2014-01-17 / Columnists

From The Artist Studio

Blues Guitar; To Oil Or To French
By Susan Hartenstein


"Hot Rod Band 1," photograph by Larry Gray, one of the artworks in "Gifted" in RoCA at Fort Tilden. "Hot Rod Band 1," photograph by Larry Gray, one of the artworks in "Gifted" in RoCA at Fort Tilden. Kerry Kearney Blues Guitar Workshop. Remaining sessions: 7:30 p.m., Wednesdays, January 22nd, 29th, in sTudio 7 Gallery, RoCA in Fort Tilden. Visit www.KerryKearneyOfficial.com to learn more about Kearney. To register call 718-474-0861. For information email jamesrockart116@aol.com

Ron Biegel of The Long Island Voice writes of Kerry Kearney, “Possibly the best blues slide guitarist this side of the Mississippi, or at least of the East River. … His talent transcends all musical boundaries and in a perfect world, his name would be known from coast to coast.” Blue Lou Margiore of Good Times Magazine writes, “Kearney …is an amazing slide guitarist. His electric guitar work is the stuff of which lightning storms are made …”

This is the last weekend for you to view “Gifted”; your final opportunity to find a special gift for those who understand how much talent and soul go into the creation of an original, unique work of art. It is the final chance you will have to give yourself the gift of seeing an array of excellent artwork in your own community. Gallery hours are Saturday and Sunday 12- 4 p.m. and by appointment, in sTudio 7 Gallery, Rockaway Center for the Arts in Fort Tilden. Admission is free.

When I tell people that recently I have been working in oil pastels, frequently I see one eyebrow lift into a kind of boomerang shape, the forehead will furrow and the lips will twist into the meander of an unfulfilled question mark.

“What is an oil pastel?”

“Good question,” I respond.

When many people think of pastels, they only consider the soft pastels, aka “French” pastels. Oil pastels are often called wax oil crayons. Soft pastel sticks are made with a gum or methyl cellulose binder. Oil pastels are composed of pigment mixed with a non-drying oil and wax binder. The result is a waxy surface to the oil pastel painting. Soft pastel paintings have an almost powdery, chalky surface that can be fixed with a fixative.

Oil pastels are more difficult to fix in place. Oil pastels have a harder edge than soft pastels and are more difficult to blend. However, certain solvents can be used as blending mediums applied with a brush on the already applied oil pastels, such as turpentine, linseed oil or vegetable oil. One could also oil the surface of the paper before application of the pastel, or just dip the pastel stick itself. Paper (specifically paper designed for use with pastels) is the surface I most often use and that is commonly used.

But other possible surfaces are wood, metal and Masonite board. Personally, I like using toned paper. It acts as a kind of initial glaze, as in watercolor. I’ve done several pieces on black paper. It puts those cello tones in ‘right off the bat,’ giving the piece a delicious richness and depth. I like combining watercolor and oil pastel, or pen and ink and oil pastel. But be careful if you are using watercolor paper. A paper with ‘tooth,’ like cold press or rough, will chew up the pastel stick unless you apply the color and then rub it into the paper’s surface with a paper towel.

There are several brands of oil pastel out there, in grades from scholastic to student to professional. As with any medium I recommend using at least student grade. They may be more expensive, but they are softer and more vibrant than scholastic, so will give you results that will be more encouraging to continue.

Van Gogh makes a student grade. Professional grades like Sennelier and Holbein are even more expensive, most vibrant, softest, and are luscious to work with.

RAA Contact Info:

Phone: 718-474-0861; Fax: 718- 474-4373; e-mail: info@raa116.org; website: www.rockawayartistsalliance.org

CU@RoCA.

Fort Tilden Highlights

PRESENT EXHIBIT: “Gifted,” RAA member exhibit. Through January 19th, sTudio 7 Gallery, Rockaway Center for the Arts (RoCA) at Fort Tilden. Gallery hours: Saturday and Sunday 12-4 p.m. and by appointment. Free admission. NEXT EXHIBIT: “Mixed Media.” Exhibition dates: February 1st to March 23rd. Reception: Sunday, February 2nd, 12-4 p.m.

“Mixed Media,” is RAA’s next exhibit. Artists have been invited to be creative, imaginative, adventurous, using whatever traditional (or nontraditional) art tools they feel they need to combine in order to fully and successfully express themselves. It runs from February 1st to March 23rd. New submission deadline: January 17th. For more information, please call 718-474-0861 or email jamesrockart116@aol.com

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