Odilon Redon (1840-1916) was a French painter, draughtsman, and printmaker, one of the outstanding figures of Symbolism. Until he was in his fifties he worked almost exclusively in black and white—in charcoal drawings and lithographs. In these he developed a highly distinctive repertoire of weird subjects—strange creatures, insects, and plants with human heads and so on, influenced by the writings of Edgar Allan Poe. He remained virtually unknown to the public until the publication of J. K. Huysmans’s celebrated novel A rebours in 1884; the book’s hero, a disenchanted aristocrat who lives in a private world of perverse delights, collects Redon’s drawings, and with his mention in this classic expression of decadence, Redon too became a figurehead of the movement. During the 1890s he turned to painting and revealed remarkable powers as a colorist that had previously lain dormant. Much of his early life had been unhappy, but after undergoing a religious crisis in the early 1890s and a serious illness in 1894–5, he was transformed into a much more buoyant and cheerful personality, expressing himself in radiant colors in visionary subjects, flower paintings, and mythological scenes (the chariot of Apollo was one of his favorite themes). He showed equal facility in oils and pastel and after 1900 he carried out a number of large decorative schemes. His flower pieces, in particular, were much admired by Matisse, and the Surrealists regarded him as one of their precursors. By the end of his life he was a distinguished figure, although still a very private person.
The Pastel Guild of Europe has announced the winner of the monthly challenge “Get Dusty”. The theme for September 2010 was colored glass. Marie-France Oosterhof is living in the homeland of pastel art – France. She studied pastel with the Société des Pastellistes de France – particularly with David Hervelin and Alain Bellanger, and she studied oil painting at the Belgian school of Béatrice Cols. Born in a cosmopolitan family, Marie-France has traveled the world over and she is inspired by those faraway countries as well as her local surroundings of Provence. You can read an interesting interview with Marie-France in the October issue of the Pastel Scribbler.
Penelope Milner is a well established and distinguished artist who has produced a diverse range of work in a variety of mediums. However she has tended to work more with pastels and has exhibited both with the Pastel Society in London and at the Society de Pastellistes in Paris. Penelope is a member of the French Pastel Society and was awarded the great honor of “Maître pastelliste” in 2009. She was recently featured in the Special Pastel Edition of the French Magazine “Pratique des Arts”.
Penelope offers pastels courses in landscape and portrait technique from her studio in Catus, France. Here is how Penelope describes her work:
“Light has always been of primary interest in my work. Often the sky is merely suggested; reflected in water or in tarmac or in the violet cliffs when the sun is low. In the market scenes I am attracted to the deep reds and oranges which reflect through the parasols and cast their light on everything around. I often choose subjects which allow me to exploit this love of reflected colour; water, ice and polished surfaces. In my more recent pastels I am exploring the reflections of artificial light where the pavements are wet with rain. I am also becoming interested in conveying the sense of figures in motion. In these paintings shapes are vague and hard to decipher. People merge into the shadows forming solid or broken shapes.”
Claude Texier is a very known pastel artist from France where she has been regarded as a “Master Pastelist” since April 2000. She was born in Morocco, where she spent her first twenty years. Since 1994 she has been focused mainly on the art of pastel. In October of 2006, she has been elected as a Signature Member of the Pastel Society of America (PSA) and is now recognized as a PSA Master Pastelist. Her work has won numerous awards and has been published in many art magazines.