Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Rachel Estrada

“Heavenly Alchemy” © Rachel Estrada
Name: Rachel Estrada
Bio:  Rachel is a native of Northern Virginia and lives in Leesburg with her husband, William.  Frequenting the National Gallery in Washington, D.C. with her three sisters when she was 8 years old is when her deep admiration for the Pre-Raphaelite artists, their dedication to excellence and her own passion for art began. Throughout high school, Rachel studied pastel and portraiture under portrait artist Patricia Rice . She briefly attended Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia where she intended to study nursing. But as she began drawing bones  she quickly returned to her first love, which has always been painting. Rachel studied classical portraiture with Lisa Semerad, Timothy J. Chambers, and in New York with master pastelist, Daniel E. Greene.  Rachel has work in private collections internationally, is a member of the Portrait Society of America, and is a member artist of Gallery West in old town Alexandria, Virginia. She also travels abroad for new inspiration and has painted a variety of scenes and subjects from her time in Israel, Ireland, and Greece. 
Medium: Pastel
Subjects: Portraits; Still Life
Style: Realistic.
Navigation: All links remain available on top of page.
Gallery: Portraits and Figures; Still Life and Floral; Reproductions; The Emerald Isle.
Image View:  Thumbnails enlarge in a viewer and may be scrolled. Download is possible. Dimension and medium is recorded. Heavenly Alchemy is 24 x 30 ins, 595 x 481, 58 KB
Blog/Demo: No

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Nicole Vasseur

“Le bord du chemin” © Nicole Vasseur
Name: Nicole Vasseur
Bio:  Nicole Vasseur was born in Bourges, France, in 1954. She taught herself the basics  of drawing, tried out oils and acrylics, before specialising in pastel.
She joined an artists’ association in Saint Florent sur Cher, in 1988, becoming President from 1997 to 2002. She is currently vice-President of this Groupe Artistique Florentais.
She has had solo exhibitions of her work in 1997 and 2002, and had shown in group exhibitions in Paris as well as in regional shows. She has won many prizes for her pastels (see website for details) and has been guest artist at Marmagne, Sancoins, la Chapelle St Ursin, at Lunery and at Lye in 2009. Holding a Diploma from the Fédération Nationale de la Culture Française, she has participated in the Festival National des Peintres et Sculpteurs de Bordeaux ; the Salon des Peintres et Sculpteurs of Nantes, the Autumn Salon of l’Ecole de la Loire at Blois ;  and at the Art and Poetry Salon of Touraine at Tours.
Nicole teaches pastel, including a session at the Université Populaire de Bourges in 2004.
Most recently Nicole’s laurels include the 2010 Grand prix du Salon des Amis de Montmartre at Issoudun ; 2012 Prix du Conseil Général at St Florent sur Cher ; Grand prix du Salon des Aix d'Angillon ; Prix de la Communauté de communes at the Salon de Pastel en Périgord, and in 2013 the Gold Medal at the 31st salon of the Val du Cher à St Victor (03) – and the 1st Prize for Pastel at the Salon des Arts Bourbonnais at Vichy.
Medium: Pastel
Subjects: Landscape, flowers 
Style: Representational.
Navigation: Website is in French. Galeries opens to a selection of themes; once chosen, one cannot move from one themed gallery to another, but must navigate via back-button or return via Main Menu which remains available at side of page.
Gallery: Galerie Paysages (Landscape) ; Galerie Fleurs (Flowers) ; Galerie Tableaux Modernes (Modern Paintings) ; Galerie Abstraits (Abstract); Galerie Divers (Various).
Image View:  Thumbnails enlarge somewhat in pop-up window and may not be saved. Dimension is stated. Le bord du chemin is 85x100 cms.
Blog/Demo: No

Monday, May 27, 2013

Peter Seltzer

“Threads 3” © Peter Seltzer
Name: Peter Seltzer, MPSA
Bio: After an early career as a schoolteacher, followed by a period running his own business,  Peter Seltzer took the plunge to being a full-time fine artists, As a result Peter is now a  Master Pastellist  of the Pastel Society of America; he is also a member of Allied Artists of America, Audubon Artists and Hudson Valley Art AssociationHis awards for his artistic achievements are too numerous to mention here; suffice it to say that he has won the Dianne B. Bernhard Gold Medal Pastel Society of America, on several occasions, and 1st place, Still Life category in the Pastel 100, 2005. 
Apart from private collectors, his paintings are in some prestigious  public and corporate collections, including the Butler Institute of American Art, Harvard University, Uniroyal Chemical International,  and American Savings Bank.
His work has been featured in the Pastel Journal in 2001, 2002, 2006 (in depth interview, June issue), 2009, 2010 and 2011; also in the Artists Magazine, 2002, 2011, and American Artist, 2004, and 2007. Peter has also been showcased in a number of pastel books, including Best of Pastel 1996, 1998 and 2006; and the French l’Art du Pastel, 2006. He is included in Who’s Who in American Art.
Medium: Pastel; oil.
Subjects: Still lifes and Figures. 
Style: Representational in execution. Compositionally complex.
Says Seltzer: “It’s not unusual, when I hear people respond to my work, they use that word (meditation).  It’s a question I’ve been pondering for some time: You (the interviewer) recognise a quality of transcendance; other people pick up other things. It makes me wonder when an artist creates a visual theme, especially one that uses personal symbols, how important is it that the viewer understand what those symbols represent? I finally came to the conclusion that it really doesn’t matter. I’m expressing something personal, but people tend to find their own way into the piece.”
Navigation: A FineArtStudioOnline website.
Gallery: Gallery; Portraits.
Image View:  Thumbnails enlarge in viewer and may be scrolled. Download is possible.  Each image is named, with medium and dimension provided. Threads 3 is 16x20 ins., 550 x 443, 93.6 KB
Blog/Demo: No

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Brian Sauerland

“Snapped” © Brian Sauerland
Name: Brian Sauerland, PSA
Bio: Brian Sauerland received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1990 from the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design. While attending  there he began working with pastels and he has concentrated since then on paintings in pastel.  Brian is a Signature Member of the Pastel Society of America, and holds memberships in Chicago Pastel Painters, where he is Vice President and Distinguished Member (DCPP), the Midwest Pastel Society, the Wilmette Arts Guild, and the Great Lakes Pastel Society. Brian has been winning awards for his work since 1986; most recently an Honorable Mention in the 14th Annual Pastel 100; a Bronze Award in the 13th Annual Pastel 100; and a feature article in the Pastel Journal April 2012 issue.  Also the Jack Richeson & Company Award - 2011 Chicago Pastel Painters 3rd Biennial National Juried Exhibition.
Brian currently resides in Palatine, Illinois.
Medium: Pastel.
Subjects: Landscapes, still lifes and portraits. 
Style: Representational. Brian says he is influenced by many styles and periods of art including Impressionism and by various artists such as N.C. Wyeth, Edgar Degas, and John Singer Sargent. 
Navigation: A FineArtStudioOnline website.
Gallery: Winterscapes; Landscapes; Still Lifes; Portraits.
Image View:  Thumbnails enlarge in viewer and may be scrolled. They will enlarge further in a new pop-up and download is possible.  Snapped is 15x24 ins.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Alan Larkin

“Drinking the new spring wine” © Alan Larkin
Name: Alan Larkin
Bio:   Alan Larkin received his B.A. in art from Carleton College in Northfield Minnesota in 1975 and his M.F.A. in printmaking from the Pennsylvania State University in 1977. He has been teaching drawing and printmaking for the last 31 years at Indiana University South Bend. Alan spent the first 13 years of his time at IU South Bend working almost exclusively in the area of printmaking, particularly lithography. In 1991 he began to focus more on pastel drawing and oil painting.
He has won numerous prizes in regional and national competitions for his artwork including the Great Lakes Pastel Society Award at the 29th Annual Exhibition of the Pastel Society of America in 1999 and the Best of Show award at the 75th Annual Hoosier Salon Exhibit in Indianapolis. His works are in numerous private collections including the corporate collections of Pillsbury, NIPSCO, and Lincoln Life Insurance Companies. He is represented by the Castle Gallery in Fort Wayne, Indiana and the Spurious Fugitive Gallery in South Bend. Articles have been written about him in both American Artist Magazine and the Pastel Journal.
Medium: Pastel; Oil; Lithography
Subjects: Portraits; Figurative.
Style: Representational.
Navigation: Navigation is straightforward. There is no content in the About the Artist link, other than the 2009 promise of “coming soon”. How hard can it be to cut and paste something from Google and save one (me!) the search?
Gallery: Complexities (One pastel); Contemplations (medium not mentioned); Dressing up (13 pastels); Games (8 pastels); Illuminations (2 pastels); Interludes (Oils only); Interventions (3 pastels); Myths and Metamorphoses (5 pastels); Premonitions (lithographs); Reveries (4 acknowledged pastels); The Small World (medium undeclared).
Image View:  Thumbnails enlarge in Flash viewer; information is generally (not always) provided on medium and dimension. Download is not possible.  Drinking the new spring wine is 20 ins square.
Demo/Blog: No. 

Al Zerries, RIP

“Horse Race” © Al Zerries

Name: Al Zerries
Bio:  Al Zerries was born in New York City, and graduated from Pratt Institute with a major in advertising. After graduation, he served in the Army as a 1st Lieutenant, Airborne and Ranger qualified. After his military service, he worked for over twenty years as an art director, TV producer, and creative director at a number of Manhattan ad agencies. He also taught advertising at the School of Visual Arts.
In the mid-nineties, Al began to paint -  he studied with Burton Silverman 1998-2000.  Since he began showing his work in 2001, he was in over 225 national and international exhibitions, with his paintings winning awards in over half those events. His work was honored with 15 Best In Show awards. Continued acceptance earned him the status of Elected Member or Signature Member in more than 30 distinguished societies, including the American Artists Professional League; Audubon Artists, Incorporated; Degas Pastel Society; the Watercolor U.S.A. Honor Society; the American Pastel Society; and numerous regional art groups.
Al’s work appeared in the pages of the Pastel Journal, December 2008; and also in The Artist’s Magazine and Watercolor Artist.
Al was the victim of a hit-and-run in February,  2009.
Medium: Pastel; Oil
Subjects: Portraits; Figurative.
Style: Representational.
Navigation: Navigation is straightforward.
Gallery: Watercolors; Oils; Pastels.
Image View:  Thumbnails enlarge on new page; no information is provided on dimension. Download is possible.  Horserace is 600 x 329, 44 KB
Demo/Blog: No. There is a tribute to Al on YouTube .

Monday, May 6, 2013

Brian Cobble

“310 – W 7th” © Brian Cobble

Name: Brian Cobble, PSA
Bio:  Brian Cobble was born in 1953, in Ohio. He got his BFA in 1975, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, and in 1977 his MFA from Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas. He attended the  Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Skowhegan, Maine in 1977.  Although his training was chiefly in oil painting, Brian fatefully turned to pastels  when oil paints began to irritate his eyes, pleased and surprised at what he could achieve with them.
Brian had his first solo exhibition in 1978, and ever since has had numerous solo and group shows, garnering many awards along the way. In the last decade he has been awarded First Place, Art Spirit Foundation, Dianne B. Bernhard Gold Medal Award in the 31st Annual Open Juried Exhibition for Pastels Only, Pastel Society of America; he was named Master Pastelist, by the  PSA in 2006;  he won the Pastel Journal Grand Prize Award in the 2007 Pastel 100; and in 2008 he was awarded First Place, Twelfth Juried Exhibition: Web Show, International Association of Pastel Societies. He was the Juror for Landscape and Interior in the 2012 Pastel 100; his evaluation of art typically begins with a sort of “gut reaction” - stating that “If you’re jealous of it, it’s probably good”.
Brian’s work has been featured in numerous publications, from American Arts Quarterly, through Southwest Art, the Pastel Journal (April 2006 and April 2008), Dallas Arts Review, the Artist’s Magazine, and American Arts Quarterly.
Apart from private and corporate collectors, Brian’s work can be seen in such varied public collections as the El Paso Museum of Art, El Paso, Texas; the Museum of Fine Arts, Santa Fe, New Mexico; the Columbus Museum, Columbus, Georgia; and the Tyler Museum of Art, Tyler, Texas.
To learn more about the art of Brian Cobble, one can do no better than read the two essays on his website. There is little point in my rehashing them here – read the originals! Brian Cobble’s own essay refers to his influences, his work ethic and his technique.
The artist  currently lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Medium: Pastel.
Technique: Brian works chiefly on Strathmore Series 500 Illustration Board or even watercolour paper mounted on board for larger works. A coat of clear gesso for tooth is followed by underpainting in oils, acrylics, or gouache, before pastel is applied.
Subjects: Landscape. According to critic Roger Winter, “If Cobble has a signature subject, and whether or not he does is, to his credit, a debatable issue, it would have to be called the built environment.”
Style: Representational. Cobbles landscapes are quintessentially American; often unpeopled; there is certainly an echo of Edward Hopper; although Cobble cites George Inness, Charles Burchfield, Maynard Dixon, Daniel Garber, Samuel Colman, among the artists who inspired him.
Navigation: Navigation is simple, straightforward.
Gallery: Pastel Gallery; Print Gallery
Image View:  Thumbnails scroll along bottom of viewer, whose large images may be downloaded;  if you click on the latter they open in a scrolling Flash viewer with no download facility.  310 – W 7th is 13 x 22 ins, 825 x 334, 274 KB
Demo/Blog: No; but read the essays.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Ellen Eagle - Pastel Painting Atelier

Artists in pastel are like any other interest group, composed of members with hugely varying backgrounds, but fiercely unified in their medium. Only they appreciate the enormous variety of expression that can be attained with what seems to the uninitiated to be fairly limited means. But when you see,as I do in my blog, the great number of individuals who pursue their art with unique vision, personal style, and devotion to a theme, exploring the medium on all manner of supports, exploring the technique, inventing, creating, always learning in the never ending pursuit of perfection.  And make no mistake about it, among contemporary pastellists there exist great artists, and great art.
So, when a new book on pastels is published, all pastellists worthy of the name prick up their ears and want to know more. We all have a library of cherished works, containing “how-to” books and glossy “best-of” – I like both, although I think the latter may well have been superseded by the website. But for sheer hands-on practical purposes, a book is needed – for techniques, recipes for pastels and grounds, anecdotes – to slip bookmarks into and to read in bed!
When Daniel E. Greene wrote his seminal book, Pastel, in 1974 it was too soon for me, but I found Alan Flattmann’s 1987 book  hugely informative and influential. The Art of Pastel Painting inspired me,  showed me how, amazed me with Alan’s paintings, and remains a firm, often consulted favorite.  I have acquired many pastel books since, and have learned much, but nothing quite matched Flattmann’s work – until now.

Ellen Eagle is in the same tradition as Flattmann – a practising artist who talks lovingly and knowledgeably about her art.  Her book is for the practising artist, and as such is divided into practical chapters, covering a little history, the materials, the techniques, the genres. There is something new to be gleaned even for the most experienced. To begin with, Ellen referenced some pastellists from history that somehow I had missed, and was able to talk about rare paintings she had taken the trouble to see.
After that, her main divisions, in logical sequence, are: Basic Materials; Advanced Studio Practices; A Look at the Genres; The Working Process; On my Easel; Display and Handling.

Basic Materials
The advanced artist might be tempted to skip this section – but hold! Have you thought of testing your colours for their lightfast qualities? Ellen has, in a simple but clever sunlight test. She demonstrates the effects of varying wet and dry marks – and marques – on differing supports. She explains the difference between many of the major brands that she uses; she shows how to sharpen those hard pastels to use in her smaller, exquisite portraits. And she shows how she likes to organise her pastel collection – I’m glad to say we are like-minded in this regard, we both make colour charts and like order to prevail in the studio!
The important topic of toxicity is discussed adequately, without fuss. Then Ellen tests  some pastels on various popular supports  - an essential part of deciding how to proceed with a project. How much tooth will you need? Will you want to wet the support at any stage? What about tone? Do you want to make your own ground? Your own pastels? Ellen knows how – she paints on her own gessoed boards.
Are you lucky enough to have space for  a studio, or are you just putting up with a painting space that could be improved? Read Ellen’s thoughts on light, ambiance, backdrops, easels, mirrors. And above all, I urge you, keep a notebook. Use it for notes on what you do, what you used. I learned this early on, and it saved me painful repetition when painting series, even though I tend to keep a sub-set of pastels aside in those circumstances. Random thoughts rub shoulders with thoughtful analysis. The progress of a painting - or not – is recorded; it’s personal, not a  literary endeavour. Just keep it legible and try not to smudge it too much with charcoal!

A look at the Genres.
I was really looking forward to this section. Ellen on Portraiture was bound to be special. If you know her work, you will realise that this artist has immersed herself in painting the human spirit; there are no trite, banal portraits in Ellen’s oeuvre. Even her smallest scale works stand out as paintings that have taken time and consideration and effort to achieve. Her subjects vary in age, gender, race, aspect, stance, dress, opinion – yes, you can see that in their faces. “My Portrait of Julie” is a case in point – a painting from a ruin at Pompeii, full of history and wisdom  – the texture, the direct gaze, the jewellery! ( It is also instructive to see what other paintings she included in this segment  - Harvey Dinnerstein’s enigmatic self-portrait with plumb line.)
It is such a privilege to read Ellen on portrait painting. This is an artist at the height of her powers, talking about what she knows and loves best. This chapter alone justifies the book. Her patience, her stillness, her empathy – all are necessary  to achieve her purpose. Read, and contemplate, and learn.
Since I work mainly in still life, I was particularly interested in what Ellen had to say about this genre, and who else was featured – my absolute heroes in this genre are Jane Lund,  Andrew Hemingway, and Dan Massad – Dan is featured here. Ellen considers still life to be portrait of items chosen out of the artist’s affection for them. This certainly gives them a personality and a value the artist must convey to the viewer. She may arrange objects, or find them ready and waiting, another facet that I am in sympathy with. Her own paintings in this genre are, well,  unexpected!

The working process is explained at length – not just the physical process but also the thought process, which is perhaps more valuable. Ellen keeps daily notes of her work, so that her diary may in form both the work in progress, and future paintings. This section also answers intellectual challenges faced by her students in the Art Students League, a clever way of expounding further on artistic problems.

Finally, Ellen talks us through work in progress on her easel, a selection of six pieces, including three portraits and three still lifes. Again, both the mental and physical progress are probed and analysed with affection and intelligence. A minor complaint in this section is that the painting of the Bee Balm is shown larger than life, and while it is easier to see its development  “à la loupe”, I would like to see the little 11.6 x 7.1 cm painting life size.

Display and handing
The book ends with a section on framing, display, and caring for pastels; and closes with an extensive list of museums world-wide where pastels may be seen – including some in the National Gallery in Dublin that I was unaware of!  
There are some small areas I might suggest could be altered in future editions. When Ellen discusses supports she refers to Canson as a paper whose tooth is rapidly filled, and this is indeed the case; but there is also Canson Mi-teintes Touch, which is a sanded paper quite different from the standard Canson, and not mentioning it might give rise to confusion for beginners.  Nor does velour get a mention, although I can quite see how Ellen would have little use for it in her practice. And after all the book is not meant to be an encyclopedia of pastel. More seriously, when Ellen writes about manufacturing one’s own pastels, she suggests the wearing of latex gloves to avoid allergic reactions from the pastels. But latex is itself prone to give rise to a very unpleasant allergic response, so it might be better to suggest vinyl gloves, or some material other than latex.

Apart from those minor caveats, I believe this book deserves to become a classic. It is a major addition to the literature, written by an experienced and sensitive artist and teacher. I shall return to it again and again, and slowly savour the advice, the wisdom and the art of Ellen Eagle.

Pastel Painting Atelier; Ellen Eagle; Watson Guptill $35.00