This is the portrait of Mary Cassatt made by Eduard Degas. Not much is known about Mary Cassatt’s relationship with Degas, as she burned all their correspondence before she died. However, it is generally assumed that the two were lovers, although nothing can be proved. What is certain is that the two painters had a close, sometimes turbulent, relationship over a period of forty years that ended with Degas’ death in 1917. Degas’ difficult nature often lead to periods of estrangement that could only be ended when mutual friends brought the two together again. It must have taken all Mary’s reserves of diplomacy to deal with Degas’ sometimes cruel nature.
Mary Stevenson Cassatt (1844– 1926) was an American painter and printmaker best known for her portraits of children and her groupings of mothers and their children. She studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. The faculty at the Academy encouraged students to study abroad. In 1865 Cassatt approached her parents with the idea of studying in Paris. Initialy they objected the idea but afterwards relented and allowed her to go. She lived much of her adult life in France. Her first exposure to French artists Ingres, Delacroix, Degas, Pissarro, Corot, and Courbet was likely at the Paris World’s Fair of 1855. Later she exhibited among them.
Edgar Degas and Mary Cassatt shared a very unique and intimate relationship. Both rejecting the conservative artistic directions, Cassatt’ and Degas’ restless intelligence drew them together. They inspired and facilitated each others’ artistic careers. Cassatt even proclaims “the first sight of Degas’ pictures was the turning point in my artistic life”. In fact, it was the sight of Degas’ pastel work that turned Cassatt onto pastel for the first time. Supporting Degas’s work Cassatt bought one of his pastels and brought it back to home thus making it the first Impressionist artwork to come to America. The way in which they influenced each other is apparent through their choice of subjects and the materials and techniques they used. Initially Cassatt copied Degas pastel work, but soon Degas was duplicating her innovative techniques of combining pastel, gouache and metallic paint on paper mounted on canvas, as seen in Cassatt’s “At the Theater” (1879).
She was an unconventional woman in her time, not marrying or having any children of her own, but preferring to travel and live a bohemian life alone in Europe. As a woman she succeeded in the primarily male dominated world of art and became a member of the Impressionist circle. She was the only American to have her work shown at the independent exhibitions of the Impressionists.
Interesting clip of her work you can find on youtube.
After you read all about Mary you can have fun taking the art quiz.
If you are following this blog then you have heard many times about Deborah Secor. Deborah is a very resourceful artist and is always willing to share her knowledge. Most recently, she published a free book about pastels in the form of a blog called Landscape Painting in Pastels.
Deborah received a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Art in 1979 and her work has been in many galleries and shows. She studied for several years with Master Pastelist Albert Handell, personally considering this to have been her ‘advanced degree’ work. Deborah is one of the founders and the first President of the Pastel Society of New Mexico and holds Signature Membership in the society. A regular contributor to The Artist’s Magazine, The Pastel Journal and other publications, Deborah has published two instructional DVDs devoted to pastels. The first, Get Started in Pastels: Deborah Secor Paints the Landscape (see preview) is one of the best selling DVDs released by F&W Media. Her second DVD is about Painting Outdoor Shadows in Pastel (see preview). As a regular contributor on the WetCanvas Soft Pastel forum, Deborah has made a numerous demos and tutorials. Some of the best are now available in The Soft Pastel Learning Center.
French artist Partick Martin was born in 1951 in Pavillons-sous-Bois near Paris. He received multidisciplinary education at the “Ecole Superieure des Arts Appliques et des Metiers d’Arts”. Today he is a professional pastel artist and teacher. He is also a master member of the Societe des Pastellistes de France. On his bi-lingual website Patrick is providing very good step by step demonstrations.
Alicia Sotherland is a self taught artist from Escondido, CA (USA) who began painting in 1999. Having been a child of an artists, she was surrounded by the world of art and encouraged when she would draw. However, Alicia never thought about being an artist until the fall in 1999 when she decided to make a career change. Having drawn mostly faces as a child, it seemed natural for her to begin with the portrait. By her own words “I was never told I should not start my painting career by doing portraits, so I approached my portraits without fear or preconceived ideas of how to paint or this is the way it must be done! I figured out basically what works best for me, and I did it that way.”
Alicia doesn’t use preliminary drawings, thumbnails or grids. All parts of the painting look connected, the background is part of the hair, the hair, part of the forehead and so on. Her paintings look very blurry with a couple of well chosen sharp edges.
Alicia has recently release four video clips where you can see her studio and watch her doing a portrait from a photo. I find the 3rd part to be the most informative and you can find it in my video collection.
I’m starting to present artists who paint Winter landscapes in soft pastels. Just to make it clear, since the Winter looks different in southern California than the one in Sweden I’ll be presenting only snow winters. The gallery with the links to the artists will be on the left column. The paintings that were so far presented should end up in the January gallery as soon as I figure out how to do that in the WordPress.
There are couple of demos and instructions how to paint snow and winter landscapes and I’m recommending the WetCanvas class by Deborah Secor and demos by Tom Christopherdemo1demo2demo3.
Mary Anne Cary is a soft pastel artist living in Maine. She has a BFA in Visual Design from Southeastern Massachusetts University and she has enjoyed a career as a Graphic Artist for more than 10 years. While raising a family, she continued to take art classes in various mediums, focusing mostly on pastel painting and black and white photography. With her children now grown, she is finding that the time is right to make a full-time commitment to her art, and she has discovered a passion for pastels.
Mary Anne finds the creative process to be both exciting and meditative. Her bold strokes and fresh pastel colors of grass and flowers give the feel of almost abstract painting. She draws her inspiration from the coastal beauty of Maine. Mary Anne’s work has been included in invitational and juried shows and you can follow Mary Anne’s work at her blog almost daily.
Whether you are a blooming artist exploring the world of soft pastels or you are an established master pastelist, here is a great lesson, or better to say many great lessons which can open up a new way of painting, or it can enrich your style. This online lesson was given by Charlotte Herczfeld on the WetCanvas.com forum and was commented by many artists. The post thread is very long and this index will help you find your way through a lot of useful information. The lesson in that thread is based on the work and teachings of Susan Sarback. If you don’t know Susan it is enough to say that the International Artist Magazine named Susan one of the Master Painters of the world. To learn more about her teachings I recommend you read her book Capturing Radiant Light and Color in Oils and Soft Pastels.
The Visual Art Guide is hosting websites for many artists and they publish really nice books. They have recently issued book “The Best of America Pastel Artists – volume II” which you can browse online and even download for free. The shorter presentation of the book can be found here and you can enjoy some fantastic soft pastel works.
If you like those books you can enter one of the competitions and if you are chosen among top 200 artists you can be published and get 2 pages in the book.