Some of Edouard’s Manet well known oil paintings are ”Déjeuner sur l’herbe”, at that time considered scandalous, and Olympia (painted 1863), the most shocking work in 1865 presented in Salon. Less known is the fact Manet has used pastel medium in last 3 years of his life when he was forced by paralysis to take to a wheel chair.
Pastel Portrait of Irma Brunner is one of a numerous painted by Manet at that time. He found the pastel medium easier for him to manage than oil, and as result his large oil paintings at this time were few.
Manet not only used pastel medium as it was more convenient, but also because it permitted him to experiment with his theories in the rendering of light and shade to obtain a general effect of luminosity. He did not, as did Degas, depend so much on the individual strokes of the pastels, but sought rather for broader masses of juxtaposed color to produce his effect. The great majority of Manet’s pastels portray beautiful women, women from all stations of society. These delightful portraits of women deservedly rank with the finest work that Manet produced and reveal the immense variety of the artist.
Although Manet was a friend with several French Impressionists and shared some of their ideas and techniques, he has formally never become their member nor did he exhibit with them.
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.
Bonnie Zahn Griffith is a landscape artist working mostly in pastels and acrylics. Her work is generally representational depicting the northwest US and she lives in Washington. I like Bonnie’s work in general and it was a pure joy following the development of the 100 more or less same paintings. Here you can see my selection of close to 50 painting, and if you click on the image you will see it in higher resolution. This collage is the invitation to visit Bonnie’s blog, enjoy each individual painting together with other works and get inspiration for you own work and artistic development.
Whistler was an American-born, British-based artist. At age 21 he sailed to Europe after committing himself to become an artist. Among the others he met Edgar Degas in Paris whose friendship was very important to him as an artist. He emerged as an advocate of Aestheticism, movement that promoted the unity of art and design with credo “art for art’s sake”. Striving to make harmony between shape, color, light and line and finding a parallel between painting and music, Whistler titled many of his paintings “Symphony”, “Harmony”, and “Nocturne”. Emphasizing the primacy of tonal harmony he became one of the founder of Tonalism. Famous signature for his paintings was a stylized butterfly. The symbol was appropriate, for it combined both aspects of his personality—his art was characterized by a subtle delicacy, while his public persona was combative.
Whistler preferred to work outdoors but the unusually cold winter of 1880 made holding an etching needle or painting en plein aire with oils or watercolors impractical. Pastels, however, were an ideal medium. Whistler completed 90 pastels while in Venice, describing them in a letter to his dealer as being “totally new and of a brilliancy very different from the customary watercolor.”
In comparison to older and contemporary pastels, Whistler’s Venetian pastels were strikingly sketchy, with large areas of paper left blank. Criticized by a conservative contemporary critic as “vaguely incoherent,” the pastels are appealing to the modern eye. Whistler used color to indicate the magical effects of light on a Venice encased in winter. You can find collection of his Venice works in Whistler’s Venice book.
His most famous painting the iconic Whistler’s Mother, oil on canvas, made in 1871 is displayed in a frame of Whistler’s own design, and is now owned by the Musée d’Orsay in Paris. Upon this painting post stamp was made in memory and in honor of Mothers of America.
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.
Hilaire-Germain- Edgar Degas (1834 –1917)
I’m fully aware that every pastelist has heard about Edgar Degas, but the series about Old Pastel Masters wouldn’t be complete without the King of Pastels.
Degas is a french artist, acknowledged as the master of drawing the human figure in motion. He worked in many mediums, preferring pastel to all others. A superb draughtsman, he is especially identified with the subject of the dance but also well known for his paintings, drawings, and bronzes of both ballerinas and of race horse.
The art of Degas reflects a concern for the psychology of movement and expression and the harmony of line and continuity of contour. These characteristics set Degas apart from the other impressionist painters, although he took part in all but one of the 8 impressionist exhibitions between 1874 and 1886. Nevertheless Degas was the strongest promoter of the Impressionist group. It’s well known that he objected the name and considered himself and his compatriots “realists,” which pointed to their interest in drawing inspiration from their own environments and experiences. He was outspoken about the need for artists to join together and establish a place for themselves as proponents of a new, contemporary artistic sensibility. He organized, what is now known as, the first Impressionist exhibition and planned many of the subsequent shows but the term “impressionist” was adopted later, at the time of the third Impressionist exhibition.
As a young man, he studied at the École des Beaux-Arts and copied works of art at the Louvre. He admired the old masters, particularly Renaissance painters, and the more contemporary works of Eugéne Delacroix (1798-1863) and Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (1780-1867).
By the later 1870s Degas had mastered not only the traditional medium of oil on canvas, but pastel as well. Pastels which he applied in complex layers and textures, enabled him more easily to reconcile his facility for line with a growing interest in expressive color. Degas stated that pastels were more suitable for his delicate studies, however they also had several other advantages for him – they were much quicker to work with than paint and so were of major assistance in his experimental works. Besides traditional pastels he also used powdered pastel which, when mixed with water, could be applied with a brush. The career of Edgar Degas was a long one – about 60 years out of the 83 which he lived. He never married but his relationship with Mary Cassatt was unique and interpreted as intimate.
On the youtube you can find a lot of his works and I’m pointing to dancers which like the best.
Carole Katchen has been a professional and successful artist and author for more than 40 years. You can find her work in private and public collections, including the collection of Bill Clinton, the former president of the United States. Carole has published 17 books, which have sold over 1 million copies and she has written numerous magazine articles for Cosmopolitan, Parents and several art magazines. She is also a Contributing Editor to The Artists Magazine and a featured columnist for International Artist. Carole uses all sorts of art mediums, but most of the time she uses soft pastels. On her website you can find an article about her technique and a couple of demos.
Below are links to a some of her books available at Amazon. If you wander why I give links on the Amazon, it is because I get a 4% commission from any sales done through my Soft Pastel Store or through the provided links :).
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.
Alan Flattmann was born in New Orleans and attended the John McCrady Art School there. Alan is an exceptional artist whose work is filled with the rich imagery of the world as he sees it. For me he is one of the greatest living pastel artists. With a keen sense of history and place, he has traveled the world with his pastels, ready to let the continuity of time, tradition, and landscape speak to his imagination. Though he has gained a considerable following for his paintings of Caribbian and Mediteranian landscapes and people, Flattmann always returns home to his native New Orleans and the French Quarter for renewed inspiration. His Franch Quarter Impressions reveal the artist’s continuing love affair with a place that has tempered his work and his view of the world.
In 2006, the PSA honored Alan’s outstanding art by inducting him into the PSA Hall of Fame. He is the recipient of the IAPS Master Circle Award and is the founder and current president of the Degas Pastel Society.
His work is the subject of three books, Alan Flattmann’s French Quarter Impressions (2002), The Art of Pastel Painting (1987-92) and The Poetic Realism of Alan Flattmann (1980). Check the preview of these Alan’s books. His work has also been featured in many major art publications and the latest I found is the cover page of the Best of America Pastel Artists Vol II. To see more of Alan’s work visit Bryant Gallery Website.