Community Updates Blog

This Month in the Towne Square Gallery: November 2013

A PASTEL EXHIBIT FOR NOVEMBER – The Towne Square Gallery at Crane’s Mill welcomes another exciting exhibition.

A pastel exhibit runs all November long at Crane's Mill

The Pastel Society of New Jersey returns this month to our Towne Square Gallery.  The Society was founded in 2005 to highlight the work of influential pastellists who live here.  Although some were members of the Pastel Society of America, they had no state organization for support.  Since 2005, the organization has grown impressively.

The mission of the society is to “secure the membership of artists dedicated to pastel painting, exhibit pastels of professional quality, expand the opportunities for artists working in pastel through exhibits and information, and promote public interest in traditional dry pastel painting in New Jersey”.    To learn more, check the website pastelsocietynj.org.     Pastel is a pigment that has been combined with a liquid binder such as a gum to form a paste that is shaped into sticks and allowed to dry.  The result is similar in appearance to colored chalk, although most pastels contain no actual chalk—just pigment and gum.  The amount and type of binder present determines whether the pastel will be classified as hard or soft; most pastellists rely on soft.

Pastel requires a surface with some “tooth” so that the pigment will stick.  Most pastel artists work on some form of paper—either a paper with a naturally rough texture or else a paper that has been prepared with pumice or some other gritty substance.  It is possible to prepare wood or other surfaces for use with pastel.  The rougher the surface, the more pastel it can take.

Pastel as a medium was first popularized in the early 18th century, and the impressionists Edgar Degas and Mary Cassatt brought it renewed attention.  The current interest in pastel began in the 1970’s with the formation of the Pastel Society of America.

Mary Koether, Gallery Coordinator

Thank you to Mary Koether for providing this article to the Millstream, our community’s monthly resident newsletter.