Focus on Art – december 2011

Focus on Art

By Rob Mohr

A Fantasy of Color and Texture: The pastel paintings of Anita Lee


focus-dec11-2“The motivation for my seemingly empty landscapes is discovering a way to create a peaceful, serene world removed from the insanity of the one we are captured in.  I strive to create a fantasy of a world full of goodness, color and beauty.”

Anita Lee

Anita’s distinctive voice, comprehensive understanding of color, and ability to see beyond the surface of the natural world, combine to create spiritually-affective paintings that are unique here at Lakeside. The integrated presence evident in Anita’s ethereal pastel landscapes comes from her ability to see beyond the earth’s apparent ‘local color’ into the deeper emotional and spiritual qualities of the environment.

A complex artist, who has experienced success with fiber sculptures, oil paintings and with a variety of other mediums, Anita continues to explore new ways to express her observations and emotions. Her growing competence with pastels allows her to create landscapes that entice the viewer to meditate on the nature of the earth we inhabit.

Her mastery of the pastel medium begins with the careful preparation of the board she will paint on. First she applies two coats of gesso, then a coat of full hue orange and a final coat of clear acrylic mixed with fine pumice dust. The orange becomes liquid light glowing under the acrylic surface, while the fine pumice allows Anita to create a texture that adds to the effect of light coming from within the work. (Santiago Canyon and Sunset/Lake Chapala)

“I love color. My professional education helped me understand that to imbibe an emotional quality in my work it does not matter so much what color I use if the intensity of hue is right.”

Anita’s works demonstrate that color imparts the same energy as light and produces physiological changes in human beings. Viewers’ emotions are awakened as the colors stimulate, excite, depress, tranquilize, increase appetite or create a feeling of warmth or coolness. ‘Local color’ reinforces the expected and least interesting aspect of the landscape, where the intentional use of ‘hidden colors’ arouses emotions.  Colors affect the body as well as the mind. Red, orange and yellow stimulate the senses while blue and green calm.

She begins a painting with hard pastels to sketch and compose, then adds medium pastels as fields of color, then finishes with an overlay of soft pastels. To achieve an atmospheric color that has emotional impact using pastels requires a deft hand and keen awareness of the subtleties of the medium. Mixing colors as with oil paint is not possible. In addition to layering colors, Anita, like the impressionist, uses points of color, hatching and crosshatching, and scumbling lighter colors over darker colors to enable the viewer to mix colors optically. Over 1,000 different hues ranging from dark tones to light are needed to insure the right hues and tones are available. Edgar Degas perfected the use of pastels in his impressionistic works, and his protégé, Mary Cassatt, introduced the use to pastels to her friends in Philadelphia and Washington which enabled the spread of the medium throughout the US and Mexico.,

Anita’s art work has been exhibited in major West Coast competitive shows and in a number of museums and gallery’s including the Art Institute in Chicago, Matrix Galleries in Sacramento, and the Society of Pastel Artist of the Serra.  Her paintings will be on exhibition at Sol Mexicana Gallery,#13 Colon,  Ajijic, with an opening reception December 29th from 3 to 6PM. Don’t miss this exciting exhibition.


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