Pastel artist Ray Hassard doesn’t recall exactly how long it took him to complete The Path to Giverny, his Gold Award-winning painting in the 15th Annual Pastel 100 Competition, but he averages about two to three days on a studio piece. This timeframe often frustrates him because, in comparison, he can complete two or three plein air works in a single day. “You either run out of time or it starts to rain when you’re outside, or something happens that makes you stop,” the Cincinnati, Ohio-based artist says. “I try to pay attention now to when I’m just noodling around and putting little things here and there, and they’re not doing anything to improve the painting. That’s usually when I’m finished.”
Although he didn’t paint his prizewinner on site, Hassard did spend the month between inspiration and creation soaking up the beauty of France. His artist-in-residence stint included a month’s lodging in a small house—and no stringent artistic requirements. Hassard says he’d start each morning with a trip to the patisserie and then, weather permitting, he’d head out to paint. When the elements proved too rainy or cold, Hassard set up still lifes inside or worked from photos.
Without the distractions of day-to-day life back home, the artist completed 37 paintings during his residency, working in pastel, watercolor and sepia ink. (See some of these works, below.) His paintings included many traditional landscapes, but he also captured everyday scenes, such as men fixing the road in front of his temporary house. “I ran out of steam toward the end actually, but at first, everything was screaming, “Paint me, paint me,’’’ he says. “I couldn’t work fast enough.” In addition to painting, he spent his days exploring the romantic village scenery and brushing up on his French.
Hassard describes the freedom from daily life and chores as one of the biggest benefits of the residency. “Nobody bothers you,” he says. “You’re free to do nothing but paint all day. I guess some people wouldn’t like the isolation of it, but I think being able to do that is a real treat. I liked not having to worry about anything except rustling up some meals and finding stuff to paint. You get really intense. You spend a lot of time just painting that you can’t do at home.”
Traverse the Giverny countryside below through Hassard’s works. For more about the artist and his award-winning The Road to Giverny, see the April 2014 issue of Pastel Journal, available at http://bit.ly/PAS0414. See a video slideshow of the 15th Annual Pastel 100 top award and category winners here.
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