Mary Aslin Mary Aslin's Realistic Pastel Stil Lives Transcend Time

Publication: Laguna News Post
Publication Month: February
Publication Year: 2011
Publication Date: 2/15/2011

When looking at Mary Aslin’s beautifully rendered, realistic pastel still lives, there is a sense of time standing still. Her technique, vision, and use of colored pigments appear to not belong to a particular era, but transcend time. Her work is classic rather than contemporary, except that they are created by a 21st Century artist who forms each still life with an abstract foundation. Aslin’s highly skilled renderings can be seen at the Joseph Wise Gallery.


Having an idea in mind of particular flowers and their arrangements, Aslin first develops a thumbnail sketch on a small piece of paper, to work out abstract patterns of shapes, lines, light and shadows and how they interact with one another. Turning the thumbnail, she looks for poetic arrangements of patterns, how lines dialogue with shapes, and how light and shadows effect the total abstraction. Observing the image from different angles, the small piece of paper, now a colorful miniature abstraction, becomes a satisfactory and sensitive composition. At some point, Aslin then shifts to working figuratively, transforming patterns into recognizable floral still lifes. “Daisy Rain,” for example, came about when Aslin saw, in North Laguna, a group of daisies gracefully bent by the pouring rain and illumined by patches of light in a darkened sky. Transfixed by what she saw, Aslin stopped “dead in her tracks.” Because of the weather she photographed the scene, something she rarely does, and took the image back to her studio. Aslin then began the thumbnail, which, turned into one of her most moving images.



Soft pastels are composed of the purist ground of pigments. The powdered pigments, the same used in paint, is held by a binder, ground together into a paste, rolled into a stick and allowed to dry. Aslin explains that “pastel” comes from the French world “pastiche” which means “mixture” or “jumble.” Because of the purity of pastels, it is the most permanent of all media and will remain unchanged for generations. Historically, there are pastels drawn several hundred years ago that look as fresh as when they were created. For Aslin: “using pastels is juicy, delicious, and seductive. It is drawing, painting, and sculpting rolled into one exciting experience.”


Aslin is a Festival of the Arts participant who has also received recognition, Best of Show and Honorable Mention from many Pastel exhibitions. She also shows at Chemers Gallery in Tustin. The Joseph Wise Gallery is at 1550 SCH, Suite 103, 949-376-7902. Visit Aslin’s website: Contact the writer: