Passion for pastels

von Liebig exhibit celebrates resurgence of pastels

Get a glimpse into the brilliant beauty of pastel artwork at the Southwest Florida Pastel Society’s “May’s Marvels” exhibit at The von Liebig Center. The exhibit celebrates the ociety’s 10th anniversary and the success of its continuing mission to stimulate the creation of pastel works, promote pastel artists in professional growth and success, share instructive programs and activities that benefit pastel artists and educate the public about the aesthetic and creative values unique to pastel work.

“People often thought that pastels were second-class citizens next to oil paints and water colors, but that’s not the case, said co-second vice president of the Southwest Florida Pastel Society Ruthe Sholler. "There’s been a resurgence of pastels in recent years.”

Tanya Trinkaus Glass’s passion for pastels is proof of their rising popularity. She is among the “May’s Marvels” exhibit’s featured artists, all of whom have achieved local or national recognition. One of her pieces in the exhibit, titled “Pineapple Passion,” depicts a fruiting pineapple plant. Set against a tangle of slender green leaves, the fruit is accentuated by bright shocks of red and contrasting periwinkle, highlighting the creativity and playfulness of color that pastels allow.

In addition to vivid floral works, the exhibit will showcase portraits, still life pieces and landscapes, all in a variety of hues and styles to display the diverse applications possible with pastels.

Though the pastels are most obviously visually appealing, some artists say that working with pastels is a full sensory experience that can’t necessarily be conveyed through the finished pieces.

“What I like about pastels is that you can feel your medium in your hands and you’re so close to the canvas,” said Jean McNamara, president of the Southwest Florida Pastel Society. “There’s also such a variety of colors. With oils and watercolors, you have to mix them. With the pastels, you’re working with sticks, and many artists have 300 or more. When you want a red, you want a certain one, and with pastels, that specific color likely already exists.”

Because most of the society’s members don’t own personal galleries, the “May’s Marvels” exhibit will provide both the public and society members the chance to view the works that have been created in private studios, including two pieces of Sholler’s. One is called “You Are Kidding” and depicts two Jamaican matrons sitting in the corridor of a women’s bathroom. Sholler’s second piece, “Out of the Swamp,” illustrates the beauty of the palm trees and running water of the Isle of Capri.

“It’s really pretty amazing, for a group of about 100 people, that there is so much talent,” Glass said. “Anyone who wants to come to the show, or any of our shows, really should. You’re going to see some darn good work. It’s really exciting to be part of a group of artists who are so talented.”

The reception begins at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, May 3 in the Members Gallery at The von Liebig Art Center. “May’s Marvels” will be on display through May 30. Information: www.pastelsociety.org.

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