An internationally-known pastel artist is coming to Pensacola to give a workshop in July!

Doug Dawson will teach a three-day class hosted by Quayside Art Gallery. Dates for the workshop are July 15–17, 2019. The Quayside website has more information about how to sign up: https://www.quaysidegallery.com/doug-dawson-pastel-workshop

I became acquainted with Doug’s work from visiting Ventana Art Gallery in Santa Fe. His pastel paintings caught my attention because of his use of color, which makes them seem to glow. I even bought one of his pieces a few years ago and have it hanging in my living room. Doug and many of the old masters like Edgar Degas, Childe Hassam, and Mary Cassatt have inspired me to try using pastels for my own art.

Moored Study, pastel, 11×14, Doug Dawson

I started painting in pastels last summer when I took a class with Pensacola artist Fred Meyers, who has about thirty years of experience and is currently teaching a weekly drawing class, also hosted by Quayside Art Gallery. Although pastels have their challenges, I’m enjoying them for a number of reasons. For one, drawings can be done much faster than they can be rendered in colored pencil, a medium that I typically use for drawings. They can also be layered in a way that colored pencil can’t because of the pastel’s opacity. Top layers can cover layers underneath, whereas colored pencils give transparent layers and a different effect. And, like colored pencils, the color does not have to be mixed, so there are no paints to dry out. They are also color-fast and should retain vibrant colors. For all these reasons, and probably others, they are a popular medium among plein air artists, who work on location outdoors. Yet, pastels are not without some issues to consider.

Like any medium, they have characteristics that could be considered disadvantages. In particular, they are messier than pencils because they’re chalk, and unless I use gloves, my fingers contact the pigment. I keep a damp paper towel close by to wipe my fingers, especially when I’m painting with them during one of my Friday shifts at Quayside Art Gallery. If I compare the mess to oil or acrylic painting, however, it’s not so bad because I don’t have to use solvents, mediums, or thinners, and pastels don’t require drying time. But like oil paints and their solvents, pastels have inhalation issues. Since the dust contains pigments, it can’t be healthy, so I’m careful about not stirring it up and breathing it. And the advantage of not having to mix colors creates a disadvantage in that I have to buy a lot of colors. But, they’re not as expensive as tubes of good-quality oil or acrylic paint. Any medium has its pros and cons, so I choose a medium based on what I want to create and where I’ll be working. And one of those places this summer will be at Framing by Design, where the Quayside workshops are held.

I am really looking forward to Doug’s workshop, and in the meantime, I’m producing a few small pieces, like these peonies entitled Flowers, My Love. It is currently on display at Quayside Art Gallery on the third floor. If you’re interested in learning the techniques of using pastels from an internationally-known artist, consider signing up for Doug’s workshop.

See you there?!