The Illinois Prairie Pastel Society has opened its annual exhibit for its members at the Springfield Art Association. “Pastel Perspectives” will be available to the public until April 17th.
Judge Doug Johnson, executive director of the McClean County Art Center in Bloomington, appraised the works. He told IPPS: “The works of art presented in this members’ exhibit were a sincere pleasure to see. The management of color, texture and light is an obvious priority in this medium, and the serious nature of these artists’ inquiries made difficult decisions when giving awards. Pastel painting is a beautiful medium, with incredible color possibilities and difficult handling tasks. All of the artists worked with their unique voices and subjects, making them an exciting group. “
Pastel, an art medium in a powdered pigment stick and binder, allows both drawing and painting. Tracey Maras, who won first place in the show for her creation “Maisenbacher Morning”, found herself drawn to the medium about 20 years ago. “My greatest skill in terms of art has always been drawing,” she said. “But ultimately, I wanted to start incorporating color into my artwork. I have worked with oil and acrylic paints. But it was the versatility of pastels that piqued my interest. They can be used as a drawing or painting medium. I’m never short of creative ways to use pastels. And looking in a box of pastels, in all of their vibrant, nuanced colors, is like being in a candy store.
Maras enjoys painting a wide range of subjects, but says she is most accomplished in painting animals and wildlife. “Whatever the subject, my goal is to share a story. His story of “Maisenbacher Morning”, the place of the Maisenbacher house, began with coffee. “One morning, as I was on my way to the cafe to buy a latte, I was struck by the glow of the morning sun, warming the porch post and the foliage.”
Previously: Springfield-area artist wins prestigious pastel award
“At the start of its journey as a house in the Lincoln era,” said Maras, “the Maisenbacher house had its adventures. At the risk of being demolished in 2008, it took a group of historical and community figures to come to its rescue. It was lifted from its foundation and moved to Seventh and Jackson streets and is now the home of Wm. Café de Van. … The most difficult and enjoyable aspects of creating this painting involved selecting the most important aspects of the scene to convey the story of this historic house, greeting another morning.
Because Maras has a passion for learning, she finds the versatility of pastels a favorite. “I am able to continually find ways to use pastels in new and creative ways. And then in my turn, I share what I have learned by giving classes and workshops. What was once a hobby has grown to encompass teaching. She often teams up with IPPS President Rita Williams to run COVID-focused classes in William’s studio.
Williams, an IPPS member for about 15 years and leader of the 50-plus regional group since 2019, began his pastel hike about 25 years ago. “What attracted me to the medium of soft pastel is that it is applied with the hands instead of a brush and is also very forgiving.” While she paints a variety of subjects, she says she is known for the miniature size of her works averaging 2-1 / 2 by 3-1 / 2 inches. “I am very proud and honored to be the leader of such a talented and diverse group of artists, which is verified by all the incredible works of art on display at SAA. … We help each other, encourage each other and are really happy with each other’s success. We are all working together.
Learn more-Exhibit the rewards
First place: Tracey Maras, “Maisenbacher Morning”
The second place: Mandy Roeing, “Color at Play”
Third place: Barb Drake, “Michigan Storm Clouds”
judge’s choice: Roland Folse, “Les Bouleaux”
Color price: Mary Corrigan Stjern, “Dawn in Winter”
Honorable mention: Catherine Flynn, “Culture Que”
Honorable mention: Sue Goodpaster, “Italian Vineyard”
Honorable mention: Allyson Frink, “Night View of the MCAC”