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Second place in L'Annual PASTEL 100


Sylvie Poirson

"My regular walks along rivers made me want to work on the theme of water in motion as representative of a nonfiguative living spirit,” says French artist Sylvie Poirson ( “My challenge was to make the dynamics of water felt through a painting.” From this concept came the artist’s Blue Harmony series. Her winning paint-ing (page 83), which shares the series’ name, is the second work in this collection, the first being of a larger and rectangular format. Poirson feels that the smaller, square format helped her achieve a more abstract image and energetic composition.

The effect wasn’t lost on Holmes, who remarked that the artist “is to be admired for her great strength in the technical ability to paint an ever-moving, abstract impression of water with such depth and consistent sur-face quality. Each passage and plateau include complete varieties of form, shape, contrast and direction.”

Poirson enjoyed working with a palette of blues (her favorite color), grays and mauves. “The important thing was to respect dark and light contrasts in order to bring the movement to life,” she says. The artist typically works on a support with a lot of tooth—either Sennelier La Carte pastel card or UART sanded pastel paper. She finds that these surfaces can handle the wetness of alcohol or water mixed with gouache or watercolor—which she uses as an underlayer for the pastel—and also accept multiple veils of pigment layers. Although Poirson works with an extensive variety of pastel brands, she typically begins a painting with Giraults. “They have a good texture—not too soft,” she says, “and their range of blues, purples and grays is very rich.”

Poirson, a self-taught pastelist, admits that at times she’s inclined to follow her instincts rather than adhere to a particular process or set of rules. “It’s good to let yourself be guided by your hand,” she says. “You get more free and interesting results. I really enjoyed working on Blue Harmony in a freer spirit and with faster gestures.”

Page 82 and 83 of the American magazine "Pastel Journal" Spring 2021
Page 84 and 85 of the American magazine "Pastel Journal" Spring 2021