Artist Kathy Dolan reveals the secrets to pastels at La Cloche show workshop

La Cloche Distinguished Artist Kathy Dolan presented a workshop on pastel landscapes prior to the opening of the 39th La Cloche Art Show in Whitefish Falls. photo by Michael Erskine

WHITEFISH FALLS—You could literally hear the pastels scrape across the paper set on the easel in the Whitefish Falls Fire Hall as this year’s La Cloche Art Show Distinguished Artist Kathy Dolan delivered a workshop on how she creates her award winning landscapes.

“I prefer landscapes to doing portraits (trees don’t argue),” she joked to the packed house leaning forward in their chairs to hang on her every word.

Ms. Dolan loved to draw as a child and enjoyed art classes she took throughout high school, but today she found herself in the accustomed role of teacher (she teaches art classes during the winter in Florida).

“I find that you learn so much from teaching,” she said.

Although marriage, work and the rigours of raising a family forced her to set aside her art aspirations for a while, by the late ‘90s she rekindled her passion for art when she took a watercolour course at a local college. It was at the 22nd LaCloche Art Show that she entered her first juried show. That piece not only gained a treasured spot on the hallowed walls of the show, it also quickly garnered a red dot (sold).

Ms. Dolan has gone on to master many mediums through countless workshops and classes, developing an innate sense of life and light in her works. She holds a Master Pastellist designation with the Pastel Artists of Canada and is a signature member of the Society of Canadian Artists, is a member of the Northern Ontario Art Association, the Pencil Art Society, the Sudbury Art Club and Sudbury Art Council.

Ms. Dolan noted that she uses sanded paper from Uart as a base for her works. “I find it holds a lot of layers,” she said. “You can put multiple layers if you apply the pastel light enough. If I only use one type of paper, I would use that.”

As to pastels, Ms. Dolan tends to the midrange weight, stepping down to softer weight for the later stages. “The softer pastels have less binder, but they are more expensive,” she said. Quality art calls for quality materials, the Diane Townsend pastels can cost upwards of $20 a stick. “There are also NuPastel that are very good, but not so expensive.”

Ms. Dolan explained the use of underpaintings, placing a preliminary painting on the paper (in pastel or even watercolour or acrylic) that can add depth and warmth of colour to the created image if the layers of pastel are applied with the right weight.

By spraying water (or alcohol) on the image, the pastels can be placed in discrete layers without them blending, even after the coating dries. Ms. Dolan eschews the use of fixative coatings on her works. “I find they change the colour registers,” she said. “I have tried many different kinds and ways of doing it. It has never worked out for me.”

Ms. Dolan places a sheet of translucent tissue paper over the works for transport and when matting the work, she creates an innovative gap between the face of the work and the matt. “That way any dust falls between the crack and not on the edge of the matt.”

Following her workshop presentation, Ms. Dolan spoke with the artists one on one, while attendees poured over the materials and works that she had on display.

A number of Ms. Dolan’s works can be seen hanging in the current La Cloche Art Show that runs to Sunday, July 10 and raffle tickets can be purchased to win one of Ms. Dolan’s works while attending the show.