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2024 Karen Isreal 3-Day Workshop 

Going Beyond the Photo Reference: Unleashing Creativity with Soft Pastel

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Workshop Goals:

If you want to stimulate your creativity and confidence in recreating a unique landscape painting from a photo, this is the workshop for you! Learn how to make the most of your photo references, and how to achieve a more successful design. Learn how to work with a variety of underpainting techniques, one of which is PanPastel. Become comfortable understanding the basic elements of self-critique and why this is of value in your painting journey. And, most important, have fun advancing your skills in a safe, stimulating fun class with lots of coaching at your easel by an experienced enthusiastic teacher.


Workshop Description:

There is no substitute for painting from life, however, there are times we need to use photographic references. Understanding compositional principles and knowing how to break the ‘rules’ are skills crucial to achieving successful artwork. Additionally, acquiring the skills of assessment and critique of one’s own work is essential to artistic growth.

In this 3-day workshop, you will gain confidence in creating interesting compositions from your photo references, experimenting with color that goes beyond the colors in the photo, and exploring the principles of self-critique to advance your goal of becoming less reliant on your photo. Through the use of handouts, a power point presentation, various skill building exercises, and the completion of a painting from your studies, you will have greater confidence creating works with your unique viewpoint and style.

In addition, there will be a short technique lesson on PanPastel as underpainting and Karen will provide samples for students to work with during class.



Day One Morning: We will start with a Power Point presentation which will include the principles of design/composition with artwork examples, discussion, questions and answers. Then Karen will present a short PanPastel technique demo. Karen will demonstrate creating several sketches (vine charcoal on newsprint) from her landscape photo reference. Then she will choose one of those sketches and demonstrate several underpaintings using Pastelmat paper and PanPastel.

Day One Afternoon: Students will begin to create several charcoal sketches from their photo reference, exploring format and shapes. Students will choose one of their studies to create a small (approx 5x7) warm/cool color studies.

OPTIONAL**Students do not have to under-paint with PanPastel; they may use any underpainting technique that suits the paper they wish to work with. (Pastelmat is the preferred paper for PanPastel). If students prefer to under-paint using alcohol, ink, watercolor, please choose a paper that works well with those techniques. As a guide: UART takes everything including alcohol but UART is not compatible with Panpastel. Another note: Alcohol does not do well on Pastel Premiere, Art Spectrum, Sennelier Lacarte, or Pastelmat.
Day Two Morning: Karen will demo a larger version from one of her color studies and speak about the specifics of landscape painting, and the importance of composition and edges. Students will finish their small studies from the first day if not finished. Then students will begin laying out a larger version (approx 12x16) of the color study they like the best.

Day Two Afternoon: Students will have time to paint the larger work from the study. There will be lots of opportunities for questions and coaching. At the end of the day, we will evaluate and self-critique our work. Karen will guide through the critique elements.

Day Three Morning: Karen may complete her larger demo from the previous day, discussing edges, compositional principles, mark making and self-evaluation tools. She will review students works in progress and answer questions specific to each student’s work.

Day Three Afternoon: Students will complete their paintings and at the end of the day we will self-critique and allow time for comments and questions.


Other Workshop Information:

Workshop will be held at the Kittery Community Center, 9:30-4:30 with a lunch break. Snacks will be provided. There are plenty of lunch spots either to dine in or take out in Kittery and neighboring areas. If you are staying overnight, lodging in Portsmouth NH and Kittery are convenient to the workshop location. There will be an option to eat dinner as a group (self-pay) with Karen and the workshop committee. Details after signup.


Class will break an hour early on Saturday (10/26) in anticipation of the PSNH National Show at the Portsmouth Historical Society. Karen Israel will present a gallery talk as the Juror of Awards. Reception is open to the public and light refreshments are offered.

Supply List:

1. Small pad of newsprint, or printer paper for small sketches

2. Scissors, Exacto knife or cutting tool of preference and a T-square to cut paper

3. Good variety of soft pastels, ranging from hard to soft, variety of values and color

4. Vine charcoal

5. Papers: if you are interested trying PanPastels, please bring 2 sheets of white Pastelmat 12x15.5” If you are not using PanPastels, you may use any light colored sanded paper (UART or other paper that will take a wet medium/alcohol) we will be working with unusual formats so be prepared to “waste” a little paper. You can use these to test color or other experimentation.

***I will bring white Pastelmat for purchase if you do not wish to buy a whole pad.

6. White artist tape or other method of securing your work to a board

7. Your easel and set-up. There will be tables and chairs


Photo references:

Please bring 5 or 6 landscape photos that you have taken yourself. The best choices are ones with large geometric shapes and not a lot of detail. They can be printed photos or you can use your ipad.(NO magazine clippings, photos from the internet or photos or artwork taken by other people).

You may use a tablet but please have the photo reference copied in grey scale as well as color so you can work with both simultaneously.

If printing photos to bring, Please print at the highest resolution that the camera and printer allow, and bring copies in grey scale and color. 300 dpi is preferable. For color, please print approximately 8.5x11, on glossy paper, if possible. Once you have signed up for the workshop, you are welcome to consult with Karen about the photo you wish to paint.

Karen Israel


Artist Statement:

"Being an artist has helped me become sensitive to the world and all its beauty. I am constantly noticing how the light is shifting and finding shapes and patterns hidden in plain sight. Over the years, my work has evolved from the representational to the impressionistic, with an occasional nod to the surreal. When creating, my priority is a dynamic design pattern, exciting color harmony and interesting edges. My goal is to take the viewer to surprising, new places. I now derive great joy in teaching others how to see so that they, too, can communicate their unique reality.”

Artist Bio:

Karen Israel’s pastel paintings are defined by their dynamic compositions and unique viewpoints.She is influenced by the light and mood of the subject and lets those elements dictate her approach. These subjects are rendered with a strong appreciation for the rigors of formal design coupled with a fearless array of color choices.

Among her many awards, Karen’s work placed Fourth in Pastel Journal Magazine’s Top 100 juried competition in 2020. She has achieved Signature status with the American Artists Professional League and she has earned Master Pastelist with the Pastel Society of America and Master Circle with the International Association of Pastel Societies. Karen’s work is frequently displayed at the Salmagundi Club, NYC, The Copley Society of Art, Boston and the Lyme Art Association, Connecticut.

Karen’s work can be found in both public and private collections throughout the United States

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Workshop Dates:

October 25-27, 2024


Kittery Community Center, Kittery, Maine

Workshop Fee:

Members $375, non-members $400.

Cost is non-refundable except in emergencies and at the discretion of the board of directors of the Pastel Society of New Hampshire.

If we do not have the minimum of 11 participants, your purchase will be fully refunded. Maximum attendance is 15.



Cancellation Policy: Full refund if your slot can be filled from the wait list. If no replacement is found, on or within 30 days to the workshop, fees will be half refunded.  In the event an attendee has a documented medical emergency within 30 days before the workshop, the fee, less the $25.00 service charge will be applied towards a future PSNH workshop.  Should the workshop presenter or PSNH cancel, a full refund will be provided to attendees.


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