Pastelist Distinguished by Queen

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Ken Gofton, a contributing writer to The Pastel Journal from the UK, recognizes that those of us on the American side of the Atlantic, might find the British custom of handing out titles somewhat amusing. Still, as Ken suggests, there is something to be said for publicly honoring individuals who’ve made a contribution to society. And, most recently, the Queen chose to honor a pastel artist, so you won’t hear any argument from me! Here’s what Ken reports:
 
Paula Rego, an internationally recognized pastel artist, is now Dame Paula Rego. Her new title was announced in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in recognition of the painter’s service to the arts. The title ‘Dame’ is one of the highest  that can be bestowed. Other holders of the title include Oscar-winning actress Dame Judi Dench and double-gold Olympics athlete Dame Kelly Holmes.

Dame Paula Rego, born in Portugal, but a resident of London for more than 50 years, was profiled in the December 2006 issue of The Pastel Journal. As she explained at the time, she used to paint in acrylics, only using pastel to establish an initial drawing. On a  whim, she decided one day to complete a work in pastel, and has stayed with the medium ever since. She says that, at heart, she prefers drawing to painting, which is why she feels at home with pastels. However, the switch meant that she had to completely change her way of working. With acrylics, she could paint from her imagination. With pastels, she finds she must work from live models and arranged stage sets. Her paintings, often informed by social issues or her interpretation of fairy stories, are notoriously emotional and disturbing. Viewers are often left with the feeling that they’ve burst in on a scene in whcih something unpleasant has just happened, or is  about to happen.

As for the artist’s reaction to her new title, London’s newspaper The Independent Her many friends in the art world will think she is being too modest.
reported on Saturday that Rego was baffled by the honour. “I’m so proud,” she added. “I’m totally surprised by it. What’s it for?”

If you’d like to read the 2006 article about the artist that appeared in The Pastel Journal, visit our website to get a free download.

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