The talent of Joan Larson’s students, both past and present, will be on display at the MAC in a group show running Dec. 5-23.
Called Passion for Pastels, the exhibit will feature pastel work by those who have become active and skilled artists in their own right, and those who are just starting their journey into the medium, said Larson.
While the exhibit will feature about 16 artists with an array of abilities, styles, subject matter and techniques, Larson highlighted the work of Lucy Wallace and Beverly Thompson in particular.
Thompson, a student of Larson’s for three or four years, is working on a series of pieces featuring eyes, and three of those will be in the show, including one of an elephant eye, said Larson. “The texture in it is jaw-dropping,” she said.
Wallace’s work is “skyrocketing, it’s fabulous,” said Larson. Wallace is a dedicated, disciplined artist who’s creating award-winning work, she said, adding she’s got a unique eye for subject matter.
One series by Wallace, which Larson believes will be in the show, offers a birds-eye view of milk designs in coffee.
Asked what draws her to pastels, Larson said, “It’s as close as you can get to working with pure pigment without holding a pile of powder in your hand.”
“A lot of pastel artists blend, and that takes five colours and makes one, which is less interesting to me than when you layer the colours unblended so they are all there affecting each other, and you just get this wonderful vibration of colour with pastels. It’s just that loose, airy layering of pure pigment on top of pure pigment that creates depth and texture… it’s beautiful to work with.”
That’s not to say Larson is opposed to using other mediums along with pastels.
One of the techniques used in some pieces in the show is underpainting, said Larson, wherein an artist can use watercolour or acrylic, or even pastel with isopropyl alcohol added to it for the first level of the piece, and then layer pastels on top. “It makes for very interesting effects,” she said, adding she often urges her students to use some of their unsuccessful watercolour work to experiment with the technique.
The exhibition runs Dec. 5-23 at the MAC, with an opening reception and festive celebration scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 9, from 1-3 p.m.