September's Super Pastels: Cristina Dimus, "Breathe," pastel, 9 7/16 x 12 7/16 in (24 x 32 cm)

September’s Super Pastels

I can hardly believe we are well into October already. September’s Super Pastels are a wee bit late coming to you but you’ll know I’ve been busy launching my first online course Pastel Painting En Plein Air – super exciting!! Anyway, onto September’s Super Pastels!

Yup, it was another fabulous selection of over 50 pastels collected over the month of September. As always, I chose ten and as always, it’s a very subjective and personal choice of pastels that struck me in some way. I hope you enjoy them!

Septemeber's Super pastels: Barbara Southgate, "Murray Backwater, Corowa," pastel on black paper, 20 1/16 x 26 in (51 x 66 cm)

Barbara Southgate, “Murray Backwater, Corowa,” pastel on black paper, 20 1/16 x 26 in (51 x 66 cm)

Everytime I look at this pastel, I’m mesmerized by the depth and complexity of content. My eye wanders about taking in the trees, the water, the ground, the reflections, the colours, the textures, the details. There’s a feeling of stillness yet I can imagine the life that goes on below the surface, in the places we cannot see. We just have to stay still long enough to discover it. I like that wee bit of what looks like manicured lawn top right. The painting seems a statement about the grandness and glory of nature compared to man’s puny attempts at controlling it. Check out Barbara Southgate’s website here.



September's Super Pastels: Sylvie Poirson, "Meli-Melo (HodgePodge)," pastel on pastel card, 23 5/8 x 23 5/8 in (60 x 60 cm)

Sylvie Poirson, “Meli-Melo (HodgePodge),” pastel on pastel card, 23 5/8 x 23 5/8 in (60 x 60 cm)

Here’s a subject that many of us, if we even saw the beauty in the subject, might contemplate doing but wouldn’t because it was just too darn complicated! What a mix of water and plantlife swirling about in it, partly submerged, partly above water. It reminds me of when I threw an aging bouquet into the sea which took it swirling away in its own sweet time. I love that I can feel the movement of the water. I admire the rendering of water, flowers and leaves in a complex and intricate weaving. I love that Poirson has created mystery in what appears an ordinary subject – where is this place? what exactly is happening? See more of her work here.



September's Super Pastels: Bozena Topór-Karpinska, "Winter in Koscielniki," pastel, 15 3/4 x 23 3/4 in (40 x 60 cm)

Bozena Topór-Karpinska, “Winter in Koscielniki,” pastel, 15 3/4 x 23 3/4 in (40 x 60 cm)

I was taken by the deceptive simplicity of this pastel. It’s a difficult subject – mainly just ‘bush’ – which Topór-Karpinska has managed to capture so well. What really impresses me is the way you see the front shrubs with their bare branches and drying leaves and then can see beyond them to the plants in the field. And further on, signs of human existence in the road and a few rooftops. Again another pastel of a seemingly ordinary scene made into something for us to examine with wonder. There’s something about this piece that reminds me of some of the landscapes by Van Gogh, particularly his drawings. Check out Topór-Karpinska’s work here.



September's Super Pastels: Eve Miller Davidson, "Johnson's Flats," pastel on UArt 400, 18 x 16 in

Eve Miller Davidson, “Johnson’s Flats,” pastel on UArt 400, 18 x 16 in

From a high horizon line in the previous work to a low one here, from a daytime scene to one at twilight, Davidson offers us the glory of a full moonrise in a swirl of sky. I love the contrast between the large shapes, colours, and mid-values of the sky contrasted with the wee details, dark values, and colour accents of the landscape. This certainly is an evocative piece, full of mood and portent, and the emotional celebration of the beauty of nature. Have a look at more of Eve Miller Davidson’s work here.



September's Super pastels: Yves Serny, "Mandarines," pastel on Pastelcard, 22 x 32 in

Yves Serny, “Mandarines,” pastel on Pastelcard, 22 x 32 in

We go from the emotional resonance of the previous pastel to the quiet stillness of this still life. There was something about this pastel that drew me back again and again. Once again we have a commonplace subject – a glass of water and a plate of mandarin oranges on a sideboard – in the tradition of realism, this time though, raised up into something more, something almost iconic. It’s as if time is standing still when we look at this piece rather than looking at a painting merely capturing a moment in time. I love all the subtle highlights throughout – the various lights on the glass, the barely discernable reflection on the wood, the light catching the edge of the sideboard on the right, the sparkling highlights on the fruit. Have a look at Serny’s website here.



September's Super Pastels: Kathryn Donatelli, "Self-Portrait-Grey," limited palette of conte and Rembrandt pastels on paper, 14 x 11 in

Kathryn Donatelli, “Self-Portrait-Grey,” limited palette of conte and Rembrandt pastels on paper, 14 x 11 in

A sensitive and unwavering self examination, this portrait had me looking into the eyes and wondering about this woman and who she is. You can tell she’s not young – the grey hair and somewhat puffy and sagging skin – and with a life of experiences behind her and yet there is something youthful about her that comes through, a childlike wonder perhaps and an ease with the world. I like the way Donatelli has used the same colours throughout – the grey colour of the hair is also used to convey the cool areas of skin and the garment for instance. The head is slightly cocked as if asking a question of herself or of us. What is that question? Check out Donatelli’s work here.



September's Super Pastels: Mustafa Yüce, "Emir-HAN-1," pastel, 94 1/2 x 63 in (240 x 160 cm)

Mustafa Yüce, “Emir-HAN-1,” pastel, 94 1/2 x 63 in (240 x 160 cm)

Pretty extraordinary rendering of a child’s face isn’t it! Look at the water droplets, the transparency of wet cloth, the flesh inside of the mouth, the damp hair, the intensity in the eyes, the pudginess of a child’s hands. All quite astounding. Now I want you to read the size of this piece and imagine how big this is! (To get a real sense of the scale of this pastel, scroll to the end – you may be shocked!). To see more of Yüce’s proficiency with this medium and to see more detailed progress photos of this piece, click here.



September's Super Pastels: Laura Pollak, "Crystal Swirl," pastel on UArt paper, 21 x 15 in

Laura Pollak, “Crystal Swirl,” pastel on UArt paper, 21 x 15 in

Pollak is known to me as a landscape painter so when she started posting abstracts, I was pleasantly startled. When this one came along, it caught my attention completely. I keep wondering what I was looking at. (Yes, it’s abstract but there feels like many narratives within.) It made me think of a crack in the universe, or a view from the air of a city below as seen through broken pieces of glass, or a close-up of an explosion, or an ethereal and magical place. I love the use of two main colours punctuated by colour accents. There’s such movement and dynamism in this piece. Looking forward to seeing more abstracts! See more of Pollak’s work here.



September's Super Pastels: Cristina Dimus, "Breathe," pastel, 9 7/16 x 12 7/16 in (24 x 32 cm)

Cristina Dimus, “Breathe,” pastel, 9 7/16 x 12 7/16 in (24 x 32 cm)

I laughed when I saw this pastel by Dimus. I love the colour, the energy, the movement, the sense of drawing and painting all at once, the distortions, the design. We are left waiting for this young woman to take her breathe as she emerges from the water. But she’ll always be caught in that split second before breaking the surface into air. This makes me hold my own breathe, waiting for the moment to happen! Check out more of Dimus’s work here.



September's Super Pastels: Wade Zahares, "Catching Dinner," pastel, 40 x 30 in

Wade Zahares, “Catching Dinner,” pastel, 40 x 30 in

Speaking of laughing, how can you not when you see this colourful, crisp piece?? It’s so very different from the way we generally see pastel used. I liked many of the pieces I saw by Zahares but I chose this one because I love the extreme perspective that runs the gamut from looking down at the sea bottom to looking up through the water’s surface at the lobster fisherman. There are so many little things that I love about this piece – the way the lines on the ocean floor are repeated in the lines of the boat and of the lobster trap, the transition area between water and air, the way the buoy leaps out at us, breaking the boundaries of the painting, the use of blues/greens and reds/yellows. Zahares’s work is unmistakable and you can see more here.



It’s been a year since I started doing these monthly curations (you can see last September’s choices here) and incredibly, I haven’t yet repeated the work of any one artist – there have been enough new and wonderful pieces to choose from. I now feel released though from that self-imposed restriction to repeat. Let’s see what happens!

Choosing work for a show is a daunting task (I just had the pleasure of jurying a local chapter’s show). I choose these pieces for these monthly blog posts but they are chosen from ones I myself have selected through the month rather than ones submitted to me, so it’s easier (and I don’t have to worry about hurting anyone’s feelings!) Artist Vianna Svabo recently wrote about the whole process of jurying. Click here to read all three of these illuminating articles.

As always, I love hearing your thoughts. What do you think of September’s Super Pastels. Did any stand out for you? Let me know!

Until next time,

~ Gail

PS. As promised, a close-up of Mustafa Yüce’s piece above with the hand of the artist included to give you a sense of its size.

September's Super Pastels: Mustafa Yüce, "Emir-HAN-1," pastel, 94 1/2 x 63 in (240 x 160 cm) - detail

Mustafa Yüce, “Emir-HAN-1,” pastel, 94 1/2 x 63 in (240 x 160 cm) -detail

14 thoughts on “September’s Super Pastels

    1. Gail Sibley Post author

      Ah Carol, I’m so glad you were moved by some of these pieces. That’s really what I hope to achieve! Thanks for sharing your favs.

    1. Gail Sibley Post author

      It’s always good to hear that subscribers are enjoying these monthly curations. I enjoy doing them but they do take time so it’s always great to hear appreciation and enjoyment. So thank you Wendy!

  1. LaVera Grant

    Thank you again for an excellent selection of pastel artists in your September collection of super pastels. I am totally awed by the work of Mustafa Yuce. But on a practical side, how in the world does someone fame a pastel of that great size?

    I have been working in pastels for years but find that framing is a restrictive problem and thus at present seldom work larger than 12 X 16. I follow your blog and would love to have you discuss framing sometime.


    1. Gail Sibley Post author

      So glad you enjoyed this selection LaVera! Your question about framing is an excellent one – I know exactly what you mean about restricting the size you work on because of the sometimes prohibitive cost of framing. I will keep your idea about a blog on framing in mind. And in the meantime, I’ll contact Mustafa and ask him about his framing choices.

      1. Daggi Wallace

        I, too, would love to hear more about how some pastel artists who work so very large frame their work, display, ship it. I just framed a 40×60″ piece and it cost hundreds of dollars and I can’t even imagine shipping it anywhere!


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