I always love finding an artist who makes me look twice. When I initially took a glance at Mandy Roeing’s work, I was impressed by the use of oil paint…or so I thought. As I soon discovered, Roeing’s paintings are in fact created with soft pastels, which in her hands, yield a lush and deep result. Soft pastels, as a medium, are inherently pliable. They succumb willingly to the artist’s intent and emotions, allowing the artist to call it a drawing or a painting. When it comes to Of Land and Sea, Roeing’s virtual exhibition presented by the Springer Cultural Center, the word painting is most definitely apropos.
The use of light, color and texture is what grabs me the most. When an artist has the ability to lure me into a still life, seascape, or beachscape, it is because the light and color have been treated exceptionally well, as is demonstrated in this body of work. It is apparent in vivid depiction of Sabino Stream, seen below.
In this painting I feel as if I am standing in the water, on a rock trying to get to the soft greenery on the other side. Roeing’s use of texture makes such sensations palpable. Her technique is so well executed, that not only do I get an accurate sense of what that location looks like, but I also sense the artist’s feelings about the place. The sharing of an emotional connection, one of the key motivations Roeing notes in her artist statement, is clearly at the heart of this work.
This large beach painting captures not only light, color and texture but captures that tension of motion, and the suspended movement of the wave that is about to crash. Sometimes people respond to still lifes, seascapes and beachscapes with the idea it’s just capturing an image similar to the photograph. But this painting makes it obvious that so much more is going on with emotion and feelings. Water is a recurring theme in her work, an emotional subject that is not easy to render but she has made it seem effortless.
Reoing works as much as possible on site, En Plein Air style, and often finishes the piece in studio from a photograph. Currently serving as the Vice President of the Illinois Prairie Pastel Society, an active member of the Illinois Art League, and an instructor at the McLean County Arts Center, Roeing offers viewers a range of expertise on pastels and their potential. In the video-based artist talk, Roeing explains the types of pastels and paper she uses to create these paintings.
One particularly interesting technique Mandy Roeing shares is that she chooses not to use a fixative, in order to keep the colors true. Even the organization of her materials, as shown in the screencap below, is quite intriguing to watch.
I hope everyone can take a few minutes to experience this body of work. Though COVID restrictions make it impossible to see the work in person, the work does still translate well in video and picture form. The inclusion of the artist video-based artist talk creates more of an in-gallery experience by taking viewers into the artist’s process. Animal lovers will also appreciate the pet portraits, which were Roeing’s earliest subject matter and the passion-fueled inspiration for her career as an artist. Those who enjoy the work as much as I did may even consider checking out the list of work for sale included on the site.
Learn more about Mandy Roeing’s work on her website.