In this issue:
Working in Pastels Again
Annie's Video About Gesso
Current Exhibition
Mixed Media Piece
80 Fifth Ave Exhibit
New Work
Appreciated Resource
Class Schedule
Gift Certificate
Archives - Newsletters

At Claudette's on Fifth Avenue, celebrating with friends, over a glass of Sancerre, the end of ten years on the Board of Directors of the Salmagundi Club. I had served variously as Chair of the Program Committee and as Recording Secretary.
[photo: Michael Rosenfeld]

If we don't count childhood misbehavior around drawing in the wrong place or at the wrong time, I was first an art historian before settling in to being an artist. But there were over four decades of working in words as an academic that overlapped with making collages and quilts in the 1970s and 80s, then pastels, oils and watercolor in the 80s and 90s. I retired in 2000 to focus on making art, just in time to address a diagnosis of breast cancer (I'm fine now). Oils, oil stick, oil pastel, acrylics, lots of watercolor. Lots of  plein air  landscape work in all of those except acrylics (they dry too fast to suit me for working outdoors). Introduced to monotype in 2011 at the Salmagundi Club.  

Throughout, I thought of myself as a pastellist, especially in thinking about dark preceding light in composing, but stayed away from this potentially toxic medium while I dealt with my own illness and then Keith Crandell's (not so lucky; he died in 2005). A few months ago, Salmagundi announced a pastel show (just opened as I write this ( Salmagundi Pastel Show ) and I thought, well, why not? I know how to handle the medium safely in the studio, and I kept itching to get back to it. Here is the piece that was accepted in the Open Pastel Exhibition: on view until June 28th. 
Pink and Magenta Tulips , pastel, 2019

I especially enjoy working large in pastel, and with both hands -- gloved for safety, of course. With the possible exception of oil stick, which I also use only while gloved, pastel is the only painting medium in which I actually plan to use both hands. The left one is assigned mostly to gross movements --- backgrounds, rubbing out initial drawings, etc., so it's not just along for the ride in pastel.

Many papers and boards are suitable for pastel. There has to be a bit of "tooth," as the medium is basically powdered pigment deposited through pressure. Preferences for the texture of a supporting surface vary from person to person. I happen to gravitate toward rougher than smoother ones. Many years ago I had the good fortune to benefit from a conversation with an artist-salesperson at the late, lamented New York Central Art Supply store in Manhattan. She suggested acrylic ground for pastel, with an admixture of pumice gel and fluid acrylic for color that has become my preferred surface for pastel. Though I've variously laid this over Masonite, particle board or Ampersand's Gessobord, my current preferred underlayer is 300-pound Arches watercolor paper, either cold-press or rough. Here's a recent video we made to demonstrate the process of preparing and applying this kind of surface.   Annie's Pastel Video
Pastel pigments are notorious for flaking off. Each artist has to figure out how best to stabilize surfaces without disturbing colors.  Some people don't attempt to fix them at all but just keep unframed pieces sandwiched within glassine sheets until time for framing under glass (not Plexiglas, as it attracts particles of pastel pigment).  Because gesso seals whatever's underneath it, it's allowed me to experiment also with using water, or, alternatively, Gamsol, a solvent made for use by oil painters. Someone told me that Degas used milk; that one I've not yet tried. There are commercial fixatives; I avoid these as I can't believe the propellants are very good for the environment, or me.
Here are recent pastels.
Purple Flowers in Yellow Vase,  pastel 13" X 12 1/2," 2019
Yellow Bouquet White Vase,  pastel on gessoed paper , 14" X 20," 2019
Lilacs Escape Velocity, pastel on gessoed paper, 21 1/2" X 21 1/2," 2019
Irises and Friends, pastel on gessoed paper, 28" X 22," 2019
Purple Irises, pastel on gessoed paper, 28" x 22," 2019
Irises, Bachelor's Buttons, and Pink Peonies,  pastel and watercolor on
Arches 300lb paper, 28 1/5" X 21," 2019

Sunset at The Mall, Central Park , a monotype with ink and pastel, happens to be my most recently-completed piece, but it's also a case-study of the factors that can converge in making a work of visual art. 

As many readers will know, I dance Argentine tango where and when I can. In summer, one venue is a paved area in Manhattan's Central Park surrounding the statue of Shakespeare at the foot of the  allee  of American elms called The Mall. Planted widely enough to permit the passage of carriages, running from 66th to 72nd Streets, The Mall remains the sole formal feature of Olmsted and Vaux's naturalistic design of the park. I shot the square source photograph for this piece at dusk on June 1, opening day of the park tango season. What caught my attention was the quality of the twilight seen among trunks and branches I'm a sucker for stately elms, having grown up in Oberlin, Ohio, on a street shaded by over-arching elms (R.I.P. those trees; Dutch elm disease has since passed through the Midwest). 

At our June monotype party at the Salmagundi Club the next week, I made a square monotype based on the square photograph. A week later, Inktense pens and a few pastels colored the first of my two impressions. At this point I realized that, in choosing the intensely green image, and in making it a square, I had also had in the back of my mind Gustave Klimt's 1910 painting  The Park , now in the Museum of Modern Art. It's both a curse and a blessing to have so large a visual repertoire of art history in my head; I just have to acknowledge what I've seen and also that I can't un-see it. 

Stay tuned to see what becomes of the second impression of the monotype, seen here in at an intermediate stage of tinkering with the raw image.
Sunset at The Mall

On the walls of Rebecca Lubart's Dynamic Body Pilates studio at 80 Fifth Avenue @14th Street is a group of my abstract works inspired for the most part by listening to specific pieces from the traditional repertoire of Argentinian tango music. Available for viewing through July 31; for an appointment, contact her at 917-613-1552.
Desde del Alma, acrylic, 6" X 12," 2008
Milonga Sentimental, acrylic, 6" X 12," 2008
Volver, acrylic, 6" X 12," 2008
Cinema Paradiso, acrylic, 6" X 12," 2008
Milonga al Toque/Kangastus, watercolor and acrylic on paper, 15" X 15," 2008
Silueta Porteña, acrylic, 6" X 12," 2008
Annie with  Evening Smoke: Where the Towers Were I,II,II, watercolor,
15 1/8" X 21 1/2," 2001
Partners on Many Levels I, monotype, 5 3/4" X 5 3/4," 2019
Partners on Many Levels II,  monotype, 5 3/4" X 5 3/4," 2019
Partners on Many Levels III,  monotype, 5 3/4" X 5 3/4," 2019
These three versions of two hats come out of my thinking about pairs and couples, intensities and degrees of connection and separation. Both the bowler and fedora are mine, and the themes have preoccupied me for years. 

Huntington Library show:
March 1 - April 12, 2019

SCNY Annual Members show:
April 29 - May 23, 2019

SCNY Pastel exhibition:
June 10 - June 28, 2019

SCNY Summer Exhibition, August 5-23

10th Annual Sylvia Maria Glesmann Members Exhibition, September 9-27

SCNY Greenwich Village Show, October 7-25
Oak Tree, Planting Fields, oil, 9 3/4" X 9 3/4," 2014
Gothic Bridge: Central Park, monotype and watercolor, 5 6/8" x 7 7/8," 2016

My personal thanks to Gayle Gibbons Madeira, artist, new member of Salmagundi, and co-host, with Tioma Maloratsky , of the  Ensueno milonga  on Mondays at the Ukrainian restaurant on Second Avenue, for her faithful maintaining of the that has kept the New York City tango community so well-connected for many years. Recent revisions of the website affirm inclusivity in the community, spell out the traditional  codigos  of tango etiquette, and provide a link to a brand--new tango map of the city

Salmagundi Club of New York

Solo Show
Patrons' Gallery, December 15 - 21, 2019
47 Fifth Avenue @ 12th Street
New York, NY 10003
Details to come!


Space is currently available in group painting classes, offered in my Bond Street studio. Class is in session three times a week, on a drop-in basis. All levels of experience welcomed. Call 212-464-7519 or Email me for details about classes and private lessons.

Current schedule:
Monday 2:30pm - 5:30 pm
Wednesday 2:30pm - 5:30 pm
Thursday 10:00am - 1:00 pm
A typical studio workstation

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