Pure Pigment: Pastels by Colette Odya Smith and Darron Lillian
July 23–October 7, 2015
Darron Lillian, Turquoise House on Old 98, Pastel on paper, 2012Colette Odya Smith, Looking Lively, Pastel and watercolor, 2015
Darron Lillian is a plein air artist with a keen eye for composition whose rough texture and loose, individual strokes capture the immediacy of the moment. His artwork depicts the everyday landmarks you might see out on the back roads and byways and the everyday ephemera of roads, power poles, signs, and fences are focal points. His images are defined by the essence of the moment – highlighting the seasonal light and the time of day.
Colette transforms dry, opaque pastel into fluid, shimmering transparent effects. Her sense of perspective is ambiguous and references to a horizon are obscured with water, rocks, and vegetation coming to the fore. Her focus is on the light filtering through the trees and reflections on the water creating sanctuaries that are both realistic and otherworldly.
Recognized for their brilliant hues and spontaneous style, pastels consist of a dry or powdered pigment held together by a binder. Most contemporary pastel artists trace their roots to the French Impressionists. Traditionally, the art academies taught drawing with pastels as the preliminary framework for painting. However, the Impressionists and others in the late nineteenth century experimented with ways to artistically break with the established order. These artists rejected traditional rules of composition and sought to express immediacy in their work by depicting subjects in real-time action. The loose, organic quality of pastels facilitated the goal of capturing fleeting moments and conveying modernity. Drawing became the objective, not merely the tool.