Thoughts to share, ideas to ponder

Pastel Journal 2014 Year in Review

I was pleased to be alerted by a friend that one of my paintings was featured in the Pastel Journal's 2014 Year in Review

There are so many excellent artists featured...thrilled to be in such great company!


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The "why" behind "Ancestral Memory"

I finally "put myself out of my misery". On my bike/hikes, I would see these beautiful aged plants, with their soft blooms having faded and giving way to soft seed. I LONGED to paint them. They reminded me of sunflowers and one day, I "saw" the painting in my head and raced back up, sunflowers in hand, to do a plein air study.



Why did I call this painting "Ancestral Memory"?  I have been fortunate enough to do some traveling and when I first visited France, I had this powerful experience of "knowing" and it occurred to me that ancestral memory must be a real thing.  I have visited other European countries, but have not had this experience.  My ancestors are from France, England and Ireland.  I have been to England and had the same feeling.  Though I have never been, I am guessing that it would be similar in Ireland. 


These faded thistly, sunflower-like blooms, receding in the distance, and paired with their more contemporary sunflower cousins, immediately recalled that notion of ancestral memory.  Hence, the title.


It is such a relief to give flesh to this inspiration and finally, lay it to rest.

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Demonstration of my pastel painting, "Crescendo"

In creating the new painting "Crescendo", the images below show the painting in progress:







 Crescendo, about 3/4 finished, 19 1/2 x 25, Pastel

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Informed Collector recognition

I am thrilled that by virtue of Blush and Happenstance winning outstanding pastel for the month of September 2014 in the Bold Brush competition that my work was featured in the November 5, 2014 issue of Informed Collector.


Thank you Fine Art Views jury for this award!


Note: This article appears courtesy of by Clint Watson, a free email newsletter about art, marketing, inspiration and fine living for artists, collectors and galleries (and anyone else who loves art) .For a complimentary subscription, visit:



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Pastel Journal featuring pastel paintings in process

Beth Williams wrote a lovely summary of three paintings in process in the on-line edition of the October 14 Pastel Journal. 


Here is a clip of the page.  Click on the image below to be directed to that page!


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Feature article in the Pastel Journal

I am honored to be featured in the upcoming October 2014 issue of the Pastel Journal!

Into the Light
In addition to soft, painterly florals, artist Mary Aslin paints grand, large-scale figures. Learn how in her step-by-step demonstrations.
By Robert K. Carsten

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I titled this painting "Cantata" because it feels like it's just that: a piece of music for singers and instruments that usually has several parts. In addition to the roses, which I worked and reworked until they clustered and fell just right and naturally, the vessels and other flowers, the background edges, and diffuse light on the right, all resulted in a “cantata”, the visual result even evoking musical notes on a staff.

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Evolution of a commission painting

Some dear collectors commissioned me to do a painting of a seascape beach scene with some action in the waves, Catalina in the background, billowy clouds and very colorful flowers in the foreground.  The collectors also liked a gallery-wrap style painting with some dimensionality and texture to the painting surface.  It was to be in the entry way leading to an exterior courtyard so it was important that the painting be very dimensionally stable, able to withstand salty air and temperature changes. 


All of these factors pointed to an archival varnished acrylic painting completed on a primed dibond aluminum composite panel, a departure from my usual paintings in pastel.


After pondering the design of the home on a visit there to ascertain the size of the painting, I wondered if the painting panel could be arched to mimic the the doors and windows of the home, all of which have arches.  Oh, the wonders of the internet!  I found Serious Art Supplies in Corona where artist and sign maker Maurice Carmeli made a beautiful arched custom primed dibond panel for me.


Much delightful collaboration, small painted studies, home visits, and refinements later, the painting was hung in this week in time for the arrival of the collectors' family reunion. 




It's amazing to me how a 40 foot acrylic mural completed 16 years ago in 1999 and many plein air beach scenes from 2006 to the present came to bear on the development and completion of this painting.  I'm thrilled with the result, and more importantly, so are the collectors.

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Gravitas or joy?

One very loud voice in the world of art are those pieces which inspire awe and respect because of their gravitas or seriousness.

If both amazing skill and gravitas is present in the work, an artist can sometimes be taken more seriously than one who, for example, paints from a perspective of exemplifying joy or beauty. Many artists will say they don't want to paint just “another pretty picture” which is also a recipe for dismissal at the hands of art academics.

During political strife and warring in Spain in 1909, the genius artist Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida could be found on the beach in Valencia, after conveying to his friend and patron, Archer Huntington, that he was painting [with] 'soul clenched in a fist, grieving, sad, and joyless because Spain's sadnesses are now more palpable than ever'.  He painted thirty paintings full of joy, light, and life. It is speculated that this was Sorolla's way of helping raise morale in Spain. An article about Sorolla said that he “appears to see everything at its best, and to express what he sees in a manner full of spontaneity and joyousness...”


Examples of Joaquin Sorolla's beach paintings



In light of what is happening in Iraq with the displaced Kurds, the horrendous Ebola virus afflicting West Africa, the state of affairs in Israel, and the situation in Russia and Ukraine, it is understandable why artists who might depict the gravity of these realities with skill, sensitivity, and compassion should be greatly respected.

I find it difficult to look at the faces of weeping women who have lost their children through wars and violence and upheaval. I'm afraid I would not have the fortitude to paint such grief and pain. When Sorolla saw the scene which inspired "A Sad Inheritance", he said “I suffered horribly when I painted it. I had to force myself all the time. I shall never paint such a subject again”.


A Sad Inheritance, by Joaquin Sorolla


Despite his feelings about painting the piece, I think Sorolla has managed to depict both gravitas and beauty--there is an aching tenderness with which the priest assists these children, who are trying, despite their disabilities, to enjoy their beach day. 


And where gravitas and beauty are not mutually exclusive, perhaps joy is another thing.  Sorolla turned to joy as his inspiration, and like him, I do the same.  (And not a day goes by that I don't remind myself of my good fortune in being able to do so....).

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The Pearl Art Auction

I am thrilled that this painting will be featured at the inaugural Pearl Art Auction to be held on September 1, 2014 in Portland, Oregon.  I wish I could attend but I will be dismantling my booth that day at the Festival of Arts.  If you are in the area, a reception will be held out in Troutdale at the Caswell Gallery on August 29. 

To find out more and to register go to The Pearl Art Auction.

Here is a bit of history:

Rip Caswell, internationally recognized bronze sculptor and one of America’s leading gallery owners and art dealers, is announcing the launch of "The Pearl Fine Art Auction" to be held annually in Portland, Oregon. The inaugural auction is scheduled for Labor Day, September 1, 2014, and will be held at Urban Studio, a contemporary event venue located in the arts culture hub known as the Pearl District of NW Portland. 

Rip Caswell has successfully owned and operated the Caswell Gallery, located just east of Portland in Troutdale, the gateway to the National Scenic Area of the Columbia River Gorge. Caswell Gallery has earned a national reputation as a venue for fine artists of all mediums; including the realistic and limited edition bronze sculptures produced by Caswell himself. 

Caswell saw that the Pacific NW region of the U.S. was missing an art related event of such caliber, and so planning began on The Pearl Art Auction in order to fill that void. Expectations are that the event will draw buyers from the entire western states and that The Pearl Art Auction will become one of the west’s greatest art events.

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