Ask Pam Ernst what she paints, and you'll wonder why you had to ask.
“Jensen’s Lullaby” is one of a new collection of abstracts by Duane Gardner debuting Monday at the Arts Center of the Ozarks.
"Landscapes," she says, and you realize she's married to photographer Tim Ernst, who is famous for his photographs of Arkansas' most breathtaking landscapes. It makes it easy for her to find scenes she wants to capture in her own medium.
Ozark Pastel Society
WHEN — Nov. 9-27, with a reception 6-8 p.m. Thursday & an open house 1-3 p.m. Nov. 15 for the OPS show
WHERE — In the ACO galleries
COST — Free
INFO — 751-5441 or acozarks.org
In the other ACO gallery, one artist will fill the walls. Duane Gardner generally creates large-scale abstracts, but “these paintings do have a specific idea behind them,” the Dallas-born artist says.
“The name of the show is ‘About a Boy,’ so all of the paintings are about him or the idea of having a child, a nickname we call him, a lullaby we sing him,” he says. “We just had our first child, and he will be a year old in a week.
“I know people think abstract work is easy,” says Gardner, who studied art at the University of North Texas. “For me it never is. In the beginning, it was more about composition, color, things like that. In college, I worked with shapes a lot. I wasn’t trying to put out any kind of idea, so if somebody saw something new every time they looked at it, it was a success.
“But I got to a point where I wanted to convey ideas, thoughts, emotions… I was hesitant to use text, but I decided to give that a try,” he recalls. “I didn’t want it to be right there in your face, so I thought, ‘I’m going to translate it into Spanish.’”
Sharing his emotions about his son with an audience excites Gardner, but not as much as sharing them with his wife, Leslie. She won’t see the collection of paintings until the show debuts at ACO.
“Painting for me is about allowing the history of the piece to show as I am creating it,” he says. “I am continually editing the piece, adding and subtracting paint, lines, shapes, as I am working on it — and she sees all of that. This time, she’ll see it with fresh eyes.”
"I love to do plein air painting," she says enthusiastically. "When Tim's taking photographs, I can set up and paint."
She describes what she does as "painting" even though she works with dry pastels instead of oil pastels. Dry pastels -- sometimes called "soft" pastels -- might look like colored chalk or crayons, but the medium was first mentioned by Leonardo da Vinci in 1495, and the French term "pastel" appeared in 1662.
What Ernst loves is the "direct, hands-on contact with the medium -- which is different than watercolor and oil," she says. "It's very personal because your hand is in it. You don't have a brush separating you from the medium."
Ernst says she has always enjoyed drawing, but she never had time to pursue it seriously until she met Tim Ernst -- on a hiking trail, of course -- fell in love and moved out near the Buffalo River. "He encouraged me to try other mediums," she says, and a class in Fayetteville introduced her to pastels. She tried oils, she says, but mixing colors was just too complicated.
"With pastels, the colors are before you, and there they are," she says.
Ernst is coordinator of the Ozark Pastel Society's annual show, opening Monday at the Arts Center of the Ozarks. The group is a small but active one, she says, working to "celebrate pastels," and the show is an open one.
"So that means it's not pre-juried," she says. "Everyone will bring their artwork on Nov. 7 and enter it then. We accept everything that comes in.
"And we always fill the space up."
NAN What's Up on 11/06/2015
Print Headline: Nothing Dull About Pastels