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Kennys since 1940

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Art - Pastels

Pastels became popular roughly two hundred years ago and their fresh look, portability and good value means they are still a valuable artistic tool. Pastel sticks are composed of powdered pigment bound together by weak gum or resin. This makes them simple to use but on the negative side, they are also hard to save from damage and smudging.

There is also a limit in their tonal range, despite the amount of colours on the market, as they cannot be mixed before being applied onto the surface. It is also difficult to correct mistakes.

Pastels are supplied in three different qualities: soft, medium, and hard. Soft pastels are easier to handle and smudge while also having the broadest spectrum of colours. Oil pencils are stronger and are excellent for sketching. Paper suitable for pastels should have a texture for the pigment to adhere to. Good quality watercolour or drawing paper is fine, but you may also purchase Ingres paper specifically for pastel.

Equipment used by pastel artists includes special stumps in various materials like chamois to smudge the pastels in different ways. Charcoal is generally used for rough outlines and fixative to hold the image in place. You can purchase fixatives or alternatively use hairspray. However fixatives may darken the image or alter the surface of the piece.

In order to protect pastels they should be framed under glass but without touching the glass. They can also be pressed under boards with tissue paper over the top.

Pastels versatility lies in how the artist holds them. Thick and thin lines can be obtained depending on the angle at which they are held, while the amount of pressure applied dictates how dense the colour will be on the surface. The artist should always work at a tilted angle to ensure dust falls from the piece. Colours can be mixed on the surface by laying different colours over one another, or dotting them on. Always draw using well defined strokes or the image may appear blotchy.

Masters in the medium of pastel include Degas and Renoir, who used them to great effect to capture light in all its forms.

Artists at the Kenny Gallery who use Pastels include:

Maire Creaven Vicki Crowley Margaret Deighan
Patsy Farrell Ros Harvey Fred McElwee
Thomas Ryan Kieran Tobin Ted Turton
Janet Vinnell

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Pastels currently available