Great Pastels | Desmond O’Hagan on Ilya Repin

For the February 2014 introduction of a new Pastel Journal column, “Great Pastels,” Denver-based artist Desmond O’Hagan introduces readers to the 19th-century Russian painter, Ilya Repin, a painter known for his portraits as well as large, emotionally infused scenes depicting events in Russian history. O’Hagan writes this about the painter’s background: “Repin was known for his portraits and also for his large emotionally infused scenes that highlighted the events of his time and the history of Russia.  He was born in the town of Chuhuiv in the region of Sloboda Ukraine.  After studying with a local painter, he was accepted at the Imperial Academy of Arts in Saint Petersburg.  Between 1873 and 1876, he traveled and lived in Paris and was influenced by the French impressionists.  Included in his wide variety of subjects were the Russian and Ukrainian country folk.  His portrait work included paintings of Leo Tolstoy, Tsar Nicholas II, the aristocracy and other intelligentsia. A common effect through most of his paintings is capturing human emotion.”

In the February 2014 issue of Pastel Journal, O’Hagan presents Repin’s Portrait of Abram Efimovich as his pick for a “Great Pastel.” What makes this pastel unique,” he says, “is with a few strokes and minimal color, he still achieves the emotion of his larger canvases.”

O’Hagan’s own painting style features a bold and direct approach that is, in some ways, directly influenced by the work of Repin and other 19th-century Russian painters, he says. Whether a busy streetscape or figure-focused interior scene, the artist remains attentive to the fundamentals of design and color qualities, which can be seen in this small sampling of his work:

Carnival at Dusk, Bordeaux 18x24 pastel

Carnival at Dusk, Bordeaux (pastel, 18×24) by Desmond O’Hagan

Dancer at Rehearsal-Desmond-Ohagan

Dancer at Rehearsal (pastel, 18×24) by Desmond O’Hagan










Get all six issues of Pastel Journal: The 2013 Annual CD is now on sale!

Subscribe to Pastel Journal magazine

Watch pastel art workshops on demand at ArtistsNetwork.TV

Get unlimited access to over 100 art instruction ebooks.

Online seminars for fine artists


You may also like these articles: