Pastel Artists Canada (www.pastelartists.ca) is pleased to announce the mounting of our 24th annual open juried exhibition at the Federation Gallery, May 12 through 24, 2015. Juror Andrew McDermott, SFCA, PSC will select the very best in pastel paintings from submissions across Canada and beyond, and stage a pastel painting demonstration in the gallery from 3-5 pm on the day of our opening reception (Thursday May 14; reception from 6-8 pm, all welcome).
Sometimes known as “soft” or “dry” pastel to differentiate it from “oil” pastel, this medium is as old as the use of earth pigments to render prehistoric animals on cave walls, and ranks among the most permanent of art materials. Pastels are almost pure pigments—the same as are in watercolour, acrylic, or oil paint–mixed with only a little binder to hold together in stick form. Although the pastel sticks may look like chalks, they are a far cry from the pale, impermanent dyes used for your child’s sidewalk creations! Today’s pastel artists work with highly-pigmented pastels on specialized sanded surfaces to create vivid and lush works that resemble oil paintings in their opacity and saturated colours. So please avoid insulting your local pastel artists—never call them “chalk pastels”!
Pastel has been a very popular medium down through the ages—think of Edgar Degas’ highly textured ballerinas and bathing women, for example—but had fallen somewhat out of use in the past century until a recent renaissance. Now, with multiple active pastel societies around the world, a biannual convention (the International Association of Pastel Societies/IAPS) and an influential magazine of its own (The Pastel Journal), the pastel medium is emerging as an innovative fine art medium once again. People are falling in love again with pastels’ intensity of colour and shimmering quality.
New processes and technologies have expanded the range of pigments and supports, and ensured their permanence and longevity, making pastels highly collectible. Artists new to pastel are delighted by their forgiving nature and their capacity for diverse mark-making. Pastels can be used to draw (leaving the surface support visible) or paint (covering the entire surface), and are responsive to the impulse of the individual artist to create a range of effects from broad fields of scintillating colour through to exquisitely detailed renderings of the most intricate objects. Whatever your preference– landscapes, figures, animals, still life, or abstract– pastels can fulfill the vision.
We hope you’ll stop by and view this collection of the best of this year’s pastels, hosted by the only active national pastel society in Canada. Expect to be surprised and captivated by the quality, variety, and sheer loveliness of this medium! And consider joining our society for camaraderie, inspiration, skills development, and recognition. Come and discover the beauty of pastels!