks. View an online exlcusive gallery of Haywood-Sullivan's work. by Christopher Willard Southwest Solitude 2005, pastel, 24 x 36. Private collection
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  • Former woodcarver Suzanne LaPrade is very much interested in the underlying structures that make up her pastel and oil subjects. by Karen Frankel The Heiress 2006, oil, 48 x 30. Collection Mr. and Mrs. P.T. Farrel. The woods behind Suzanne LaPrade’s
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  • In the spring 2007 issue of Workshop , we discussed how oil and pastel artist Robert Hoffman encouraged students to relax, explore, and experiment in his five-day introduction to plein air painting. Here, we offer an excerpt from the article about how
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  • A look at the anatomical structure of the ear, and some helpful tips on how to draw people . by Ephraim Rubenstein Maddie 2005, pastel on sanded board, 19 x 15. In this portrait of my daughter, Madeleine, her ear is lit very dramatically from behind.
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  • In the October 2007 issue of American Artist, we profile eight of the Plein-Air Painters of American (PAPA) members who will be part of the group's 21st annual exhibition and sale, titled "From the Heart: Plein-Air Painters of American"
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  • Nearly 60 views of Malibu created by members of the California Art Club are featured in this exhibition, which explores not only the city’s picturesque scenery but also the enduring California plein air landscape tradition. by Michael Zakian Driving
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  • One of the top artists specializing in children’s portraits recently offered workshops for both oil and pastel painters. Although some of Wende Caporale’s specific instructions related to one medium or the other, her general discussions about
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  • We present more of Liz Haywood-Sullivan's rich, velvety pastels as an extension of the feature article in the May 2007 issue of American Artist . Waiting for Spring 2006, pastel on black paper, 15 x 30. Collection the artist. Lupine and Birch 2004
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  • In the March 2007 issue of American Artist , we explored how Kim Lordier has succeeded by pushing herself to create better and more original paintings with pastel and by stopping herself from rendering photographic details. Here, we offer more of her
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  • Ria Hills, our Artist of the Month for November, is a pastel painter who celebrates the quiet loveliness of the ordinary. by Edith Zimmerman Egg pastel, 5 x 7. Collection the artist. Ria Hills , our Artist of the Month for November, is a pastel painter
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  • Teaching students about color is essentially teaching them how to see—and then explaining how to paint beyond the literal. According to students, Montana painter Ned Mueller succeeds in doing this in his plein air workshops. by Bob Bahr Ned Mueller
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  • The Gallery at Lincoln Center will present the New York City debut of Ann Marshall and Matthew Wood June 7th through June 30. Ann Marshall & Matthew Wood June 7 through June 31 The Gallery at Lincoln Center New York, New York (212) 875-5017 The Gallery
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  • This valuable lesson plan explains how to teach high-school students to draw landscapes. by Erica Yonks Green Trees 9th grade student, 2006, colored pencil. Grade Level: 9 Duration: three days Objectives • To depict landscapes with the illusion of
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  • Read the transcript from our online chat with colored pencil artist Alyona Nickelsen. This chat was brought to you by Legion Paper . 2007-03-08 11:00:27.0 Administrator: You have joined a chat with Alyona Nickelsen, a colored pencil artist featured in
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  • We present an online exclusive gallery of Ann Sanders' pastel landscapes to supplement the print feature in the April 2007 issue of American Artist . Cherry Creek 2006, pastel, 8 x10. Collection Cody Hartley. Donner Creek 2 2005, pastel, 10 x 8. All
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  • Californian Kim Lordier has succeeded by pushing herself to create better and more original paintings with pastel and by stopping herself from rendering photographic details. “I had to gain enough confidence to make marks that expressed what I wanted
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  • Florida Artist John Bowen increases his palette of colors and adds texture to his paintings by mixing zinc white gouache with his transparent watercolors. by M. Stephen Doherty Many watercolorists avoid using Chinese white or zinc white gouache with their
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  • Line has been around for a long time. Ever since the prehistoric era, when that first artist picked up a lump of wood ash from a spent campfire and outlined a hand on the cave wall, lines have described forms of all types--human, animal, and landscape
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  • Nine years ago, Mark Norseth moved his family to Hawaii and discovered the perfect place to record the power, movement, and coloration of the sea in pastel paintings. by Tamara Moan It’s easy to spot Mark Norseth around the town of Kailua, perhaps
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  • Jean Ranstrom’s artist-friends are often surprised that she can create stunning pastel paintings in locations they would ignore. “If a painting has a strong focal point, as well as varied edges, values, and color temperatures, it can be successful
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  • This exhibition of work by pastel artist Susan Bennerstrom will be on display at Terrence Rogers Fine Art through March 3. Susan Bennerstrom Through March 3 Terrence Rogers Fine Art Santa Monica, California (310) 394-4999 This exhibition of work by pastel
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  • Time in Giverny with Monet transformed Theodore Robinson's work, and much of what he learned he later passed on to another promising young painter. by Stephen May A recent exhibition on Theodore Robinson (1852–1896) highlighted the importance
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  • Forbes and American Artis t again invited a group of artists to spend a week together interpreting a vast Colorado ranch in their choice of medium, subject, and style. by M. Stephen Doherty View of Cat Mountain by Ephraim Rubenstein, 2006, oil, 9 x 17½
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  • In this online exclusive gallery, we present more paintings from the Forbes Trinchera Ranch residency as a supplement to the feature in the March 2007 issue of American Artist . Creek by Ryan S. Brown, 2006, oil, 22 x 28. All artwork this gallery collection
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  • In the February 2007 issue of American Artist , we discussed Mark Norseth's pastel paintings of the sea. In contrast, we present several of his oil and watercolor paintings in this online exclusive gallery. Approaching Twilight 2006, oil on linen
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  • by Edith Zimmerman From Hart’s Cartooning series (Watson-Guptill Publications, New York, New York). Anyone interested in the techniques of cartooning has probably heard of Christopher Hart . His instructional books have been read and reread by millions
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  • In the winter 2006 issue of Workshop magazine, we offered an inside look into Montana painter Ned Mueller's plein air workshops. Here, we showcase his figurative and landscape paintings as well as a few drawings. Norwegian Summer 2006, oil, 11 x 14
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  • Featuring works created between 1839 and 1936, this exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum includes seven works on paper that served as preparatory drawings for oil paintings in the museum’s permanent collection as well as some of the completed paintings
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  • Depicting features is only the beginning. Putting life into a head drawing requires assimilating it with the rest of the body, capturing an attitude—and much more. by Dan Gheno Study for the Angel in Madonna of the Rocks by Leonardo, silverpoint
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  • Pastel artist Diana De Santis has devised an approach that allows her to focus on subjects rather than materials and techniques. by Lynne Moss Perricelli Diana De Santis believes in keeping things simple. Rather than pursuing complicated methods of working
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  • In contrast to his methodical, painstaking technique, G. Daniel Massad takes an intuitive approach to conceiving his pastel still lifes, allowing the imagery to emerge in its own time. by Lynne Moss Perricelli The Way Through 2001, pastel, 161/2 x 16
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  • Michigan artist Sharon Will uses the elements of color—value, hue, temperature, and intensity—to give her paintings drama and excitement. by Collin Fry Rocking Chair 2002, pastel, 12 x 9. Private collection. All artwork this article collection
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  • In our September 2006 issue, we explored how Sharon Will gets a handle on color. In this Online Exclusive gallery, we present more of her pastel pieces ( a couple of oils) illustrating her mastery of hue. Wild Daisies, pastel, 11 x 8 3/4. Cosmos in Bloom
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  • Maintaining a distinctive value structure is at the core of Joann Ballinger's pastel instruction--and her own paintings. by Lynne Moss Perricelli In both her teaching and her own pastel paintings, Joann Ballinger emphasizes the importance of a distinctive
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  • Like many artists accustomed to working with opaque paints, Jamie Wyeth prefers to use combinations of water-soluble materials rather than just transparent watercolor. He finds that layers of gouache, ink, graphite, acrylic, and watercolor allow him to
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  • Artists from around the country weigh in on how they go about framing their pictures, as well as how they sort out the cost of doing so with their galleries and clients. by John A. Parks The frame around a picture can make or break a sale and, as most
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