South Bend Museum of Art Education Blog

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Take a Peek at Pastels with Cathy McCormick

"The Last Trail" - a pastel by Peg Luecke, a student in Cathy McCormick's "Landscapes in Pastels" class at SBMA

Cathy McCormick’s “Landscape in Pastels” class is an institution in itself at SBMA.  We’ve been fortunate to have Cathy’s amazing talent and guidance in our studios for 20 years, and she has developed quite a following of artists.

When we asked her about this new winter session, it was clear that for Cathy, it is always a thrill to work with another group of students.  She shares:

In my 20 years of teaching pastels, I have always enjoyed the start of the new term: meeting the new members and greeting old friends who have been in class for years. 

It is interesting that this class is half new and half returning, seven in each group.  It is a good mix, like the old one-room school where younger students overheard lessons of older students and all benefitted.

The first night, the new group tried a series of apple drawings to learn about the ways pastel can be applied: side stroke, stipple, cross hatch and blended.  Next week, we move on to tree shapes.  After that comes light source, skies, perspective and composition – all based on landscape painting. In fact we consider ourselves painters, even though pastel is dry...

We have a good time in class, and part of the fun is the creative process that produces tangible results of our effort. It is rewarding and expressive, a break from the demands of our busy lives. Most people say the time flies by. The past 20 years certainly has for me.

One of Cathy’s loyal students, Peg Luecke, echoes these thoughts as she describes what “Landscapes in Pastels” has meant to her for the past ten years that she has been  working with Cathy:

It’s most definitely fun, and has helped me as an artist to see differently and improve my understanding of composition and the use of value and color. Cathy is very encouraging to students at all levels and always has new ideas and information about exhibiting opportunities. The class environment allows for a creative interchange among students as we help each other with suggestions, feedback and inspiration.

With work and family commitments, it would still be easy to put my art aside, but the weekly class commitment helps me prioritize it, and it has truly added to my quality of life!

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