July 17, 2024

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Shilei He’s Luminous Pastels | Artists Network

6 min read
Shilei He’s Luminous Pastels | Artists Network

Steeping in Gold: A muted stillness in Shilei He’s winning operate both conveys and invites contemplation.

The lifelike excellent of Shilei He’s exquisitely developed and rendered portrait, A Kashgar Lady, elevated this piece to earn the Pastel Journal Award of Excellence. Portrayed in profile perspective, the or else ordinary woman can take on a noble air, generally owing to her gold-threaded head scarf and ornate gold earring. The artist’s use of delicate lighting and a luxurious deep-purple background boost the genteel result. In point, it was the cloth’s vibrant metallic sheen, with its bright glints, easy folds and refined texture, that drew He, of Shanghai, China, to paint this portrait. “Personally, I desire a wide range of shiny objects, as nicely as all those that function a sturdy texture,” states He, “so I attempt to paint them as substantially as possible.”

A Kashgar Female (pastel on cardboard sealed with acrylic primer, 13 7/10 x 13 7/10)

An Perfect Representation

Suffused with a quiet dignity, A Kashgar Girl pays tribute to the people today from a specific ethnic place. The artist identifies Kashgar as an oasis metropolis in Xinjiang, in significantly Western China. It was as soon as the epicenter of the historical Silk Street trade route. “Most of the women of all ages from that region are Muslim, and they use all forms of head scarves, in accordance to their age and choices. They check out this apply as a variety of regard for women, and it has turn into a tradition,” he suggests.

The topic in He’s prizewinning portrait is a lady the artist satisfied at a food in Shanghai, in 2019. “Her visual appearance intrigued me, so I took a photograph of her before taking in,” says the artist. Each individual stroke of pastel in this masterwork coalesces to evoke a splendid perception of texture, heat, finesse and existence.

Portrait & Figure juror Corey Pitkin praised A Kashar Lady as a “tour-de-power of classical portraiture.” The juror went on to say, “The handling of the pastel on the woman’s facial area has echoes of Rubens in its thorough rendering. The values are expertly managed with beautiful tender transitions that hyperlink all of the smaller styles collectively into a cohesive entire. The flesh has a body weight to it that’s palpable. You can sense the warmth of her pores and skin. Complementing all this are the looser marks of her head scarf, with the highlights cascading fantastically across its satiny floor.”

Master of the Medium

Pastel is, hands down, He’s medium of selection. “I think pastel operates are extra resilient than oil paintings in terms of preserving the vibrancy of the shades,” he claims. “Also, I like how the medium is delivered straight from the hand to the area, so it conveys information and facts speedier than other media, this kind of as oil and watercolor.”

Provided the artist’s talent amount, it is amazing that he took up the medium comparatively recently—in late 2018. Impressively, this is the 2nd time that He has gained the Award of Excellence in the annual Pastel 100 opposition. His touching figurative get the job done Coronary heart and Cuddle, in which a prayerful Tibetan monk and his young grandson affectionately embrace, garnered the prize two several years back. Even though A Kashgar Woman presents a easier composition, it exudes a equally delicate good quality that’s singularly arresting.

slideshow

Cat in Window III (pastel on cardboard sealed with acrylic, 11 4/5 x 11 4/5)
Skull, Candle and Moth (pastel on cardboard sealed with primerer,17 7/10 x17 7/10)
Sheep in Winter (pastel on cardboard sealed with acrylic primer, 23 3/5 x 41 3/10)
Big Panda (pastel on cardboard sealed with acrylic primer, 23 3/5 x 23 3/5)

A Considered Course of action

Typically, once He has identified his matter, he’ll choose several reference images, but he finds that a firsthand coloration drawing is of substantial value. “If attainable, I favor to capture my topic by sketching it since the ensuing colors will be extra vivid,” he states. In this circumstance, on the other hand, he snapped just a single picture of the Kashgar lady. “I chose a profile pose,” he clarifies, “so that extra of the head scarf could be featured.”

The artist does a good deal of conceptual work in order to know his vision for a piece. His prizewinning portrait was no exception. “During the inventive approach, I modified lots of aspects, like the light-weight and shadow, which glance unique from what appeared in the image,” claims the artist. “I altered the facial characteristics somewhat, and the pores and skin is much more fragile and ruddy in complexion towards the surrounding head scarf and history.” The artist did keep some unique components, on the other hand, these kinds of as the woman’s black clothing, as properly as the coloration at the rear of her. “The background was a deep blue-purple, which harmonized with the gold head scarf,” he suggests. “That dark coloration also emphasized the contour of the experience, presenting its form in the most concise way.”

To begin the portray process, He first produced a 6-inch- square colour analyze. Then, relocating on to his surface—a gray cardboard that he sealed with Sennelier acrylic primer for pastels—the artist drew his composition in charcoal. Up coming, he brushed the complete surface with a deep purplish- blue Sennelier pastel stick, creating an even-toned underpainting ahead of utilizing a combination of Sennelier and Rembrandt pastels to construct subsequent levels.

When he designed the figure’s head, he made use of a variety of Derwent and Stabilo CarbOthello pastel pencils for the good facial aspects. By blending with his fingers, the artist accomplished the nuanced shade transitions and beautiful modeling that gives the figure’s pores and skin its lifelike visual appearance.

The head scarf expected a viewed as dealing with of the bordering values. “The golden texture can only be established by evaluating the light-weight and shade of the object,” says He. “The highlighted space, especially, could not be much too large. The smaller the size, the more powerful the optical luminosity will be.”

Moody Explorations

Significantly of He’s work reveals a palette restricted to muted, neutral-toned hues. Billed with an overall sense of austerity, his imagery generally conveys a taut stillness and sense of solitude, as seen in these kinds of items as Distant and Cat in Window III (slideshow). Cranium, Cradle and Moth (slideshow) also evokes these feelings—with extra intonations of the transitory nature of daily life. “The total tone of my perform is generally solemn, which may perhaps relate to my very own propensity,” the artist suggests. “I like to elicit that temper in minimal-distinction images.”

In addition to his focus on figures and still lifes, the artist likes to explore other topic issue, which he suggests keeps him from remaining “constrained to a preset pattern.” Vacation to other spots also generates new portray ideas. Sheep in Winter (slideshow), for instance, grew out of a serendipitous scenic interlude during the artist’s journey to Xinjiang, China. As he recalls, “The early morning sunlight had just risen, and it was shining on the farmyard sheep. The outcome of the warm mild was incredibly lovely, so afterwards I composed this piece from my assortment of pics.”

Yet another animal portray, Huge Panda (slideshow), has its roots at the Chengdu Large Panda Breeding Base, in Sichuan, China, which He visited in 2020. The artist, who relished his initially live panda sighting, initially encountered this endearing creature fortunately eating bamboo shoots out- doors on a hot summer months working day. As could be envisioned, He often provides his drawing products with him on visits so that he can create quick shade scientific tests of attention-grabbing topic matter. Consequently, to style and design the piece’s imagined history, He culled and reassembled pictures of trees from his on-site work.

The artist carries on to hone his capabilities by conducting his own research by a review of art masterpieces, he learns distinct portray techniques. The artist also pushes himself with vocation goals—hoping to someday see his artwork come to be component of a museum selection, for instance. In addition, he understands the great importance of group. “I wish to meet up with other excellent painters,” claims He, “to grow to be close friends with them so that we can master from 1 yet another.”

Meet up with Daud Akhriev, the 24th Yearly Pastel 100 Founders Award winner, in this article.

See the successful function of Pirkko Mäkelä-Haapalinna, the 24th Annual Pastel 100 Gold Award winner, here.

To see all of the award-successful do the job in the 24th Annual Pastel 100 and additional of Shilei He’s, test out the Spring 2023 situation of Pastel Journal.

Christine Proskow, a California-dependent writer and editor, is a common contributor to Artists Network journals.

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