Lynne Whitsel never imagined she’d become a fine artist, but when computers redefined her career she decided to pursue pastel painting.
“I was a graphic designer before computers,” said Lynne, who lives in Ivyland and has been a Bucks County resident for 60 years.
Lynne studied art at Bucks County Community College and then went on to Tyler School of Art, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts and a specialization in graphic design. For the next 10 years she ran her own successful business designing and illustrating brochures, catalogs, ads, signs and greeting cards.
“Everything was done by hand, it was a very arduous task,” she said.
As the world of computers and technology moved in, Lynne noticed she was creating less and less with her hands and spending more and more time staring at a computer screen. That’s when she decided to pick up the pastels.
Nowadays, 16 years later, Lynne can be found sketching in her studio or traveling across Bucks County with her camera and pastels, looking for inspiration in the landscape – the shapes, colors, composition, light.
Her subject matter includes portraits, still life, animals and landscapes. When creating landscapes, Lynne loves working en plein air (outside) because of the spontaneity that comes with it.
“I travel with a camera everywhere I go and I’ll stop and take a photo of whatever catches my eye. So much of my inspiration comes from Bucks County, it’s a really great place for an artist to live,” she said. “The idea is not to copy a photo but to create a painting that comes to life or produce a feeling or atmosphere that the photo can’t do,” she continued.
While she works with several different mediums, Lynne prefers to work with soft pastels, layering shades on top of another.
“I like to use sanded paper and I’ll do a loose sketch in charcoal sometimes. I do what you call an under painting, which will cover the whole sheet of paper. When I layer the pastels the under painting comes through the top layer.”
When Lynne paints, she pays careful attention to the composition and the values that create striking contrast. In addition, she has to feel a connection to what she’s creating.
“I am after my memories and feelings about the place that will show up in the final piece,” she said. “There must always be an emotional connection to what I decide to paint.”
This August, the Northampton Township Library will feature Lynne’s artwork in an exhibit entitled “Everything Flowers.” The exhibit will feature about 25 of her paintings that have incorporated flowers into them one way or another.
Most of the pieces will be soft pastels, with a few being hard pastels. “Hard pastels are harder to blend but I like a challenge once in a while. It looks more like paint,” explained Lynne.
Lynne is an active member of two local arts groups; she has been with Ivyland Art Group for 15 years and with the Bucks-Mont Art League for more than a decade. She paints with members of the two groups on a weekly basis.
“Being with other artists is so important. One gets encouragement, an exchange of ideas, opportunity to learn new processes and techniques and some impute when you are stuck. Painting with like-minded people around you and observing what they are doing is inspiring. It is an invaluable experience that you just can’t get when you are painting alone,” she said.
If you are interested in viewing or purchasing Lynne’s work, visit her exhibit at the Northampton Township Library anytime throughout the month of August, or visit her website at www.Pastelsbylynne.com.
PHOTO CAP: Lynne Whitsel in her studio