It was the summer of 1975 when I was first introduced to the love of my life. I’d just turned 15 andnever experienced such a rush of exhilaration. It was a journey that I happily embarked upon andnever once looked back even for one minute. My life would never the same from that day forward.Looking back I was very fortunate to have started this love affair at such a young age, an age whereI had no preconceived ideas of what to expect. It was a fresh new chapter filled with warmaffection, passion, and an unwavering devotion.
Today, that love affair with pastels is stronger than ever. They still remain vivid, pure and intense, but most of all never change as the years go by. It’s still a thrill when my fingers touch their scrumptious velvety soft surface.
I love the fact that they are always accessible to me at any given moment and best of all I can makechanges anytime without a major commitment. Pastels are always dependable; staying true totheir color once applied to a surface. They never let down me down. Never. I always know what toexpect.
Pastels can be slightly hard or buttery soft, round or square that allow for a wide range of strokes. My favorite way to work with them is to gently layer colors building up to a delicious, rich color combination, and then ever so gently moving the color around with my little finger creating magnificent effects. Plus I let them do the blending sometimes because they know exactly how to create the most beautiful results. Really there are no limitations on what they can accomplish. And don’t get me started on the colors.
Once you get a taste of the hundreds of colors it is easy to become addicted. It’s like going to a candy store and having to choose, it’s impossible to just pick just a few. Impossible. But I love you my beautiful pastels and will never stray to another medium.
The following is a letter from W. Truman Hosner to the PSWC written in 2015. It is timeless and timely since we are back at the Haggin this year, so we share it here.
I extend a sincere note of appreciation to everyone at PSWC who worked so diligently to create the Pastels USA Exhibition at the Haggin Museum in Stockton and to award juror Terri Ford for what must have been a difficult task considering the broad quality level of the work displayed. It was my honor to be accepted into an exhibition of work in a medium that I have loved and used exclusively for nearly 25 years and an even further honor to be among the award recipients.
On my “red-eye” flight into San Francisco from Detroit, I reflected on the world of pastel and how much it has evolved in those 25 years, in a large way thanks to PSWC.
Yet upon my arrival, when I found in the Haggin Museum’s permanent collection a vivid pastel by William Merrit Chase, more alive today than ever, I was reminded of a statement by Pablo Picasso.
Picasso said; “Art does not evolve by itself, the ideas of people change and with them their mode of expression.”
I thought what I was experiencing in the current PSWC exhibition at the Haggin was not an evolution of the medium of pastel, but rather an evolution of the thinking of the artists using it. Pastel in and of itself has always been a mature art form and we need only look back on the work of artists like Chase to realize it.
At the PSWC exhibit I found a group of living artists who no longer should be labeled as “pastelists”. Now they must only be properly considered in a framework of; “painters”-who chose to work in pastel.
In their work is a thinking that has evolved. They use pastel to give significance to the subjects they choose. With the language of pastel they best express their joy of the unexpected, their pleasure of discovery, and their spirits stand ajar to the possibilities of the universe.
Painting will always be more a manner of thinking than a matter of medium.
In conclusion I will share a humorous story about pastel:
I couple of years back I attended a plein air event in southern Indiana. In attendance were a number of “heavy-hitters” from the oil-painting world, very nice fellows I might add. For two evenings in a row at dinner one particular gentleman made a point of quite vociferously asking me in front of his associates, “How are your charcoalscoming?” I patiently bit my tongue by always politely replying; “Quite well, thank you.”
Finally on the third evening, when he once again asked his question, one of his associates gave me my opportunity by joining in and asking: “So, Hosner why don’t you work in oils?”
I slowly looked around the table at my new friends and smiled, and said: “Gentleman . . . why would I want to work in a lesser medium?”
There was a hardy laugh all around, and we all walked away that evening a bit closer.
This week I will be writing a letter of gratitude to Plein Air Magazine thanking them for their contribution of a Full-Page Ad as an award.
Again, -many thanks to PSWC for an exceptional exhibition!
“I don’t want to market my art. I just want to make it.” That’s a statement I’ve heard from many an artist, and I can certainly understand why. You start talking about marketing, and suddenly there’s a huge list of tasks to do, none of which are nearly as fun as standing at the easel with art materials in hand and a gorgeous subject in front of you.
But if you think marketing means engaging in a whole bunch of random activities—posting images on Facebook, sending out newsletters, entering competitions—that don’t seem to lead anywhere, think again. Marketing is about connecting with the people who can help you achieve your art-related goals, and marketing is absolutely essential. Here’s why.
According to Matt Oechsli, author of The Art of Selling to the Affluent (which is a book I strongly recommend), people with means—the people who are most likely to purchase your artwork—no longer make impulse buys. They used to do that up until 10 years ago, but the days of someone walking into a gallery and buying a $2,500 painting, or even a $250 painting, just because they like it are gone.
Today, the buying-and-selling process only happens in the context of a relationship. People only buy things from people or organizations with whom they feel they have a solid, trusting business connection. Additionally, many affluent buyers turn to friends and family members to recommend trusted business partners. In other words, the trust relationship is the foundation for all business transactions, including the sale of art. These days, sales are the outcome of a deliberate process, not a stroke of luck or an impulsive decision.
And so, if you want to be on the selling side of a business transaction, you first have to build trusting relationships with the people who are most likely to be interested in buying your work. And that, my friends, is the very definition of marketing. It’s not about selling. It’s about connecting.
Building a relationship with a potential collector is much like building a relationship with a potential life partner. It has to move through certain stages, otherwise it feels uncomfortable or even forced for one of the two people, which usually causes him or her to back out.
So, how can we make sure we navigate our way through the business relationship-building process in a way that creates trust? It starts with you making the initial move: making your artwork visible in as many places as possible, both online and offline. Your work will catch the eye of some people, who will in turn communicate their interest in you. They might friend you on Facebook or follow you on Instagram or sign up for your e-newsletter or e-mail list. This is their way of giving you permission to continue sharing.
From there, it becomes a little like dating, although it’s admittedly one sided. You’ll use tools like social media and e-newsletters, as well as face-to-face networking opportunities, to reveal more of your work, your personality, your characteristics, and your values to your fans and followers. You might occasionally get to see some of these qualities in them, too, but for the most part it will be you sharing who you are and what you create. The more open you are, the more trust you will build.
Every once in a while, mixed in with your ongoing “getting to know you” messages, you’ll make bolder overtures by offering specific works of art for sale. By this time, because you’ve established a trusting relationship with them, a few of your followers will respond in a positive way. Yay! A sale! But here’s the moral to that story: Although you will nurture many relationships with many fans, only some of them will blossom into artist-collector relationships.
Of course, a single sale is not the endpoint or objective of the relationship. As you continue to cultivate collectors by reaching out, expressing your gratitude, and inviting them to share your journey, they will become repeat customers and even champions for your art.
And just in case you’re wondering, all of this can happen whether you’re selling your work directly to the public or through galleries or both. Again, affluent buyers are no longer content to blindly buy from nameless, faceless artists through a middle man. They want to engage with you, so… engage!
How am I doing? Have I made a persuasive case for relationship building? Have I adequately explained how marketing activities contribute to the process? It’s a whole new world since 2008, and thankfully we have experts like Matt Oechsli to explain how we can succeed in today’s buying-selling environment.
And just as I’m encouraging you to connect with your followers, I’d like to do the same with you! Let’s connect!
In Jennifer King, you’ll find a blend of an entrepreneur’s head for business and an artist’s heart for creating. In addition to being a landscape painter, Jennifer has had a long association with art and artists. She is the former editor of International Artist Magazine, The Artist’s Magazine, and several other noted art publications. Fascinated by the business of art, she spent several years working in an art gallery, and she also returned to school to earn a master’s degree in marketing. Today, she brings all of those interests together in her own business, Connect Artist Marketing, which offers personalized marketing services specifically for artists. Learn more about her individual and monthly service packages at connectartistmarketing.com.
Life happens! Things get in the way. Kids get sick, and parents need our help. Months can go by without standing in front of our easels. And the longer the time away, the scarier it gets to pick up that pastel stick or paintbrush! Then the inner dialogue begins, and what a mean little devil that Negative Nancy can be!
So here are some things that have worked for me to get going again.
First, as corny as it sounds, physical exercises ‘opens my channels.’ It gets rid of my bad energy and lets happy and productive thoughts seep in. Of course, meditation to get yourself grounded and relaxed is another healthy direction.
When you’re ready to get in front of the easel try this simple exercise:
Pick an artist that you love. Whether it’s representational or abstract… just look at their work and decide why you like it.
Take scraps of paper; whether it’s your beloved sanded paper, or even brown craft paper. (You can always use little pieces of paper or paintings that failed and you’ve wiped down leaving a ghosted image.)
Pick up some pastels that have a palette of the person’s work you admire and consciously try NOT TO MAKE A PAINTING!
DO NOT TO COPY THE PAINTING. Just experiment with marks and shapes.
REMEMBER YOUR WARMS AND COOLS AND LIGHTS AND DARKS
Remember that a Concert Pianist doesn’t step out on stage without doing their ‘scales’, warmups and daily practice. These will be your exercises. I even took a workshop with a wonderful artist who closed his eyes in front of the class, took several deep breaths and then started painting. We need to get our brains in the right place!
Continue to work on your warm up project. And take the pressure away, the results will never see the light of day. You are trying to find a new palette of colors that play together nicely. Then look at your values: lights and darks and warms and cools. Try colors you would never reach for and marvel at the interactions!
Have you ever noticed when you’re painting that your stomach goes up in a knot! Be aware of that and make sure you relax and breathe! It’s ONLY PAPER!
Well, last month, I went into a panic. Why? Because all the ‘Shows’ have their entry dates coming up and I had NOTHING to enter. I hadn’t painted since October! Is it smart to paint for shows? I cannot think of anything worse. What crazy pressure! But then again…there is also nothing more motivating.
So, from January 2ndthrough January 27thI painted all day, every day. I came up with a lot of junk., or as a very kind friend said, “They’re not ready for ‘Prime Time’.” Twenty-seven paintings in twenty-five days. Just like fashion photographers…I took a lot of shots hoping somewhere in the mix there would be something worthwhile. Out of all that work came about five paintings that were ‘worthy’ of entering. Every night, I was dreaming about what I’d do next, different ideas, unique palettes, how I might underpaint… you get it. I was on a roll to the point that I could produce two paintings a day! In the GROOVE!
This month, with teaching workshops and gallery exhibits, I’m torn away from my easel yet again, so I have to start my practice of not making paintingsall over again.
Climbing out of a rut can seem impossible, but I can assure you that if you try to just Warm Up, Remember Your Warms and Cools and Lights and Darks, and Breathe, and you’ll get out of your rut and into the GROOVE in no time!
“There are only 3 colors, 10 digits, and 7 notes; it’s what we do with them that’s important.” Jim Rohn
Values are the unsung heroes of great paintings; they are the foundation that color sits upon. Understanding how a range of values affects a painting is easier to understand if you compare values to musical notes. I think of the lighter values as high notes and the darker values as low notes. Just like in music the note by itself is unimportant. It is the intervals between the notes that give them context.
Usually value scales are numbered but I like to think of them as a Do, Re, Me scale.
Musicians need to know the range of notes their instrument will play: Artists need to know how light and how dark their palette will go. Can your palette play all the range of notes you need for your painting? If a painting is all one value it is all one note. You cannot make music with one note, but you can with three. Beautiful design and form can be painted using three values.
This watercolor by John Singer Sargent is made up of three value masses, light, midtone, and dark.
A value range should describe design, light and form, which guides the viewer’s eyes through the painting. Values that do not work are equivalent to a musician playing off key. It is unpleasant to hear notes in a song that are off key. It is confusing to look at a painting where the values are not cohesive.
Compare the two copies of “Girl with a Pearl Earring” with Vermeer’s original to see how important an understanding of value range is.
You can key a painting like you can key music. High key paintings have a value range from light to midtone. Low key paintings are midtone to dark value range and paintings like “Girl with a Pearl Earring” have a full value range from light to dark.
“The White Stuff” is an example of a high key painting. I think of this as a series of high musical notes together- think early Joni Mitchell.
“Goodnight Moon” is an example of a low key painting- think of the first verse of “Old Man River” by Paul Robeson.
If you struggle with values try comparing them to musical notes to fine tune your understanding of their importance in painting.
PASTELS USA Chairman Jerry Boyd did his best Norman Rockwell impersonation at the Crocker Museum in Sacramento. I wonder if those who saw him pose realized that Jerry is such a talented artist in his own right!
Jerry posted on Facebook:
Here I am at the Crocker Museum in Sacramento this afternoon pretending to be Norman Rockwell. If I lost the beard and mustache, procured a pipe, and shed about 50 pounds…I’d look just like him don’t you think? As my granddaughter Sage pointed out, (and something I noticed from the very beginning) in the original painting, why does the image on the canvas appear to be a charcoal drawing when he’s using a brush and palette of oil paint? My only explanation is that the image catches him as he’s about to make the first stroke of paint. I’m still wondering about his choice of brush in his painting because it appears to be a soft watercolor brush.
Our 33rd Pastels USA exhibition is set for next May at the Haggin Museum, and we have secured a commitment from three artist/judges as the “Jury of Selection”. The Awards Judge will be Dawn Emerson of Terrebonne, Oregon.
The Jurors of Selection will be: Debora L. Stewart of Clinton, Iowa, Gary Huber of Buffalo, Wyoming, and William Truman Hosner who lives in Ferndale, Michigan.
Dawn Emerson won our Pastels USA Best of Show in 1997 with a painting called “Horses” (a recurring theme in her paintings) She has authored a book called “Pastel Innovations”.
Debora L. Stewart does beautiful abstract and very impressionistic works, and I thought it would be refreshing to have a Juror of Selection with a different vision and direction than the majority of us.
Gary Huber is a landscape painter who was one of the artists featured in our magazine/show catalog at this year’s exhibition.
William Truman Hosner is a familiar name to most of us as not only a high profile nationally known artist who is equally adept at portrait/figure and landscape works, but has supported our shows consistently. William was our first three-time Pastels USA Best of Show winner.
Allow me to highlight two new rules for the upcoming show which you will note when you read the prospectus.
For those of us who work most often from photos, we will require the artist to have taken their reference photos themselves. Many societies such as PSA are going that direction and the reasoning is that the artist experiences the subject for themselves and composes what they want to emphasize in the viewfinder or screen of the camera. There are “copyright-free” photo sites where you can purchase essentially professional quality photos for reference. While this, like many other rules, is dependent on the honesty of the artist, it is overall a good idea to use this practice so that you may enter your piece in any exhibition with a clear conscience.
The second rule is “less”, rather than “more” restrictive. The age of a painting has always been an issue for most societies and so we are expanding from a maximum age of two years to three years for a painting. This will help with those who can’t enter the same painting in overlapping shows or who get worthy paintings eliminated by our “one painting per artist” rule in Pastels USA. Two years from when you do a painting goes by awfully quickly it seems.
We are pleased to announce our 2018 Scholarship winner. We had numerous very talented school aged artists submit their applications. The decision for the PSWC Board of Directors was very difficult.The balloting did come to a definite consensus of whom our scholarship should be awarded to for this year. Paige Baldwinson is our scholarship winner.
Paige is currently a high school senior and is attending Archbishop Mitty High School in San Jose, California. She stated that she is carrying an exceptional 3.94 grade point average and has been on the honor roll all four years. She informed me that she intends to pursue a degree in fine arts and then obtain employment utilizing her art education. Paige plans to attend University of California at Santa Barbara’s art college. She is a wonderful addition to our successful graduates who have won our scholarship competition in previous years.
Her extracurricular activities include participation in the Cal North Olympic Development Soccer Program, Varsity Soccer at Archbishop Mitty High School and Competitive Club Soccer traveling team for eight years. She was involved with a Habitat for Humanity Home Building Project, tutoring children in South San Jose, and at Full Circle Farm providing food for the needy. She has also taken art classes including a UCLA Summer Art Program and summer art programs at her high schools in 2013 and 2014.
She stated that “For as long as I have been drawing seriously, I have been interested in drawing people.I was initially drawn to portraits because of my fascination for the human face….what began as a hobby has now turned into a driving passion that I hope to develop into a career. I am interested in realism and constantly improving my accuracy and proportions over time.” She works mainly in charcoal and pastel.
The board wants to thank Sabrina Hill, a PSWC board member, for contacting Paige’s art instructor, Sandra Jones, and informing her of this scholarship opportunity. A special thanks to Sandra Jones for passing this information on to a very talented student artist.
This year I sent out the scholarship information to 57 high schools, a junior college and universities within Stanislaus County. I also included schools in Sutter and Placer County in California as well as schools in Chandler and Mesa Arizona. Next year I plan to focus on the above schools as well as schools in Sutter, Siskiyou and Trinity Counties.If you are in another county, please seek out students in your area and inform them of our scholarship.
Our scholarship is offered on an annual basis to graduating seniors in high school, junior college students and up to a junior in a four year university or an accredited art school. Our annual final application acceptance date is March 31 of each year.Keep this in mind if you observe a talented student for our next year’s scholarship opportunity.