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TUSCUMBIA, Ala. — There are only 110 artists in the world that have been given the designation of master pastelist by the Pastel Society of America. The Shoals is lucky to have one of these artists, Elaine Augustine. The state of Alabama is fortunate to have two: both Augustine and Carrie Raeburn of Coffee Springs.
Raeburn and Augustine will be joined by New Orleans-based master pastelist Sandra Burshell for a three-woman exhibition of master quality pastel art at the Tennessee Valley Museum of Art, 511 N. Water St., Tuscumbia.
The exhibition is called Luminosity: The Power of Pastels. The museum will host an opening for the exhibit from 1-3 p.m., May 21 with all three of the artists in attendance to meet with and talk to visitors. The exhibit will showcase over 70 works of art and will be shown at the Tennessee Valley Museum of Art through July 6.
Just because the three artists all work in the same medium, however, don’t expect all three to blend together.
“When I go to exhibitions and I stand there in front of a painting, I say ‘wow, they’re different, totally different,’” Augustine said. “’One is very precise, another is very loose. Another has a very minimized color pallet and another has every color in the rainbow. But they’re all wow. You can still have an individual style and stand out.”
While all three of the artists work with various subject matters and mediums, the works they will exhibit at the museum will showcase one side of each artist’s work. Augustine will be showing abstract expressionism while Burshell will have interiors and figure paintings and Raeburn will be showing a series of New Orleans cityscapes.
Pastels come in various forms, pencils, bars and crayon-like sticks. A sketch using pastels is called a drawing, but a full canvas covered in pastels is called a painting. Burshell said she’s excited to have the opportunity to show off the medium of pastels.
“I’m trying to bring across a feeling of warmth and inviting nature to my work where people can look at pastels and feel like maybe they’ve been there or they’d like to be there,” she said.
Burshell added that many of her pieces that she’ll be showing she calls “roomscapes.”
“They’re basically portraits of people as they have recently left the room,” she said. “They’re not architecture, but more environments where people have been themselves, where they just recently left.”
Raeburn said her paintings are all from a series called Raining Color.
“They’re all related to one day and afternoon in the French Quarter (in New Orleans),” Raeburn said. “I was trying to communicate how everyday life, running errands, dropping kids off at school, how that can be beautiful if you see it. It’s a matter of seeing and being in the moment. Even the most mundane things, like driving in the car, there can be beauty around you if you’re willing to receive it.”