Pastel drawings are not as much in vogue today as they were in the 18th and 19th century. But thanks to artists who used pigment powder in creating some of the most beautiful images in the world, the art was not lost. Take a look at these quick stories about pastel artworks and the lives of the few men (and a woman) who conjured lives and worlds with the tip of their pastel pens.
- Edgar Degas. Member of the upper crust and highly-educated Frenchman Edgar Degas co-founded the group Impressionists and championed pastel artworks. The Woman Bathing in a Shallow Tub was one of his widely-criticized works, which was displayed alongside his other pastel portraits in the final Impressionist exhibit in 1886. But it remained a memorable and noteworthy piece of art for showcasing his unusual pastel drawing styles. He conveyed fresh angles and perspectives to his subjects. He left a mark mainly through his unique creation of images that always appeared to be in motion. Ballerinas, laundresses and café-concert singers were some of his common favorite subjects.
- Mary Stevenson Cassatt. French-educated American artist Mary Cassatt was a protégé of Edgar Degas, who also encouraged her in her endeavor of making prints. She was the only American who became an official member of the Impressionists. Like her mentor, she was primarily interested in figure compositions. Women and children were her principal subjects in most paintings. Many of her depictions were bound in the clandestine dominion of the home. In her famous pastel artwork Nurse Reading to a Little Girl, she employed the techniques of symmetry, balancing light and shade, and varying strokes on subjects and the background. She defined intimacy through the direct and less formal effect of using pastel in drawing.
- Edouard Manet. He was one of those artists who refused to label their personal works. But critics and scholars often compared his work with those of the Impressionists. Everyday scenes were depicted in his paintings. His style was innovative, his interpretation was modern. Instead of mixing colors, he placed them side by side, allowing the eye to mix them automatically. The surfaces of his paintings were not completely covered by brushstrokes, giving them an “unfinished” look. Although many criticized his style, many a gallery all over the world had included his portraits in exhibits.
- Ferdinand-Victor-Eugène Delacroix. One of the leaders of the Romantic Movement, his legacy lived on to influence Impressionism with his avid brushstrokes. He was fascinated by the everyday, local fares of his time. Although he was not a pioneer of pastel drawings, his total reached up to 1,500 pastel artworks. Edgar Degas was said to have bought one of the countless Delacroix paintings to add to his private collection. His endless fascination with colors and ability to apply that on drawings made him one of the most viable painters in museums up to now.
These are some of the gifted ones who changed the way the pastel drawing was viewed, not just in France, Europe, and America, but in most parts of the world. The art remains alive because these painters remain alive in the hearts and souls of those who love art as life itself.