Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Brenda Boylan

Twilight on 23rd © Brenda Boylan
Name: Brenda Boylan, PSA
Bio: Growing up on the southern California coast, much of Brenda Boylan’s time was spent sketching outdoors as she discovered her surroundings either on the shoreline, in the desert canyons, or eucalyptus groves. She was taken under the wing of her neighbor, oil painter Robert Guise, when she was 11 years old. Brenda went on to take a Bachelor of Science Applied Art & Design degree, Cal Poly State University, San Luis Obispo, 1986. Boylan began her artistic career as a graphic designer for high profile sportswear clients such as Nike, Adidas, Columbia Sportswear, and Avia.  In 1994 she converted to a fine art career painting in pastel or oil, quickly earning her the distinction of Signature Memberships with the Pastel Society of America and the Northwest Pastel Society. She took a number of workshops in pastel with Kitty Wallis. Her biggest joy is painting in plein air including organized plein air events, as well as teaching pastel workshops. 
Her work has been displayed at The National Arts Club in New York, the Butler Institute of American Art Museum in Youngstown, Ohio, The Oregon Historical Museum, The Portland Art Museum, and the Favell Museum in Klamath Falls, Oregon. Recently, Brenda has featured in numerous publications, including the Pastel Journal, December 2014 (cover feature),  Southwest Artist Magazine August 2013, Plein Air Magazine April 2012, The Best of America Pastel Series II and she was a Featured Artist at the 2nd and 3rd Annual Plein Air Conventions in Monterey, California. Boylan was the recipient of the President’s Award in the PSA’s 2014 annual exhibition.
Medium: Pastel, Oil
Subjects: Landscape, Figurative, Still life.
Style: Representational.
Technique: For urban scenes, Boylan likes the square format, working on a 24 x 24 sheet of Wallis museum sanded paper in white. An underpainting of complementary or slightly contrasting colours underpins the many layers of pastel that follow.
Navigation: A FineArtStudioOnline website.
Gallery: Plein Air; Urban; Landscapes (Studio); Figurative; Still Life.
Image View:  Thumbnails are labelled with medium and dimension on mouseover.; they enlarge in a viewer, where they may be viewed sequentially. They may be saved. Twilight on 23rd is 24" x 24", 547 x 550, 159 KB
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Sunday, November 16, 2014

Patrick Cullen

Camel Passing, Jaisalmer © Patrick Cullen
Name: Patrick Cullen
Bio:  Patrick Cullen is a painter in oils, pastels and watercolours, known for his scenes of Tuscany, Andalucia and Southern France, in all seasons and weathers. Patrick studied at St. Martins School of Art 1972-73 before attending Camberwell School of Art from 1973-76.
Over the past number of years he has made a number of trips to India, painting and sketching in the streets and markets of Rajasthan and Gujarat, and culminating in major solo exhibitions at Indar Pastricha Fine Arts, London in 2010 and 2013 and a five man exhibition at the Tryon Galleries, London in 2013 along with Ken Howard RA, and Peter Brown.He has received numerous awards and prizes for his paintings: most recently the Chelsea Art Society Painting Award in 2012. In this same year and again in 2013 and 2014 he was a finalist for the Lynn Painter Stainer Prize.
He was elected to the New English Art Club (NEAC) in 1997.
Medium: Pastel, Oil, Watercolour
Subjects: Landscape, Portrait
Style: Representational
Navigation: Home page remains available on top of gallery pages.
Gallery: Landscapes and street scenes; Paintings of India; Portraits, figures and interiors.
Image View:  Images are presented as thumbnails, labelled with medium and dimension; they enlarge in a viewer, where they may be viewed sequentially. They may be saved. Camel Passing, Jaisalmer is 31" x 37", 587 x 500, 187 KB
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Friday, November 7, 2014

Cuong Nguyen

Ophelia © Cuong Nguyen
Name: Cuong Nguyen
Bio:  Growing up in Vietnam after the fall of Saigon, Cuong was at a young age earning extra money for his family by doing street portraits, and was accepted into Saigon's Academy of Art while still in high school. He emigrated to the U.S. in 1991, where he earned a degree in illustration from San Jose State University and established a successful career as an icon designer in Silicon Valley. He began participating as an artist at public street painting festivals, creating ephemeral artworks as large as 16' x 24' and soon established a reputation for painting lifelike portraits on asphalt. This activity brought him back to the studio to refine his techniques with more traditional media.
Cuong is a member of the Oil Painters of America and the International Guild of Realism, as well as having been awarded the distinction of Distinguished Pastellist with the Pastel Society of the West Coast. His work has appeared at the Triton Museum in Santa Clara, California, and the Haggin Museum in Stockton, California, as well as in both national and international competitions exhibiting from coast to coast. Cuong won first place in the Portrait & Figure category of the Pastel 100 in 2013, and was featured in Artists & Illustrators Magazine - October Issue, 2013. 
Cuong currently represented by John Pence Gallery in San Francisco, California.
Medium: Pastel, Oil.
Subjects: Figurative; Still Life
Style: Contemporary realism
Technique: Cuong works in both oil paints and pastels, though casual viewers may at first have trouble distinguishing the two media in Cuong's hands. Though he almost never blends his strokes, Cuong achieves a level of detail and smoothness of gradations that is unusual in pastel paintings
Navigation: This is an easy website to trawl for images. But until you enlarge them I defy you to distinguish the medium!
Gallery: Painting; Drawing.
Image View:  Images are presented in sets of eight; they enlarge in a viewer, where they are labelled with medium and dimension. They may be saved. Ophelia is 20 x 30 ins., 864 x 600, 77 KB.
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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Amber-rose Hulme

Venetian Man © Amber-rose Hulme
Name: Amber-rose Hulme
Bio:  At the age of 4, Amber-rose Hulme decided to be an artist. She persisted with her dream, being awarded the top art prize in her final year of high school. Despite early success, she went on to study genetics, gaining a Bachelor of Science (2008) in the process. After completing her degree, Amber-rose found herself drawn once again by the creative pull, and eventually she acquired a little art studio in Hampton, Victoria, which she turned it into a successful business venture, with classes highly sought after and places limited. Amber-rose’s role as proprietor of Blanc Canvas Studios allowed her to immerse herself wholly in a Fine Art career, and she has not looked back.
Amber-rose has been winning awards for her work since 2008, and has been published in Shades of Gray, and in Strokes of Genius (twice thus far).
Currently working largely in greyscale, this limited palette allows Amber-rose to focus on contrast and texture that allows for a unique story-telling ability.
Medium: Pastel
Subjects: Urban landscape; figurative.
Style: The only genuine photorealist pastel painter I have come upon.
Technique: “The majority of my works are finished off with direct mark – unblended pastel – which, when inspected closely, are seen as a series of value chunks. Viewed from a distance these discrete values are optically blended, resulting in a photorealistic image. Currently I am fascinated by the colour and texture found in the urban landscape, and the contrast created by combining greyscale and highly saturated elements in the same piece. Taking a fairly traditional medium and using it for contemporary themes and scenes is another intentional contrast, challenger the viewer to rethink the use of pastel as a contemporary art medium.”
4. Across © Amber-rose Hulme

Navigation: Links remain available on top of page.
Gallery: Of the Wall; Urban Narrative; Urban Scrawl; Reflection; PNG; The Artist
Image View:  Images open in viewer; you can scroll through the thumbnails, or play a slideshow. Paintings are named but no dimensions given. Images may be saved. Venetian Man is 12.5 x 28 ins. and 4. Across is 15 x 30 ins.
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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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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.