Thursday, October 16, 2014

Yael Maimon

Alert © Yael Maimon
Name: Yael Maimon
Bio:  Yael Maimon was born in Israel in 1980. In 2003 she graduated from Bar Ilan University with a first degree B.A. in Psychology. A visit to Rome triggered her re-orientation to fine art as a career. Although largely self-taught, her art education includes studying with Israeli oil painter Amnon David Ar in 2005-6, attending Margaret Dyer's pastel workshop in France, and Eugen Chisnicean's watercolor workshop, and meeting other pastelists including Kippy Hammond and Donna Stein. Her broader artistic influences range through Vermeer, Sorolla and Sargent to Monet and Berthe Morisot.
Perhaps best known for her Cats series, Maimon is also working on a magical figurative series called Once Upon a Time and a still-life Pastry series, inspired by Paris patisserie displays. 
Although grounded in realism, Maimon's paintings are often impressionist in nature. In her work process there's always room for improvisation and spontaneity. She has participated in group exhibitions in Israel, and her work is in private collections. She was featured in the August/September 2014 issue of International Artist, where she demonstrated her working methods; and in the October 2014 Pastel Journal (she had an Honorable Mention in the 2013 Pastel 100). Other awards are listed on her website.
Maimon works from home in Ashkelon, and is represented by Bernard Gallery, in Tel Aviv.
Medium: Pastel, oil, watercolour.
Subjects: Cats; figurative.
Style: Representational, but impressionistic.
Technique: “When painting, my first reference is photos I take. My photos are only a starting point. Usually, I select one or two photos and make changes in composition and lighting. Secondly, I use quick sketches I make from observations. My third reference is memory. I just love watching my cats playing, eating, interacting, cleaning themselves and napping. Some of my paintings are based purely on specific memory scenes. My fourth most important reference is my imagination! 
I start a painting with making a rough sketch directly on my surface. After making the sketch, I jump in with colors, working all over the painting. I am building up the forms, playing with the colors, overlapping warms and cools and gradually making my way to the darkest darks. Finally, I adjust the edges and add strokes here and there to increase the visual rhythm in the painting. When I feel that I have captured the essence of my subject, I stop.”
Navigation: Simple website, with links at top of all pages.
Gallery: Oils; Pastels; Once Upon a Time Series; Watercolors.
Image View:  Thumbnails open on new page; you can scroll through, or revert to thumbnails to select. Paintings are named and dimensions given. Images may be saved. Alert is 57.6 KB, 29 x 50 cms.
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Blog: http://yaelmaimon.blogspot.co.il/ 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Colour Analysis of Pastels by Paul Centore


I wish to bring my readers' attention to the work of Paul Centore, as expressed on his pastel colour website, Colour Science for Painters, a website that applies colour science to understanding of the use of colour in painting, in particular with pastels. Paul's analysis depends on the  use of the Munsell system's concepts of hue, value, and chroma, which are fundamental to understanding colour in painting.

While the website is somewhat technical, the results Paul achieves are fascinating, and the pages on Colour Analysis of Pastels, with links to pdf documents of the work carried out on Rembrandt and Unison brands respectively give an idea of what Paul is faced with, as he intends to apply similar techniques to analysing more pastel marques.

In order to progress his work Paul requires the cooperation of keen pastel artists, in particular those who possess a comprehensive range of a particular brand. How one can assist is explained on the website - rest assured, you do not have to part with any of your precious sticks!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Lucien Lévy-Dhurmer

Regular readers of the Pastel Journal may have noticed the last page of the October 2014 issue featured Woman with a Medallion by Lucien Lévy-Dhurmer  in the Great Pastels series. This piece was a considerably abbreviated version of the original article I wrote for the Journal. Here is the complete article.

Lucien Lévy-Dhurmer was born Lucien Lévy in Algiers in 1865, to Solomon Levy and Pauline Amelia Goldhurmer.  He returned as a boy with his family to France and in October 1879, at the age of 14,  he began studying at the École communale supérieure de Dessin et Sculpture, and was accepted at the Paris Salon of 1882, well before he had finished schooling, showing a small ceramic plaque featuring the Birth of Venus in the style of Alexandre Cabanel.  From 1886 to 1895, in need of money, he began as a ceramic decorator and climbed to artistic director of the studio of Clément Massier at Golfe Juan, near Cannes on the Côte d’Azur. He became known for his experimentations with metallic luster glazes based on Middle Eastern and Hispano-Moresque pottery, and around 1892 on becoming director he co-signed his first pieces of ceramics together with Clément Massier. Meantime he continued to paint in oil and pastel, exhibiting in Paris with the Peintres de l'âme in 1894 in a show organized by the journal L'Art et la Vie. In 1895, nearing his thirtieth birthday, Lévy travelled to Venice and Florence, where the work of da Vinci and the Renaissance Masters had a profound influence on him. The trip markedly re-focused him on his earlier artistic ambitions. He returned to Paris and his art.
In Paris he settled in a studio down the road from Gustave Moreau’s in the ninth arrondissement. The Belgian poet Georges Rodenbach, through a mutual friend, soon invited the young artist to lunch; he wanted Lévy-Dhurmer to draw his portrait. The portrait, now in the Musee d'Orsay, is a testimony to the rapid friendship coloured with mutual respect which grew up between the two men. In it the poet is shown full face  against a background suggestive of  the town of Bruges in reference to the book which made Georges Rodenbach famous: Bruges-La-Morte.



Thanks to Rodenbach,  Lévy had his first solo exhibition in 1896 at the Galerie Georges Petit under the name Lucien Lévy-Dhurmer (he'd added the last two syllables of his mother's maiden name (Goldhurmer), in order to stand out from other Lévys.) He showed  a series of 24 works including 16 pastels, 2 chalks and 5 oils paintings, some of which are today among his better-known works - Bourrasque, Le Silence, Portrait de Georges Rodenbach, Eve, Mystère.  This location brought him immediate celebrity, as the gallery was known for showing only recognised artists and those with an international reputation. One critic proclaimed him “a youth, a debutant and also a master,” asking rhetorically if the artist was “Symbolist, Mystic, or Romantic.” Another critic likened him to "da Vinci, Botticelli and Memling, the ancients, the moderns…"  He also attracted the attention of artists like Émile Bernard, and Gustave Moreau. Georges Rodenbach introduced him to Pierre Loti, whose portrait he painted, with the Bosporous as the background.  "In the twilight Stamboul of Loti's portrait, I have lit little lamps today, which are reflected in the Bosporus, and which are the small trembling souls of Aziyade and Achmet," he wrote.  Loti thanked him most particularly in a letter:
"I often reproach myself that I have not thanked you enough for painting the only image of me  that will survive.”


His paintings and his style of hazy academicism  was appreciated in equal measure by the public and by other artists. Poet, critic  and resistance leader  Jean Cassou has pointed out: '[Lévy-Dhurmer's] pastels reveal an artist who can reconcile a technique of academic precision with an Impressionist vision of the world, and can thus treat his Symbolist subjects loaded with mystery.'
After 1901 Lévy-Dhurmer moved away from expressly Symbolist content, except in some representations of women illustrating the music of Ludwig van Beethoven, Gabriel Fauré and Claude Debussy, and in some landscapes, although he was already incorporating more landscapes into his work because of his travels in Europe and North Africa. Travelling in North Africa and then Turkey he made greater use of pastels, easier to carry and use when traveling, and they remained a favored medium throughout his subsequent career.

He participated in some group exhibitions, was a regular at the Salon d'Automne, and had 8 further solo shows.  After 1900 he experimented with a technique of using  diffuse restricted colours, often with a bluish tint, which he continued with up to his death, long after Symbolism had been forgotten.

His paintings and his style of hazy academicism  was appreciated in equal measure by the public and by other artists. Poet, critic  and resistance leader  Jean Cassou has pointed out: '[Lévy-Dhurmer's] pastels reveal an artist who can reconcile a technique of academic precision with an Impressionist vision of the world, and can thus treat his Symbolist subjects loaded with mystery.'
After 1901 Lévy-Dhurmer moved away from expressly Symbolist content, except in some representations of women illustrating the music of Ludwig van Beethoven, Gabriel Fauré and Claude Debussy, and in some landscapes, although he was already incorporating more landscapes into his work because of his travels in Europe and North Africa. Travelling in North Africa and then Turkey he made greater use of pastels, easier to carry and use when traveling, and they remained a favored medium throughout his subsequent career.
He participated in some group  exhibitions, was a regular at the Salon d'Automne, and had 8 further solo shows.  After 1900 he experimented with a technique of using  diffuse restricted colours, often with a bluish tint, which he continued with up to his death, long after Symbolism had been forgotten.

Around 1910, he began to explore the process of interior decorating, leading to a commission from Auguste Rateau (1863–1930), for his apartment at 10 bis Avenue Élysée-Reclus, near the Eiffel Tower.  Rateau  was an engineer who manufactured internal combustion engines and a member of the Académie des Sciences as well as an art connoisseur with a particular interest in the Art Nouveau movement. Lévy-Dhurmer, like many of his contemporaries (such as Josef Hoffmann in Austria, Charles Rennie Mackintosh in Scotland, and Frank Lloyd Wright in America,) worked as an ensemblier, conceiving interiors as "total works of art" by designing not only the architectural setting but also everything that went into them.
The Wisteria dining room room and all its contents were thus  conceived as a unified whole and were created in 1910-1914. Lévy-Dhurmer incorporated the wisteria motif throughout the room: the canvases, painted in the pointillist style, depict herons and peacocks standing in wisteria-laden landscapes; the book-matched walnut-veneered wall panels are inlaid with purplish amaranth wood representing clusters of wisteria blossoms; tresses of wisteria flowers and leaves are carved on the furniture and even stamped on the leather upholstery. The motif is detailed on the door handles, drawer pulls, and the gilded fire screen. The standard lamps represent the twisting vines of the wisteria liana.  Lévy-Dhurmer was also responsible for a number of other rooms in the apartment including two salons, a library, and a study decorated with a frieze of stylized turbines and mechanical parts. (The Wisteria dining room was purchased in its entirety in 1966 by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and is on view there in Gallery 813.)

In an article “Modern French Pastelists: L. Lévy-Dhurmer”  published in The Studio in 1906, the  critic Frances Keyzer, wrote: “A determination to master the mysteries of his art, an astonishing power of draughtsmanship. taste of a rare order, a flexible and delicate fancy, a genuine love of all that is exquisite and subtle, without any trace of affectation, a fine sense of order and harmony of line and colour — these are the qualities by which the work of this versatile genius is distinguished.”
 She continues: “His paintings and pastels are generally one-figure studies; but the significance of each picture is conveyed as much by the background and surroundings as by the figure itself. The surroundings play a special and important part in this artist's work, for they are almost invariably imaginative, or efforts of memory. In other and less able hands such a proceeding might affect the earnestness of the work, but that clearness of vision which is one of M. Levy- Dhurmer's salient characteristics enables him to reconstitute and reproduce a landscape that has impressed him. In fact, the painter not only sees again the rocks and the trees, the hills and the valleys he has admired, but the same sensations that moved him at the time are revived in him with scarcely any diminution of strength.”

Lévy-Dhurmer used pastels a great deal, the medium readily lending itself to the magic of symbolism; several of his contemporaries, particularly Fantin-Latour and Fernand Khnopff, were equally attracted by his pastel technique. He was influenced by the ideas both of Khnopff and the Pre-Raphaelites, by Puvis de Chavannes and by Florentine and German painters  of the  XV-XVI  century.  This is particularly evident in the  Femme à la médaille, 1896, Paris, Musée d'Orsay ; and in  l'Automne, 1898, Saint-Étienne).


A contemporary critic, George P. Landow, Professor of English and Art History Emeritus, Brown University, makes this observation: “Take as a point of comparison the exquisite hard-edge pastel portraits of Frederick Sandys, a late-Pre-Raphaelitesurvival, and set them next to Dante Gabriel Rossetti's Fair Ladies — single portraits at the opposite ends of Pre-Raphaelitism, the first set in bright clear light, the second in inner worlds of mood and emotion. Lévy-Dhurmer's soft-edge, often dreamy works move farther into a subjective inner world of memory, reverie, and desire.”

A great traveller, to  Italy, Spain, Turkey, Morocco, and Brittany, Lévy-Dhurmer's went through a realistic period where his works expressed simply the warm colours of nature or the curious personality of his models.  This, in the first decade of the century, was when he produced much of his best work, notably Les Aveugles de Tanger, 1901 (Paris, Musée National d'Art Moderne), and the Mère Bretonne (Musée de Brest). He then tried to fashion a synthesis between reality and his artistic intuition, but he remained above all a master of esoteric Symbolism: he preferred to evoke mysterious appearances, distant faces with a mysterious pallor, such as Le Silence, 1895, a picture that Levy-Dhurmer kept throughout his life, and one of his most fascinating works. There is no clue to identity, or location; it is timeless, devoid of context,  making it thereby both symbolic and universal. It owes something of its intensity to the use of pastel , the hatching strokes makes the whole image shimmer.

In 1899 the critic Achille Ségard likened the face to "that of a statue". He was perceptive. For although Lévy-Dhurmer was influenced by the historical iconography of silence, as expressed in the depiction of Horus, the Egyptian deity, he took his inspiration more directly from the medal sculpted by Auguste Préault for Jacob Robles' tomb in the Père-Lachaise cemetery.
Exhibited in Paris in 1896, and again at the end of 1899 and the beginning of 1900, Le Silence fascinated his contemporaries, and had a major impact on the Symbolist generation from Fernand Khnopff to Odilon Redon. It was acquired by the collector Zagorowsky in 1953, just before the artist’s death, and passed to the Bobritschew collection in 1976; the French state acquired in it lieu of death duties in 2006, and it now resides in the Musée d’Orsay.

His exquisite portraits include those of Rodenbach (1896), Pierre Loti (1896), and Natalie Clifford Barney, (1906)notorious salon hostess and daughter of American painter Alice Pike Barney.  (In 1882 Barney and her family spent the summer at New York's Long Beach Hotel, where Oscar Wilde happened to be speaking on his American lecture tour. Wilde spent the day with Alice and her daughter Natalie on the beach; their conversation changed the course of Alice's life, inspiring her to pursue art seriously despite her husband's disapproval). 
In 1914, when he was forty-nine, Lévy-Dhurmer  married Emmy Fournier, nine years his senior, who had been an editor of the early feminist newspaper La Fronde until it ceased publication in 1905. By this time he was working primarily on landscapes, both oil and pastel, in a style similar to Whistler and Monet. He died in Le Vésinet, Yvelines,  in 1953.

The painting La femme à la médaille or Mystère, ( Woman with Medal, or Mystery) was until 1972 in the collection of M. et Mme Zagorowsky.  It was accepted as a bequest to the French state and destined  for the Louvre, but it was assigned to the Musée d'Orsay, Paris, where it may be seen today. (Lévy-Dhurmer's work was amassed by art collector Zagorowsky, whose magnificent  bequest,  exhibited in March-April 1973 at the Grand Palais (Paris), was divided between the Parisian Musée d'Orsay and Petit Palais, and the museums of  Beauvais, Brest, Gray, Pontoise, Saint-Étienne and Sète.)
This painting is well named Mystère. It is done in pastel and gold leaf on paper mounted on card, 35 x 54 cm, painted in 1896 – who is the subject? What is the medal? To whom is she showing it – to a lover, a husband – a mirror? The woman is tightly dressed, almost concealed in a coat with a high collar and a scarf wrapped round her hair and lower jaw, with just her face exposed. The colours are muted - it has the simplicity of a Whistler, but we remain forever intrigued. 



Thursday, October 9, 2014

Steffi Decker

Arthur unt Lina © Steffi Decker
Name: Steffi Decker
Bio:  Steffi Decker was born in Bleicherode, Thuringia, Germany, in 1965. Now living in Wanfried, she is mainly self-taught, and worked in a variety of mediums until devoting herself to pastel in 2009. She has been studying with Patrick Devonas since 2011. She has been a member of the Pastel Guild of Europe since 2010, and Eichsfelder Kunstverein since 2014. She got an Honorable Mention in the Pastel 100 in 2013, in the Animal/Wildlife category, and was featured in International Artist issue 99, 2014.
Medium: Pastel.
Subjects: Animals.
Style: Representational
Navigation: This website is in German with translations into English and French.
Gallery: Tierportraits (Animal Portraits); Wildlife; Blumiges (Flowers); Landschaft (Landscape); Stilleben (Still Life).
View: Images may be viewed individually or in a slideshow. All are labelled with title, dimension and support. Download is possible. Arthur and Lina is 151 KB, 40 X 50 cm.
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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Bill Cone

After Lunch © Bill Cone
Name: Bill Cone
Bio:  Born and raised in California, Bill Cone studied fine art at San Francisco State, and commercial illustration at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. After working as an illustrator for many years, he began working for Pixar Animation Studios as a set designer on Toy Story, going on to subsequent projects as a Production Designer for A Bugs Life, Toy Story 2, and Cars.
While working on A Bug's Life he began using pastels to do lighting studies. Realizing pastel's inherent benefits of speed and portability, he began doing lighting studies outdoors. Working in natural light began to influence Bill’s perception of light and color relationships. 18 years later he is still pursuing the process of integrating his experiences in nature with film work.  His pastel work for Pixar has been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC, and other venues around the world, as part of the 'Art of Pixar' show.
In 2004, he organized an artist's pack trip into the Sierra Nevada back country, which has become an ongoing source of inspiration in his personal work –“visually, the qualities of light at higher altitudes, the colors of the rocks and how they respond to light, as well as the nature of water in creeks, rivers and lakes are all inspiring. Bill has explored the Rock Creek Basin, the Ansel Adams Wilderness and the Sequoia National Park in his search for painting locations.
Several of his Sierra trips have been covered in Plein Air magazine.
His work has appeared in the Pastel Journal on several occasions, including a feature piece in the August 2013 issue, when he was the cover artist.
A member of the California Art Club, Bill's landscape work has been exhibited in various galleries and venues in California over the last 12 years, including the CAC Gold Medal show. Since 2009, Bill has had 4 solo shows at the Studio Gallery in San Francisco.
Bill currently teaches several workshops a year, one in the Sierra Nevada, and several in the Pt. Reyes National Seashore. Because of his dual career path, Bill began teaching periodic classes about the effects of natural light at work, to get computer artists who were lighting scenes on computers out of their offices to 'light shots' in nature, so to speak.  Bill teaches a 12 week class at the Animation Collaborative. This is not a pastel workshop, it is a class that focusses on developing and orchestrating a light- and color-based plan for film.
Ediza Boulder © Bill Cone
Medium: Pastel
Subjects: Landscape
Style: Representational
Technique: "When I first started seriously trying to do lighting studies with pastels on the movie, A Bug's Life, back in the mid-90's, I tried working on black Canson paper, as my inspiration for this, Ralph Eggleston, the Art Director of Toy Story, had done the same. However, I found in short order that I could not put down enough color to overcome the effects of the black ground, as Ralph could do so beautifully, so I went looking for other, less 'extreme' color choices. I quickly settled on the color  called 'Twilight', as it was a middle value, and the violet grey tone seemed to be harmonious with shadows and atmosphere in natural light, or at least the kind of light I was attempting to portray in my studies…" In terms of working methods, if Bill has the time to spare on location, he begins with several pencil sketches hat reveal a subject’s potential. He recommends preliminary scouting and sketching on the first day so that one can better schedule your remaining time in the field.
"As I became more interested in working out of doors, the pastels came with me on summer vacations to Oregon and Canada, and I incorporated the color Tobacco, a rich, warm brown, in my paper arsenal to allow for the colors of lakes, rivers, and streams I was studying. That is my basic history with the use of those two colored papers over the last 18 years, though I have explored, and used, other colors."
Pond Boulder © Bill Cone
Navigation: This website is a blog. As such, it is an intelligent and literate demonstration of the art of plein air pastels by a master of the medium. The blog attracts many comments and responses and is a pleasure to read.
Gallery: Scroll down the blog
Image View: Images are posted sequentially on the blog and may be downloaded, Dimension is a not always given, but there are enough visual clues to guess the format.
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Thursday, May 29, 2014

Oliver Kohls

Anse de Sainte-Croix II © Oliver Kohls
Name: Oliver Kohls
Bio:  Oliver Kohls trained as a naval officer training, achieved a masters degree in politics and international studies and spent many years at sea in the German Navy. As an artist he is self-taught, studying the techniques of the old masters in museums in Berlin, Munich, London, Paris and Amsterdam. Heavily influenced by the Impressionists he is evolving from a realistic approach towards a more free and impressionistic style.
In May 2010 he was accepted as a member at the Pastel Guild of Europe and in 2014 he became a Signature Member of the Pastel Society of America. His work was featured in the June/July 2104 edition of International Artist, No 97.
Medium: Pastel.
Subjects: The sea  - as I was posting this, Google were celebrating the life and work of Rachel Carson, and reminded that I once read books The Edge of the Sea, The Sea Around Us, and Under the Sea Wind – titles that perfectly sum up Oliver’s subject matter.
Style: Highly realistic but evolving. "Pastel seems to me the most appropriate way to express my artistic feelings and motions. I enjoy the mixture of drawing and painting while I am able to use both hands and fingers. I love the way a painting evolves and the constant dialogue between intention and pigments applied."
Navigation: This website is available in German and in English versions. It is clean and navigable – as is appropriate for a sailor-artist.
Gallery: Portfolio
View: Images enlarge in a viewer and may be scrolled. All are labelled with title, dimension and support. Download is not possible on the website without using a screengrab, but may be achieved on Oliver’s excellent blog. Anse de Sainte-Croix II is 50x70cm.
Blog: There are many images to be viewed on Oliver’s blog, at http://kuestenbilder.blogspot.com
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Sunday, May 25, 2014

Christine Russell

Hot Shoe Shuffle © Christine Russell
Name: Christine Russell
Bio:  Christine Russell  was born and educated in London, England and having nurtured a passion for drawing and painting since childhood, embarked upon a full time painting career in 1993. Christine worked for the Royal Opera House for a number of years, both on and off stage, during which time she met and was influenced by  a theatre designer who produced a collection of exquisite designs in pastel. 
Over the years, Christine has taken on many private commissions in the U.K. and the Middle East and has been exhibited at a number of prestigious galleries. In 1996 she was invited to become a full member of the Society of Women Artists, where she has served on the Council and Exhibition Selection Panel.
For the past 11 years she has shared a studio in Gloucestershire with her daughter, Claire, a picture framer and gilder. Her time is divided into painting for exhibitions, running courses at her studio, at Marlborough College Summer School and abroad. She has travelled widely and this love of travel is combined with tutoring painting holidays in Spain, Italy, Morocco, Cuba, India and Sri Lanka. This aspect of her work was featured in the June/July issue of Leisure Painter. Demonstration pieces and articles have featured in a number of other publications: Masterstrokes, Pastel and Painting Great Pictures From Photographs (books published by Sterling Publishing inc), Who's Who in Art and The Society of Women Artists Exhibitors, 1855-1996. The Collins Artist's Sketchbook, and in The International Artist and Pastel Artist International magazines.
Medium: Pastel; oil.
Subjects: Still Life. Inspiration is drawn from a diverse range of subjects, from classical fruit, flowers and musical instruments, to sassy high-heeled shoes and modern packaging. Her motivation is always driven by the keen observation of the subtleties of light on surface texture and it is for this reason that she works directly from lovingly constructed still life sets, rather than from photographs.
Style: Highly detailed still life has become Christine’s speciality and forms the major body of her work. As an antidote to fine-detailed work, she occasionally likes to “crawl out from the end of the microscope” to paint landscapes and other subjects, often inspired by the places she has visited on her travels. These are more impressionistic and experimental. Occasionally she works in oils, preferring to use almost neat paint, often applied with a knife.
Technique: Soft pastel is her primary medium of choice, as she enjoys the immediacy and vibrancy of the sticks made from almost pure pigment. She will often apply an under-painting in acrylic ink or watercolour, which helps to establish the tonal qualities of the piece at the initial stage. This is allowed to show through in places as the picture progresses.
Navigation: Main menu remains available on top of page.
Gallery: Fruit paintings; Flower paintings; Shoe paintings; Still Life; Landscape.
Image View: Images present on each gallery page as thumbnails and do not enlarge. No indication is given of dimension.
Demo/Blog: No