The exciting world and natural beauty of outdoor art is on display through a wide array of vivid colors at Foxdale Village Retirement Community.
The Central Pennsylvania Pastel Society will have its pastel paintings exhibited in the second-floor gallery through Oct. 9, featuring 35 paintings by 20 artists. The exhibit, titled “Pure Color,” includes pastels created using thousands of colors and featuring a variety of sceneries in nature.
Subjects featured in the artwork include landscape, portrait, still life and abstract, with a large number of them “en plein air,” the French expression meaning “in the open air.”
The pastel exhibit was organized by Dot Cecil, of the Foxdale arts and acquisitions committee, and Susan Nicholas Gephart, president of the Central Pennsylvania Pastel Society.
Gephart is in charge of the exhibit and has been painting award-winning plein air landscapes for 30 years. Plein air painting originated in France in the mid-19th century and the popularity of outdoor painting has endured into the 21st century. Many artists feel a sense of peace and tranquility with painting in the woods, and after 30 years in the business, Gephart said she knows the feeling.
“Since early childhood, I have felt completely comfortable in the solitude of the forest,” said Gephart, who uses the natural surrounding as one of the many varied themes in her paintings.
“While painting in the woods, all the senses are attuned to the smells, sounds and feelings emoted in response to experiences, such as dappled light on fall leaves.”
Part of the fun of plein air painting is the opportunity to step into unknown territory and take risks, something Gephart is no stranger to.
“Adventure and experimentation are chosen over safe and predictable outcomes,” Gephart said. “Keeping my mind’s eye open for unique, electric reactions and challenges in pastels and oils continues to excite and rejuvenate my ongoing love of painting sky, water and earth.”
The Central Pennsylvania Pastel Society, formed in 2004, has 50 members and represents artists in central Pennsylvania who are interested in the medium of soft pastel. Each year, the society organizes exhibitions, offers member meetings to share work and ideas, organizes plein air painting opportunities and promotes artistic development for its members.
“Our members are mainly from central Pennsylvania, but one-third are from across the state and out of state as far as Canada,” Gephart said.
“Our organization has been hosting a national artist to come and teach instruction in plein air each summer,” Gephart said.
She said she takes great pride in her work and added that the medium of plein air pastels has progressed tremendously in the past 20 years, as the product choices continue to expand.
“This medium gets respect equal to oils because of the pure color pigments used in making them,” Gephart said. “There are thousands of colors, ranging in softness and hardness, each creating a different technique in application. Additional colors are created by overlaying with different pressures of the hand.”
Many of the artists’ works displayed in the exhibit are for sale.
Central Pennsylvania Pastel Society exhibit "Pure Color" is on display through Oct. 9 in the second-floor gallery at Foxdale Village Retirement Community, 500 E. Marylyn Ave., State College. Call 238-3322 or visit www.centralpapastel.org for more information.