PASTEL and the History of the Pastel Society
(Taken from an article by Robin Capon)

Pastel has many attractive qualities for artists, especially the fact that it combines so readily the immediacy of drawing with a rich and painterly colouring potential. Not surprisingly, since its introduction in the 16th century, it has been used by many of the world’s greatest artists, including Chardin, Quentin de Latour, Degas, Toulouse-Lautrec and Mary Cassat. It was a particularly popular medium in France, and this eventually led to the founding of the Société des Pastellistes in 1870. In England, the first exhibition devoted entirely to pastel was held in 1888, and not long after this the first British pastel society was formed – the Society of British Pastellists. However, mainly due to extremely harsh criticism in the press, this society was short-lived.

A decade later, in the autumn of 1898, in the studio of Marion Gemmell, at Lownes Square in London, a group of artists met to discuss the formation of a new society for pastellists, and this became known as the Pastel Society. George Frederick Watts was elected President, with the founding members including such accomplished painters as George Clausen, Hercules Brabazon Brabazon, William Orchardson and William Holman Hunt.

The first exhibition was organized for February 1899 at the galleries of the Royal Institute of Water Colour Painters in Piccadilly. Soon, the annual exhibition began to attract other prominent artists of the time, such as Whistler and Sickert. Interest and confidence in pastel had once again been restored and the medium began to enjoy the status it had known a century earlier.

By 1915 the membership had increased to 87. In 1921 Samuel Melton Fisher was elected president, a post he held for the next 18 years. He worked tirelessly to improve the standing of the society during a difficult period in its development. From 1926 to 1988 the society held a joint annual exhibition with the Pencil Society - a decision which at first proved very unpopular with many leading critics. The two societies amalgamated in 1988.

Unlike many other societies the Pastel Society continued to stage exhibitions during the Second World War, showing at the Guildhall Gallery and a number of provincial venues after the RI Galleries had been damaged by bombing. Later, exhibitions returned to the RI Galleries, but when the lease expired in 1970 the society joined the Federation of British Artists at the Mall Galleries, which has since remained the venue for the annual exhibition.

The present standing and popularity of pastel owes much to the exciting and varied work of the members of the Pastel Society and, of course, to the direction and enthusiasm of its different presidents over the years. The current president is Cheryl Culver RBA. As well as the annual exhibition, which remains the highlight of the year’s events, the society organises tutorial workshops, demonstrations and lectures in different parts of the country to promote the medium. It continues to play an important and influential role in the contemporary art scene.

'PASTEL' a short article by Leigh Parry Past President.

PASTEL is dry, durable and as permanent as the paper, board or other support to which it is applied so long as the surface of the painting is not rubbed or allowed to get damp. If not protected under glass in a frame, pastels may be stored quite safely between sheets of folded paper secured so that the work does not slide about. Their durability is exemplified by the fact that the earliest exponents of this art lived about 30,000 BC and the work of these cave dwellers has lasted until today. They had white chalk, various earth colours, e.g. red and yellow, black from charring in the fire and the cave wall to work on. Present day pastels, highly refined and rigorously tested are claimed to have an almost limitless shelf life. These soft pastels may be applied in light strokes or heavily and then rubbed into coloured paper or white paper tinted with a watercolour wash. They marry with charcoal, coloured conte crayons and even ink for preliminary drawings, but not over graphite pencil lines.

This medium gives unlimited scope to all varieties of thinking and methods of execution in present day art. Many are the examples and many the styles possible with this versatile medium, as may be seen by such masters of the past from the precise portrait drawings of Holbein, through the silky impastos of Manet to the vigorous and apparent abandon of stokes and rubbings of Degas - but with what breath-taking precision is the abandon! That the freshness of the medium lasts may be seen also for example in the work of Maurice de la Tour 1704 - 1788 e.g. the glowing portrait of Mr Henry Dawkins in the National Gallery, apparently as fresh as the day it was painted. 

The Pastel Society in its present form was instituted in 1898. There were seventy-seven members, among them such well-known names as H. B. Brabazon, George Clausen RA, W. Q. Orchardson RA, Solomon J. Solomon and the founder G. F. Watts RA in the list of original members. The Society joined the Federation of British Artists at the Mall Galleries in 1970.

Featured Artist

Roger Dellar
dellar rainy day the Strand

 ' Rainy Day, the Strand '
by 
Roger Dellar

 

Roger Dellar PS RI ROI

Roger Dellar works from his studio in Surrey. He has a keen interest in people and their behaviour, and is fascinated by the way the play of light transforms a subject; either working in the studio or plein air.
He is a member of The Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolour, The Pastel Society, and The Royal Institute of Oil Painters. Since 1996 has been an active member of The Wapping Group. He has won numerous awards
His interest in observing people in their environments has influenced him to record and interpret them, capturing light effects.

Exhibitions:

He regularly exhibits in galleries in the UK and has had several one man exhibitions.
Represented in USA by the Peninsula Gallery Lewes Delaware.

National Exhibitions:

The Royal Water-colour Society, at the Bankside Gallery.
The Pastel Society.
The Royal Society of Marine Artists.
The New English Art Club
The Royal Institute of Painters in Water-colour.
The Royal Institute of Oil Painters.
The Royal Society of Portrait Painters.
The Royal Society of British Artists, all at the Mall Galleries London.
The Singer & Friedlander/Sunday Times Watercolour Exhibition.
The Royal West of England Academy, at Bristol.
The Royal Academy, London.

Teaching:

He regularly tutors to Art Societies working in all mediums.
Holds a City & Guilds Teaching Certificate.
Tutoring at Dedham Hall Dedham Essex. The Watershed Studio, St Osyth, Essex.
Tutoring Workshops in Delaware USA.

Membership:

1996 elected a member of The Wapping Group of Artists.
1997 elected a member of The Chelsea Art Society.
2000 elected a member of The Langham Sketching Club.
2001 elected a member of The R.I. (The Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colour).
2002 elected to R.I. Council.
2003 elected a member of The Pastel Society. 2008 elected Pastel Society Council. 2011 Vice president.
2006 elected an Associate of The ROI. (The Royal Institute of Oil Painters).
2008 elected full member of the ROI. 2009 elected ROI Council.
2011 Honary President of Haslemere Art Society.

Residences:

1997 Invited Artist in Residence for the Petersfield Music Festival.
1996 - 1998 Artist in Residence at Petworth House.
2005, 2007,2009, 2011 Invited Artist in Residence for Guildford International Music Festival.
2005 Invited Artist for Festival of the Sea Portsmouth.

Awards:

1999 & 2005 R.O.I prize winner Non-Member painter award.
2000 Pastel Society Annie Longley award.
2000 Royal Watercolour Society Abbott & Holder travel award.
2002 R.O.I. The Stanley Grimm Award.
2003 Pastel Society Unison Pastel Award.
2003 R.I. Llewellyn Alexander Award.
2004 & 2006 Pastel Society Daler Rowney Award of Excellence.
2009 ROI Cornelissen Prize for Painting
2010 Pastel Society Ranelagh Press Award.
2010 The Bath Prize Best Oil Painting.
2010 ROI Le Clerc Fowle Medal
2011 Pastel Society Unison Pastel Award.
2011 Pastel Society Anthony J Lester Arts Critic Award.
2011 Pastel Society The Arts Club Award.
2011 Honary Mention Prize Plein Air Easton USA
2014 1st Prize in The Chelsea Framers Gallery Plein Air Painting Competition Painting Chelsea
2015 ROI Cornelissen & Son Prize for Painting.
2015 ROI Dartington Crystal Chalice Award.
2016 RI Neil Meacher Sketching Prize.
2016 Art in the Open Ireland Plein Air competition, Silver Award for the Competition,
and in the QUICK Draw awarded Second Place.
2016 Paint Out Norwich, Awarded Oils Second Prize.

Publications:

Featured in WATERCOLOUR INNOVATIONS by Jackie Simmonds.
Contributor to the Artist Magazine, Artist and Illustrator Magazine
Has work in collection of Surrey University.
'Painting Travels in Portugal and Spain'

Website: http://www.rogerdellar.com 

 

     


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