Sunday, July 18, 2021

Book Review: Pure Pastel: Contemporary Works by Today's Top Artists

This is about a book about Pure Pastel: Contemporary Works by Today's Top Artists edited by Anne Hevener

The last thing I did when I was leaving the Annual Exhibition of the Pastel Society on Wednesday was pick up a book I'd not seen before in person. 

This is the latest book about pastel artworks and pastel artists published under the auspices of the Pastel Journal - also edited by Anne Hevener (until 2019). She invited 100 of those she considered to be the top contemporary pastel artists to contribute works to the book.

Normally I would have bought it on the spot - but I'm currently carrying a rollator up and down stairs on the tube and even thought this is carbon fibre, there was absolutely no way I could possibly carry this large and heavy book!

So I took a photo of the cover (so as to remember the title and details) and ordered it from Amazon as soon as I got home!

and this is the photo of the cover
- for this review
- in my sitting room this morning!

Essentially, it's a giant picture book - with artworks by leading pastel artists. Each gets

  • details of the artwork
  • a paragraph from the artist about how it came to be created - which are very diverse and also provide some useful tips in terms of approach and development of the artwork

What I like about it

  • It includes many pastel artists from the USA whose names are very well known to me - including the late Bill Creevy whose book for Watson Guptill first got me switched on to pastels.
  • It includes six artists members of the Pastel Society in the UK. These include:
  • I like the way it organises the artwork. I very much liked the fact it didn't go for the basic (and can be boring) categorisation of subject to organise the artworks. Instead, there are five chapters focusing on some much more interesting aspects of any artwork:
    • Colour and Light
    • Composition and Design
    • Mood and Atmosphere
    • Style and Expression
    • Concept and Story
  • There's an Artist Index at the back which provides 
    • the artists' credentials (members ship of societies / awards etc)
    • an indication of where they live (town; state/county; country) 
    • website address (however I found not all are current and/or live - which might be something to do with security certificates for the site)
    • email address
  • Reproduction values and colours and tones look very good to me. Certainly the clarity of how pastel is used by the artist is there - I tested these on Cheryl Culver's pastel works which I know well!

What I'm surprised about

There's a few things which surprised me

  • very few artists from outside the USA, Canada and the UK. I found 
  • It doesn't rank higher in lists of best selling pastel books on Amazon e.g.
    • the Amazon listing for Pastel Drawing in the USA
    • the Amazon UK listing for "Best Sellers in Crayon and Pastel Drawing" in the UK - which suggests to me it's not well known in the UK.
    • which makes me think that the demise of F&W publications (see below) made a big dent in the marketing of this book

It could be improved if....

  • It wasn't in portrait format! I do wish books which present artists work either adopt a square format OR print artworks in landscape format over a double page spread. 
  • RECOMMENDATION TO ARTISTS asked to do such books: Submit your artwork in a portrait or square format - but never ever landscape as it'll just be diminished in comparison to others
  • RECOMMENDATION TO EDITORS: provide a brief to the artists about such books re. the size of the page and the maximum size of images in different formats!


  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: North Light Books; Illustrated edition
  • Publication Date: 30 April 2019
  • Language: English
  • Shipping Weight: 2.75 lbs
  • ISBN-10: 1440350906
  • ISBN-13: 978-1440350900
  • Product Dimensions: 23.88 x 2.03 x 31.5 cm


Those who've bought it rank it an average of 4.7 out of 5 stars on the Amazon UK / website (55 and 58 reviews respectively)
In terms of buying this book
  • OR you can buy it at the Pastel Society Exhibition at the Mall Galleries - if they've got any left in stock! 


No comments: