Report from IAPS, pt. 2: new products

Terry's son Geoff at the Ludwig counter

Terry’s son Geoff at the Ludwig counter

More Ludwigs

More Ludwigs

I spent a lot of time in the trade show at the convention, looking primarily for new products that might be of interest. And, also, for good sets for beginners in my classes and workshops. Of course, the old favorites, like Ludwigs were there and irresistible. I bought a box of 14.

One thing that is evident is that the manufacturers are getting older! But fortunately, their descendants are taking over. Terry Ludwig recently announced his retirement, but his son Geoff will take over the company.  I also spoke to Marge Heilmann (of the Heilmann box).  She noted that both she and John are having difficulties, but fortunately, one of their grandsons is taking over the business and he was there at the booth. This is a wonderful thing to see, since so many of the products we use are family businesses. Jack Richeson is also looking older, but his kids and employees were there taking care of business.  So, hopefully, things will go on, but it’s too bad we’ve lost Wallis paper!

Speaking of Richeson, they have a whole new line of 500 small, soft pastels that will be available soon. They were giving out boxes with 20 spaces with the first 10 free. So, of course, I got a box. And I looked at their various sets.  The 80 piece landscape set (pictured below) looks quite good and might be just the thing for new pastel artists. I have a number of potential new students, so I’m quite eager to find good products that are affordable.  I still love the 120 Unison half stick set (Richeson owns Unison) but I think these new sticks will be a lot less. They should be available from Dakota and other stores soon. The convention price was $120, but will no doubt be more. I also spoke to a representative about Plaza Art (our local art store) and hope they might carry them.

I stopped by the Dakota/Blue Earth booth and found out that they have come out with new blue violets, something they were definitely missing!  So I bought them–of course!  I love the Blue Earth and use them regularly, depending on the type of surface I’m using.

More good news from Dakota: Pastel Premiere (made for Dakota) is now mounting their surfaces in many sizes. I bought some 16 x 20s and some smaller 8 x 8 and 6 x 8 in 2 packs. Quite nice. And they will be coming out with a new mounting of eco-board (not sure what it is, but it was very lightweight).  I’m happy to hear this, given the demise of True Grit pastel panels and the fact that UART is only mounting in three sizes.  I will probably be using more of the white Pastel Premiere in the future.

The Chinese sent a large contingent of painters and paintings to the convention, along with a new Chinese paper.  It’s somewhat similar to pastel premiere (feels like an iron oxide finish). I have a sample of it. (We shipped everything back so I don’t have it now).  Also, Art Spectrum has a new “Smooth” paper. I assume that this replaces their “suede”.  I have a small sample of that, as well. Am assuming that this is meant to be like Pastelmat.  We’ll see!

That’s it. If any of my readers were there and found interesting products, do let us all know.
I’m off to Massachusetts and Maine on Monday.  Will deliver paintings to two galleries, give a one day workshop, and celebrate my mothers’ 98th!  Will be back on the 28th.  Busy times.  Hope you are enjoying the summer.

Richeson landscape set of new soft pastels

Richeson landscape set of new soft pastels

Report from IAPS 2017 pt. 1, demos

Hello Friends,

Still life by MIke Beeman, 20 x 16

Still life by Mike Beeman, 20 x 16

I’m back from a trip to Albuquerque to the 2017 IAPS (International Association of Pastel Societies) Convention and a few extra days in Santa Fe. My good friend and fellow pastelist, Sunny Alsup, was there with me–her first time.  I’ve been to every conference since 2003 (it’s biennial).  I’m thinking this may be my last, so it was rather a bittersweet experience for me. I want to share with you my impressions of the 5 demos I attended and news of new products from the trade show–always a hightlight of the conference (I’ll add this in a separate post).  I attended demos with: Mike Beeman (still life), Tony Allain (landscape), Casey Klahn (abstract), Colette Odya Smith (landscape) and Dawn Emerson (abstracted animals).  4 of the 5 were well worth being at. I was very disappointed with the Klahn demo and didn’t care for his attitude or demo. So be it!  I loved the others!!!  Mike Beeman is a friend and a wonderful artist who is a master at losing edges. His paintings are primarily still life and small birds.  He noted that years ago he NEVER would have considered painting flowers, still life, or birds!  Consider that he lives in Cheyenne, Wyoming and is a very western looking fellow!  My main interest in the demo was to find out how he was so good at losing edges. He worked on gatorboard using inexpensive acrylic paints to create a very loose underpainting for a still life with a jug and flowers. He then covered that with clear Golden gel to give it texture.  He worked over it with pastel, keeping the drawing at a minimum and developing the shapes more than the lines.  I was very inspired by this!  He also did a LOT of finger blending. Some with insulation pipe, others with his little finger, but it was a major tool for him in softening the pastel.  (As someone who rarely blends, I found this quite interesting.)

My photo is poor, due to the lights and angle of the painting, but perhaps you can get the idea. The main subjects were the flower in middle and grapes at bottom, and the head of the small bird sculpture.  I was quite intrigued with this, and I have acrylic paint, and I just might try this!

The next day I watched the Cornwall artist Tony Allain give a demo. I had met him at the previous IAPS, then again last summer in the Perigord, where he was the featured artist at the Pastels en Perigord Salon. His work is very bold and direct. He works on Colourfix toned with warm browns or grays and makes great use of the paper. In the two hour demo he did 4 large paintings! I only have a photo of one as the lights made it very difficult to film.  In this painting you can see that he left the paper at the top and bottom and used minimal strokes to represent the boats. He says he has too little time left to get into detail!  He began the painting using a large marker to put in the dark shapes that you see, including the people in the center. He then used single strokes of pastel to indicate the light and shadow. I thought his last painting was the most amazing, as he painted a lake in New Zealand with a background of rock and snow. The contrast of blue violet snow and gorgeous aqua/turquoise water and yellow snow was quite amazing.  Alas, this is not who I am. But I do admire it!

Painting of boats by Tony Allain

Painting of boats by Tony Allain

I took no pictures at the Klahn demo. He gave no thought to his composition and little to his color scheme and both Sunny and I thought it was rather a waste of time and money (I’m being very honest here!) If you like him, that’s fine.

Next there was Colette, a personal friend, and the artist most like me. Alas, my photos of her work don’t look like much. She is from Wisconsin and paints detailed paintings of close up views of streams. She showed us photos and how she cut them down, then presented a beautiful underpainting, very carefully done with watercolor. She works on museum board with Golden gel, adding the watercolor over the gel. This is a lovely surface and great if you want a thick, soft surface in whatever size you want. She spent 1.5 hours on the underpainting (prior to the conference) and I was quite impressed and understood why she didn’t try to do it in front of us. And she didn’t finish the painting either, but she shared so much. It was a lovely demo. I related to everything she said.




Painting of Swainson's Hawk by Dawn Emerson

Painting of Swainson’s Hawk by Dawn Emerson

And finally, there was Dawn Emerson.  I’ve seen her abstracted paintings for years but knew very little about her. Sunny and I were both there and at first we weren’t sure what to make of her. She is very much her own person and quite bold! She did two demos. She likes to use multiple types of media, not worrying much whether the result is a “pastel” or “multi-media” painting.  She particularly likes brayers!  She had two large tables full of materials, many of which she didn’t use.  The first demo began with a black ink monoprint of ravens (she used to have 5 of them and you could tell how much she loved them.)  She used pan pastel while dancing to music, putting on individual strokes with wide arm gestures.  Then she did another demo of a hawk directly on white paper. My photo doesn’t do justice to it, but perhaps you can get the idea. She was working from a photo of a hawk sitting on someone’s arm with trees behind. (It was at a center in Bend, OR that I have visited as we have a friend who works there!) She focused on the basic gesture of the head and wings and used pastel with a wide “pastel smoother”, ink with a brayer, pan pastel, and all kinds of pastels to gesturally develop the painting, all the while dancing to music!  It might have been kitchy, but it wasn’t. It was a very moving experience that we all felt and she sold the painting, not surprisingly.  I had great respect for her.  One of the most impressive parts is that she used no lines for the hawk, instead developing the shape of the wings by cutting in with the background colors. She really reduced the wing on right to just a gesture, as you can see, focusing on the face and eye and adding the talons in gestural strokes. I thought her painting was a very emotional reaction to the beauty of the hawk and I was greatly impressed with her ability to express it so freely.  It was a great way to end the demos.