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Summer in Pastels comes to Atascadero Library

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No matter what else she tries, Paso Robles artist Linda Garen Smith keeps coming back to pastels.

"My mother gave me a little set of Rembrandt pastels many, many years ago," Smith said. "There was something about the vibrancy and purity of the colors. My best work is always in pastels."

BEAUTIFUL STRANGER The piece Man With A Pearl Earring is based on someone that Paso Robles artist Linda Garen Smith saw at a renaissance faire. - IMAGE COURTESY OF LINDA GAREN SMITH
  • Image Courtesy Of Linda Garen Smith
  • BEAUTIFUL STRANGER The piece Man With A Pearl Earring is based on someone that Paso Robles artist Linda Garen Smith saw at a renaissance faire.

Smith's pastel work, along with that of Carolyn Braun, Susan Clark, Shelley Snow, Ginger Toomer, and Priscilla White, is currently on display at the Atascadero Library as part of the Summer in Pastels show put on by the Pastel Artists of the Central Coast. These artists create their paintings using a powdered pigment that is rolled into sticks.

While Smith often takes her inspiration from nature, she's looking for more than just a pretty scene when she paints.

"There needs to be a story there," Smith said. "I try to paint an emotional response to something rather than the object itself."

Her piece, Man With A Pearl Earring (a nod to the famous Johannes Vermeer piece, Girl with a Pearl Earring) is based off a photo that Smith took of an actor at a Renaissance faire. She describes her artistic style as "colorful."

"There are so many ways to paint, there are so many colors," Smith said. "I'm still trying to settle into something."

Shelley Snow, another Paso Robles pastel artist, loves pastels because they can perform like oil paints or even water colors depending on how they're used.

RODEO People watching at a rodeo event at the California Mid-State Fair inspired Paso Robles artist Shelley Snow to create a series of pastel paintings, including Hangin' Out. - IMAGE COURTESY OF SHELLEY SNOW
  • Image Courtesy Of Shelley Snow
  • RODEO People watching at a rodeo event at the California Mid-State Fair inspired Paso Robles artist Shelley Snow to create a series of pastel paintings, including Hangin' Out.

Snow takes her inspiration from people. While people were watching a rodeo event at the California Mid-State Fair, Snow was inspired to create a series of paintings, including Hangin' Out.

"They're very seriously watching this stuff," Snow said. "I'm kind of interested in the drama of people."

While Snow also works in landscapes and portraits, her work remains consistent stylistically.

"I tend to be very realistic," she said. "It's representational."

Snow hopes viewers of the show will walk away with a new appreciation for her favorite artists' tool.

"I would like them to see pastels as a medium," Snow said. "The brilliance and the textures of pastels ... it's fascinating. We're all nuts about pastels." Δ

Arts Writer Ryah Cooley loves Degas' work with pastels. Contact her at rcooley@newtimesslo.com.

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