‘Pastel Passions and Beyond’ showcases versatility of medium

Susan Nicholas Gephart’s “Valley Cloud Passages” is among the pastels to be exhibited in “Pastel Passions and Beyond” at State College Framing Co. and Gallery. The exhibition runs through June 11.
Susan Nicholas Gephart’s “Valley Cloud Passages” is among the pastels to be exhibited in “Pastel Passions and Beyond” at State College Framing Co. and Gallery. The exhibition runs through June 11. Photo provided

For the next five weeks, the Central Pennsylvania Pastel Society members will be showcasing their talents at the State College Framing Co.’s gallery. “Pastel Passions and Beyond” highlights the power of the pastel medium and the artistic development of its passionate members.

Founded by Jill Foster in the fall of 2004, the CPPS is dedicated to the celebration of working with pastels. With a roster ranging from novices looking to further immerse themselves in their hobby to award-winning professionals, the artists of the CPPS are excited to share with the community the beauty of their preferred medium.

“The CPPS is a diverse group that works in representational and abstract styles,” said Roxanne Naydan, an artist with the CPPS and an Exhibition Committee member. “Their artwork encompasses various genres including portraiture, still-life, landscapes and cityscapes while showcasing their unique and exciting approaches and techniques.”

One of the stated goals of the CPPS is “to raise public awareness of pastel as an artistic medium.” In addition to the craftsmanship being displayed at the State College Framing Company, this exhibition will also allow the viewer to gain a better understanding of the almost infinite options that pastels allow the artist to pursue.

“Pastel painting is an extremely tactile and immediate medium, perfect for creative self-expression,” Naydan said. “No other medium allows you to apply rich, pure color to the support as quickly as you can with pastels.”

Working with pastels also helps serve as a gateway to other mediums and encourages the artist to explore and experiment. While it is fairly obvious that “Pastel Passions and Beyond” will be predominately presenting works that have utilized the pastel medium, the public will also have the chance to see oil paintings, watercolors and acrylics.

“Strokes of pastels can be very assertive or exquisitely nuanced and sensitive,” Naydan said. “The wide varieties of marks as well as color that can be described are limitless. Any extended foray into the pastel medium can bring the energy and intensity of pastel painting to one’s work in different mediums.”

“The pastel medium is very versatile in ways that you can approach creativity with them,” said Susan Nicholas Gephart, area artist and former CPPS president and vice president. “Often pastel artists are encouraged to experiment with underpainting in mediums such as watercolor and then pastel is applied on top. I have seen many oil painters or watercolorists turn to pastels as their favorite medium. Personally, I have discovered many components from the use of other mediums that help me create a better pastel.”

The magic of pastels isn’t just found on the canvas either. Thanks to their chemical makeup, pastels seem to define aging and possess the ability to retain their brilliant splashes of original color throughout the ticking brutality of time.

“The medium of pastels is centuries old and many of the artworks painted in pastel seem as fresh as the day they were created,” Naydan explained. “Pastels do not yellow and the color does not oxidize, change or fade with age. Pastels are a perfect medium if you want to work on a painting over a series of days, weeks or even months. If properly stored, you can return to it and continue working in a seamless fashion.”

With more than 20 featured artists, “Pastel Passions and Beyond” will give Centre County the ideal opportunity to gain a greater perspective and appreciation of the artists whom they share a community with. On Friday, those in attendance will also be able to learn more about the stories that served as the inspiration behind many of the pieces directly from the artists at the opening reception.

“There will be something for everyone here, and the public will find superb works of art,” Naydan said. “Members of the CPPS will be on hand to greet the public, demonstrate the pastel painting process and talk about the medium.”

“The State College Framing Co. and Gallery will be beautifully lit and professionally displayed,” Gephart said. “We are honored to be showing and look forward to a fun opening reception.”


  • What: “Pastel Passions and Beyond”
  • When: 5:30-8 p.m. opening reception Friday; exhibition through June 11
  • Where: State College Framing Co. and Gallery, 160 Rolling Ridge Drive, State College
  • Info: www.centralpapastel .com