Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Sweden Pastel Visit

Who would Santa see doing pastels if he took a turn over Sweden?

Gabriella Jonsson , of Stockholm, that's who.

Her Blog:
Daily Artwork Gallery

Friday, December 21, 2007

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Sennelier Critique

Blue Branches on Red
14” x 10”
Original Pastel
Casey Klahn

Sennelier Extra-Soft Pastels “à l’écu” have a wide, wide range of colors. 525 current in the line. Go here to see a run down of the types of pastels, their sizes and sets available. I think a friend of mine said that she bought a full set with prize money, once. Other than that, I noticed once that Daniel Greene uses a full set. Personally, I have a hard time seeing myself using a full set, but if Santa is willing...

I know that I have some discontinued ones (high key greens) in my palette. Once, I bought their 100 landscape set when it was being updated with different colors. As soon as it arrived, I broke each stick in half and peeled the wrappers off of the halves that went into use, and stored the remainder in my back-up boxes, by hue and value. Then, I shed a tear at how easily the hundred sticks disappeared into the whole of my collection. I have a hard time finding which ones are actually Sennies.

To get a feeling for this experience, the next time you get home from the grocer, take that new gallon carton of milk and jab it through the bottom with a butcher knife. See? How's that feel?

That's part of a pastel artist's life, though. Ruin the tools; rid yourself of the precious. Now, you might be free to actually create something. It reminds me of this hilarious scene in a World War One movie where Bill Murray is a medic sergeant who gets a spankin' new ambulance donated by school kids from America and the green driver is so proud to arrive at the front lines with this gem. Murray pulls out his revolver and starts shooting out the headlights and blowing holes in the doors. Google reminds me this movie was titled The Razor's Edge, and few others liked it but me. I am so weird.

This over dramatization I bring to you for a reason. Art is wholly about discarding the precious. Who cares if Senneliers crumble a little every now and then? This is the price you pay for very clear ultramarine blues.

I learned something from Lisa Bachman's post about the darks available from Sennelier. I am more prone to establishing big areas of dark, and so I favor the bigger Diane Townsend Terrage sticks. These sticks are so dark, I have a hard time getting them back in their proper place in my palette. Good to know that Sennelier makes dark darks, too.

I reach for the Sennies to establish really bright and pure color passages in my paintings. An example can be seen in this detail from Blue Branches.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Pastel Workshops

Yellow Gesture
18" x 11"
Original Pastel
Casey Klahn
Private Collection

This artwork was rendered during a Diane Townsend workshop on abstract pastels. The yellow gesture is a thin line yellow pastel stick from Diane's own palette. See an essay by me about this painting here.

A pastel workshop can be a huge challenge for the student. I have lost sleep at workshops. There is a kinesthetic struggle that takes place when you have your own ouvre, and then you are challenged to adopt new techniques and subjects. For me, it's like I am literally being skinned alive, and then told to put it back on!

I have only attended 3 pastel workshops: Jennifer Evenhus, Susan Ogilvie and Diane Townsend. They each shined in their own way, although I think you'll notice that I rave about the DT one constantly in my blogs. I try to take one a year, but don't quite reach that goal. As I mature in my career, the workshops need to be more targeted. Family obligations have veto power, too!

I want to highlight workshop evaluations and stories here at
Pastel, and I found this post at Making a Mark about Katherine's workshop experience sitting under Sally Strand. Strand is a contemporary expert of the figure and light, IMO. Add to the difficulties listed above, the extra hardships of international travel, and you can respect the effort Katherine put into this workshop.

Time is short, so I won't post a workshop resource. You have Google. I would like to do it sometime, though, since I have my favorite searches.

Note: Stay tuned for my evaluation/review of Sennelier pastels.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

U.K. Pastels

The kids and Lorie and I watched The Santa Clause 3 last night. How do they keep making better sequels like that? Answer: Martin Short, Ann-Margret and Alan Arkin.

The kids think that Santa starts his Christmas Eve trip at Scotland, then moves on to Northern Ireland, etc., across to Norway and around Europe. You get the picture.

Here's my Christmas post visiting international pastel bloggers in England & the U.K.

Vivien Blackburn
Katherine Tyrrell
Lisa Bachman, who was featured in the last post.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Lisa Bachman

Pastel Tools & Me Sennies

Lisa Bachman, who doesn't use Cockney, posted today her review of Senneliers. Go have a look, and she gets into some good details on the darks.

The pastel world did suffer from a lack of darks for some time, I understand. But, I do know that when you buy a box set of pastels, even a 100 count landscape set, that you will likely still be missing dark darks. So, heed well Lisa's illumination of her favorite darks. And, I use the Cockney to, hopefully, bring down my reading level score.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Sennelier Extra-Soft Pastels “à l’écu”

Sennelier Extra-Soft Pastels “à l’écu”

The three French brands of pastels, that I know of, are all color-centric. I love that focus. The three are Henri Roche, Pastels Girault, and Sennelier. In this second of my series on pastel brands, we will inspect the renowned Sennelier.

Chemist Gustave Sennelier founded in 1887 what would become the premier artist's paint resource of France. His store front was strategically placed within spitting distance of Paris' great museum and academy, the Louvre and the École des Beaux Arts. Of course, the Maison Sennelier faces the Left Bank of the Seine River, and Gustave's paint lab became eventually "the" place for the Avante-Garde of Impressionism.

Fine colors were purveyed to the likes of Cézanne, Degas, Gauguin, Monet, Bonnard, Soutine, Picasso, Modigliani, Kandinsky, Dali, van Gogh. If the walls of his storied Maison could only speak, how they would celebrate the conversations shared by these giants! The artists interacted with Sennelier in order to fulfill their needs for new colors.

Next posts: Details and critique.

Monday, December 10, 2007

International Series - Gesa Helms


Here at Pastel, I wish to begin a series of international links to Pastelists from countries other than my own. Call it a one-over-the-world interest in the greater world of our medium of pigment. We begin with Gesa Helms, of Glasgow, Scotland.

Gesa Helms, of Paint and Pastel, is a wonderfully experimental artist whose blog contains both glimpses into her own colorful work and insights into the art base of Scotland. She is based in Glasgow. Her blog blurb is:
"ideas, experiments and thoughts on painting: pastels, oils and more"

See her post about the late, great Joan Eardley for a taste of Scottish art appreciation. Eardley's work is a hoot.

As far as Scotland is concerned, you have to love a nation whose land is in constant marine weather, and whose men wear the kilt anyway. That's tough.

Other things I love about Scotland:
Ice Climbing
Mel Gibson's Movie
Did I mention Whisky?

Things I find mildly amusing about Scotland:

My birth town of Aberdeen, Washington got its name from Aberdeen, Scotland
Scottish Common Sense Realism

Things I want to know more about Scotland:
Scottish Colourists


Friday, December 7, 2007

Bits & Pieces Repair

Since I have readers who have enjoyed learning how to make their own pastels, and reconstitute easel tailings, I want to direct you over to Richard McKinley's well written post on how to re-work your bits & pieces of pastel sticks.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

The Pastel Colorist - Casey Klahn

Giselle Borzov's Art Now has published an interview with me. Pour a cup of Joe and take a break while you read a little bit about my background and how I arrived at my Colorist Art signature.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Similar Stories

Untitled: Red, Gray, Blue
8" x 5"
Original Pastel
July 1st, 2007
Casey Klahn

Similar stories always pique my interest. Julene Baker, PSA, began her artist's life at about the Kindergarten age, and is self-taught. She works exclusively in pastel. Those are parallels to my own story.

I found Baker's interesting interview at an online art monthly entitled Practical Painting.

While you're at PP, you may enjoy this link to pastel tips.