Editor’s Letter | Pastel

Garcia Peak Aspens by Ted Larsen. painting, southwest art.
Garcia Peak Aspens by Ted Larsen

By Margaret L. Brown

Pastel is experiencing an exciting renaissance in the 21st century. Once considered a less serious medium than oils, pastel in recent years has reached an elevated stature, thanks in part to the many fine artists who have embraced it. Among these are cover artist Elizabeth Sandia, who is attracted to the immediacy and directness of working in pastel. “I like that pastels are fresh and vibrant and that the medium is closer to the drawing end of art,” she says.  “When I use a paintbrush, it gets between me and my art. But with pastel I feel directly connected.” Sandia is one of nine artists whose works are spotlighted in our focus on pastel, which is accompanied by an introduction to the medium excerpted from a new book by noted painter and teacher Albert Han-dell. We also profile New Mexico pastel artist Ted Larsen, who shares with Sandia and Handell an enthusiasm for pastel’s versatility. “You can layer pastels on, make them wet like watercolor or apply them more thickly like oil paint,” he says. “Sometimes I’ll do a wash underneath or change the color of the paper from white to black. Once in a while, I’ll wipe the pastel away—for a particular effect, not just to do it. Pastels have so many different aspects.”

We also take a look at the long careers of two preeminent western American artists: Howard Terpning and Elmer Schooley. Terpning is being honored with a major retrospective at the Eiteljorg Museum in Indianapolis that runs from April 21 through May 20. Schooley, at 85, continues working in his Roswell, NM, studio, adding to a body of large-format works that have earned him decades’ worth of accolades.

Featured in April 2001