Sobota, 31 Październik 2009 14:35

What is Pastel?

?(...) Pastel ? in Italian pasta (cake, mass), is the simplest and perhaps the oldest painting technique known to man. Pastel is a dry pigment mixed into a binder to cover the painted surface and applied directly by hand and without the use of  paintbrushes. A number of people think that the first known cave paintings were created in this way; that is with the use of colourful clay, soot, chalk and other natural dyes found in nature.

The discovery of Pastel technology in its present form is attributed to Jean Perreal (France), who arrived in Milan in 1499 and supposedly aroused Leonardo da Vinci?s interest in this painting technique. In the same year, Leonardo da Vinci used pastels to paint the portrait of Izabela de?Este and later to produce the sketches for the ?Last Supper?.

Pastel was very interesting for many artists who found the medium a unique bridge between drawing and painting. They valued the medium of pastel for its simplicity when drawing soft sketches or clear, graphic lines, as well as for laying down diverse, colourful spots, which in turn allowed the artist to blend their creations with in endless artistic layouts. Therefore, the pastel technique was used in the 16th century by Holbeins, the younger Cranach, Clouet, Barocci and other great painters of the century.

The most spectacular growth of this medium fell on rococo. Boucher, Roselba Carriera and Quentin de la Toure were the masters of Pastel. They became famous achieving success and wealth at the court of French king Louis XV. Over the next few years, Pastel was used succesfully to paint portraits of famous people and rural landscapes as its ability to achieve the immediacy of result without wasting time for preparing groundwork or waiting for drying up, attracted an increasing number of artists to use this technique. Other pastel painters include the impresionists: Manet, Monet, Degas, Touluse Lautrec.

In Poland, Pastel became popular in the ?Young Poland?s? epoch, although there are known to be artists who used this medium at the court of the kings: Jan III Sobieski and Stanislas Poniatowski. The medium came into fashion thanks to Stanislas Wyspianski, who was forced to use pastels because oil paint was harmful to him. His beautiful portraits, landscapes, buduoir scenes and sketches of stained-glass belong to the classics of painting. Another great master of Pastel was Leon Wyczółkowski, for whom the pastel technique was the most natural way of expression. The use of the pastel medium allowed him to catch changing landscapes, light and incorporate a rainbow of colours into his works. He could paint several versions of the same motifs during the day. He kept only the best works, destroying others, as Pastel does not accept corrections and ?tiredness?.

Also Stanislas Witkiewicz ?Witkacy? was famous for using the pastel technique. In 1930s, he founded the famous Portrait Company with special Rules and Regulations for his clients. His paintings belong to the expressionism and formism painting styles. He also painted dreaming compositions and grotesque ?internal landscapes?.

After the Second World War, Pastel was forgotten and pushed to the margin of official art. It was only used for sketches and making notes. Perhaps, Pastel Painting was associated with the taste of the rich bourgeoisie that willingly ordered paintings in this technique (....).