While she typically works with oil paints, Penn Township artist Rita Haldeman found herself drawn to soft pastels, composed of pigment, water and a small amount of chalk or artificial binder.
“Pastels have the most beautiful luminosity and vibrant color,” she said. “They create new colors in a different way, laying in the color with pastel sticks on textured paper.”
One of Haldeman’s pieces, “Acadia,” is on display through April 8 at the Pittsburgh Pastel Artists League’s “Pure Color” exhibit in North Hills Art Center.
Haldeman began painting in her childhood and graduated in the 1970s from Penn State with a degree in art. She has worked as a graphic designer, and, for the past two decades, worked with the Artist-in-Residence program at the Southern Alleghenies art museums.
“Acadia” represents Haldeman’s love of having traveled to New England, where she experimented with painting “en plein air,” creating natural landscapes with the added challenge of constantly shifting sunlight and shadow.
“I went to Maine with some art league friends, where we painted en plein air as much as possible,” Haldeman said. “These members really inspire and teach me. As we paint the same landscape or seascape beside each other, it’s fascinating to see how different each final work turns out.”
Haldeman has gotten that inspiration watching younger students at the Southern Alleghenies summer camps she has taught.
“I make sure we go outside every day and do small sky studies in pastel,” she said. “We don’t just take for granted that the sky is blue, the clouds are white. What shades of blue are out there?”
Haldeman said her young students are enthusiastic about learning.
“I tell them to have fun and use their imaginations,” she said. “I am always amazed at the solutions they come up with.”
The “Pure Color” exhibit will include Haldeman and 24 other member artists showing more than 60 works, with subjects ranging from portraiture to animals to landscapes and more.
And while she enjoys sharing her work, Haldeman said teaching art and inspiring creativity is what she loves most.
“To help someone look at something in a different way or take the time to try something new is always a good thing,” she said.
North Hills Art Center is at 3432 Babcock Blvd., Ross Township. Hours are 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday.
For more on Haldeman’s art, see RitaHaldeman.com.