Ken Manninen
In pursuit of my inner artist


(posted on 29 Dec 2023)

Once again, it is past time I provided an update of my latest creative endeavours.  You know what is said about what is paved with good intentions.

This year I happened across the California artist, Dawn Emerson, while investigating pan pastels.  I bought her book, Pastel Innovations, and was fascinated by her artwork.  Dawn creates representational abstracts using multi-media.  What particularly interested me was how she combined monotype prints and pastels.  This sent me down the path of checking out these mediums; both new to me.

I bought the set of pan pastels promoted by Dawn and started my exploration of this medium.  I was familiar with various drawing media, including traditional soft and oil pastels but was amazed how the pan pastels performed.  They are applied in much more of a painterly fashion, using specially designed sponge tools as brushes.  People seeing them for the first time comment how much they look like theatre makeup.  I have found them to feel like an amazing blend of drawing and painting mediums.  Some of my artist colleagues have commented that perhaps I have finally found my medium of choice.  I may have to agree as I am finding now I enjoy painting landscapes; something that has never inspired me.

I have experimented with various substrates and fixatives.  Thus far, I can report that Claire Fontaine Pastel Revolution fixative is by far the best workable fixative I have come across.  It has a strong perfume like smell that takes days to dissipate, but it truly freezes pastel drawings in place with nominal colour changes.  The substrates I have found to work with pan pastels range from bristol, drawing paper, Pastelbord and Pastel Card.  I have yet to try PastelMat.  I am currently trying them out for life drawing and am finding them pretty amazing.

Having had no experience with printmaking, I set out to wade into this new discipline to explore the possibility of incorporating it in future artwork.  Luckily there is a print artist, Maria Tratt, living on Gabriola.  Maria has a wealth of experience and joyfully shares her knowledge and coaches those wishing to learn this artform.  I have taken workshops from Maria in collograph, linocut and monotype printmaking.  This has expanded my artistic toolkit and opened the door to many new possibilities.

It is my intention to experiment with combining both newly learned mediums this coming year.  You will see my latest artwork that includes both pan pastel and printmaking, though not together on the same substrate.  But, that is coming.

I hope you enjoy what I have created and watch to see how I improve as I gain more experience.