Yesterday I went into NYC again to National Arts Club, this time to see American Impressionist painter Maria Merino do a pastel demonstration hosted by the Pastel Society of America (PSA). I have been a fan of hers for awhile, and follow her on both Facebook and Instagram. Check out her website here and see some of her amazing work. Not only do I love this woman’s art, but her spirit is beautiful; she is truly wonderful to be around. She hugs as well as I do and feels like a soul-sister.
You can see step by step photos below of the demo. She used a photo from her beloved Giverny as a reference. She started out with a rough charcoal sketch on sanded Wallis paper, followed by a partial watercolor underpainting. But then the vigorous work began!
She is percussive with the pastels, which she calls “sticks of joy.” She beats out a drumroll tattoo with them, in a robust Morris code. She braces herself with feet apart, holds on for dear life to her board, and practically pounds. Sometimes she twists and grinds them into the surface, sometimes they dance, twirl, or even roll over the page. She paints to music (the band Yes!), and I see why. She echoes the beat, and pours herself not only physically, but heart and soul into the process. She says she “weaves color,” and that “adjacent color is everything”. She is painting what she feels, as well as what she remembers of the wind that was there in those willows. And she uses lots of pressure with the pigment to bring out the richness of saturated color that she likes so much in sumptuous fabric. It was like a cardio workout, leaving even the audience breathless, until we erupted into hooting and hollering applause. Such genuine intensity and passion I have not seen in a long time, and thank her so much for that.
So scroll all the way down in this post to see it all. The PSA president Jimmy Wright interrupted her painting to show the audience her sketch books, which are just as energetic, although in monotone. Also check out how many broken bits of pastel were left strewn on her easel! But especially notice my favorite photos– the details (lots of them!) toward the end where you can see her impasto color reverberating close up.
All I can say is bravo. This is an artist to watch and treasure. Collect her work too if you can!