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  • September 18, 2023 12:52 PM | Colleen Algeo (Administrator)

    Our September Art Talk was presented by pastel Artist Cathy McIlhenny. She shared her journey, did a wonderful demo and reminded us that working with pastels can be a rewarding and creative experience, whether you're a beginner or an experienced artist.

    Here are her top 15 tips to help you get started with pastels:

    1. Invest in Quality Pastels: Start with a good set of soft pastels. Professional-grade pastels will provide better color, texture, and blending capabilities. Brands like Rembrandt, Sennelier, and Schmincke are known for their quality.
    2. Choose the Right Paper: Use pastel paper or paper with a textured surface. Sanded papers like UART or Pastelmat are excellent choices because they grip the pastel well and allow for layering and blending.
    3. Prepare Your Workspace: Keep your workspace clean and organized. Pastels can be messy, so have a clean surface and keep your pastels sorted by color for easy access. Cathy has her pastels sorted light to dark. 
    4. Start with a Limited Color Palette: When you're beginning, limit your color choices to a few essential colors. This can help you understand how to mix and blend colors effectively.
    5. Understand Color Theory: Learn the basics of color theory, including how to mix primary colors to create secondary colors and how to use complementary colors for shading and contrast. Use a color wheel to help you determine what colors should be included in your painting. 
    6. Layering and Blending: Pastels are excellent for layering and blending. Start with a very light touch and gradually build up layers for depth and richness in your artwork.
    7. Use Different Strokes: Experiment with various pastel strokes, such as hatching, cross-hatching, stippling, and scumbling, to achieve different textures and effects.
    8. Fixative Spray: Fixative spray or quick drying alcohol can help set your pastel layers and prevent smudging. Use it sparingly and apply it in thin layers to avoid dulling the colors. Cathy suggests the technique where it is used only after the initial blocking of colors is complete. And always spray it outside.  
    9. Work from Background to Foreground: Start your pastel artwork by blocking in the background and gradually work your way to the foreground. This helps create a sense of depth and perspective.

    10. Explore Different Surfaces: Don't limit yourself to just paper. Pastels can be used on various surfaces, such as canvas, board, or even sandpaper, each offering unique textures and effects.

    11. Study and Practice: Practice is key to improving your pastel skills. Study the work of pastel artists you admire and try to replicate their techniques. Don't be afraid to make mistakes; they can lead to valuable learning experiences.

    12. Protect Finished Artwork: Once your pastel artwork is complete, handle it with care to avoid smudging. Use a spacer in your frame to protect it the art from touching the glass. Framing it will also help protect it from dust and damage. 

    13. Take Breaks: Pastel work can be physically demanding, as blending and layering require pressure. Take regular breaks to rest your hand and eyes.

    14. Seek Feedback: Share your pastel work with others and seek constructive feedback.

    15. Join art communities or classes to connect with fellow pastel artists and learn from their experiences.

    Have Patience and Persistence: Mastering pastels takes time and patience. Don't get discouraged if your early works don't meet your expectations. Keep practicing and experimenting to improve your skills.

    Remember that art is a personal journey, and there are no strict rules. Feel free to develop your unique style and techniques as you become more comfortable with pastels. Enjoy the process, and don't be afraid to take risks and be creative!

  • June 08, 2023 9:08 PM | Colleen Algeo (Administrator)

    The art world is continuously evolving, with talented individuals making their mark and reshaping the creative landscape. In 2023, a new wave of artists has emerged, capturing the imagination of audiences and pushing the boundaries of artistic expression. In this article, we highlight five influential artists who have made significant contributions to the United States' art scene this year. From diverse mediums to thought-provoking concepts, these artists inspire, challenge, and redefine the artistic landscape.

    1. Titus Kaphar: With his thought-provoking paintings and sculptures, Titus Kaphar addresses themes of race, history, and identity. His work explores the complexity of representation, shedding light on marginalized voices and the need for a more inclusive narrative. Kaphar's powerful artworks challenge viewers to question and reimagine the stories we tell about ourselves and society.
    2. Tschabalala Self: Tschabalala Self's vibrant and expressive paintings and collages center around themes of Black femininity and identity. Through her distinctive use of color, pattern, and texture, she captures the spirit and resilience of Black women. Self's artwork challenges stereotypes and empowers viewers to celebrate the beauty and strength within diverse experiences.
    3. Sanford Biggers: Sanford Biggers is a multidisciplinary artist whose work spans sculpture, installation, film, and performance. He explores the intersections of history, identity, and popular culture, often using found objects and repurposed materials. Biggers' art prompts critical discussions about race, cultural appropriation, and social justice, inviting viewers to confront uncomfortable truths.
    4. Nina Chanel Abney: Nina Chanel Abney's vibrant and bold paintings combine elements of pop art, street art, and cartoon aesthetics to tackle complex social and political issues. Her artwork delves into topics such as racism, police brutality, and consumer culture, creating visually striking compositions that challenge and engage the viewer. Abney's art serves as a catalyst for important conversations about contemporary society.
    5. Toyin Ojih Odutola: Known for her intricate and captivating drawings, Toyin Ojih Odutola explores themes of race, identity, and storytelling. Her richly detailed portraits offer glimpses into fictional worlds and narratives, often drawing from African mythology and folklore. Ojih Odutola's work challenges traditional notions of representation and invites viewers to contemplate the complexity of personal and collective narratives.


    The five artists mentioned above represent a diverse range of artistic practices, themes, and mediums. Through their work, they address pressing social issues, challenge established norms, and spark meaningful conversations. In 2023, Titus Kaphar, Tschabalala Self, Sanford Biggers, Nina Chanel Abney, and Toyin Ojih Odutola have solidified their positions as influential artists shaping the United States' contemporary art scene. As the year unfolds, their contributions will continue to inspire and resonate with audiences, leaving an indelible impact on the art world as a whole.

    Image by Freepik

  • June 08, 2023 8:51 PM | Colleen Algeo (Administrator)

    10  Top Tips to Help You Avoid the Mud

    Mixing colors is an essential skill for artists, but it can sometimes lead to the frustration of creating muddy or dull hues. However, with a solid understanding of color theory and some practical techniques, you can learn to mix colors effectively and prevent muddiness in your artwork. Here are some tips to help you mix colors without getting muddy:

    1. Start with a Clean Palette: Before you begin mixing colors, ensure that your palette is clean and free from any remnants of previous colors. Wipe it down or use a fresh palette to avoid any unwanted color contamination.
    2. Use a Limited Color Palette: Limiting the number of colors on your palette can help you maintain control over your color mixing. Start with a primary color triad (red, blue, and yellow) and gradually expand your palette as you gain more experience.
    3. Mix Colors Gradually: When mixing colors, it's best to add small amounts of paint at a time. Start with a base color and gradually introduce another color until you achieve the desired shade. This gradual approach gives you better control over the mixing process.
    4. Use a Palette Knife: Using a palette knife rather than a brush can be helpful in preventing colors from becoming muddy. The flat surface of a palette knife allows you to mix colors more cleanly and avoid overmixing.
    5. Clean Your Brush: Make sure to clean your brush thoroughly between color mixes. Use a paper towel or a separate container of water to remove excess paint from your brush before dipping it into a new color. This prevents unwanted color contamination.
    6. Consider Color Temperature: Mixing colors with similar temperatures (warm or cool) can help maintain color clarity. Warm colors tend to be yellows, oranges, and reds, while cool colors include blues, greens, and purples. Mixing colors across temperature ranges can sometimes lead to muddiness.
    7. Use a Gray Scale: Adding a gray scale to your palette can help you achieve more nuanced mixes. It allows you to adjust the value of your colors without shifting their hue, resulting in cleaner and more accurate color blends.
    8. Mix Complementary Colors: Mixing complementary colors (colors opposite each other on the color wheel) can produce vibrant and balanced mixtures. Complementary color mixes tend to result in grays or browns rather than muddy hues.
    9. Allow Colors to Rest: Sometimes, colors appear muddy immediately after mixing but will regain their vibrancy as they dry. Allow your colors to rest and dry before making any judgments about their final appearance.
    10. Practice and Experiment: Mixing colors effectively takes practice and experimentation. Don't be afraid to try different combinations, observe the results, and learn from your experiences. The more you experiment, the better you will become at achieving clean and vibrant color mixes.

    By applying these tips and taking the time to understand color theory, you can enhance your ability to mix colors without ending up with muddy results. Remember, practice, observation, and a willingness to experiment are key to mastering the art of color mixing.

    Image by Freepik

  • May 22, 2023 8:21 AM | Anonymous

    We're finally here.  We, as a board, decided to create a cleaner, more efficient way for our group to communicate in the 21st century!  This doesn't preclude members from contacting each other the way they want, but this new website does so many things!  It allows each of us easy access to the site and all of the information available about our events, but it also opens a gateway of communication between each other, no matter which path we choose. 

    Having a member directory allows us to send a letter or a card because we have the person's up to date information for contact address (the one we want people to use), phone numbers, and emails.  In the past, we had to take the chance that the person would be at a meeting or event and we could "catch up" with them then, maybe.  The new forum allows us to ask each other questions in a new way which allows everyone else to benefit from the conversation as well.  If I ask someone the best medium to use with acrylic painting, then someone else who had the same question can read the forum first before posting their question to see if someone else is struggling the same way. 

    Of course, we can't do any of this without administrators.  As an administrator, you learn a world of information about how websites run (without TOO much detail) and have an easy way of monitoring and editing items that are redundant - like too many forum posts about acrylic mediums with the same information.

    Speaking of administrators - we can REALLY use help from our members to work with the original team to do administrative tasks.  It doesn't take a LOT of time, but it is time that we "originals" can use for ourselves too.  Having other people come on board and join the fun allows us to be more flexible with our own lives.  AND, we're willing to help you learn so that we are all on the same page as far as what to do and how.  It NEVER hurts to learn new things, although we've heard some people are resistant.  I personally feel they are missing out on a great opportunity.

    We're very happy to be able to speak with you through our blog posts, too.  It helps us make appeals like this that normally are voiced in a public presentation and too easily forgotten.  Blogs are a great way to remind all of you that we are here, every month, managing the organization's administrative necessities and looking forward to you joining  our team.

    All the best!  Kathy Bohn

    Image by Freepik

  • April 22, 2023 4:15 PM | Anonymous

    by Lori Quinque-Quinn

    The 50th Yellow Springs Art Show and Sale

    April 29 - May 14, The Washington at Historic Yellow Springs, 1701 Art School Road, Chester Springs PA. Several of our members are invited exhibiting artists at this prestigious show.

    End-of-Year Student Art Exhibition

    The Boyer Gallery at the Hill School, Pottstown, May 19 - 28

    Chester County Artist Studio Tour

    Saturday, May 20, 2023, 10am to 6pm, and Sunday May 21, 11am to 5pm, 200 artists and 79 studios. The closest location if you don’t want to travel too far is the Spring City Mill Studio, housing over 20 artists and hosting additional artists for this event. Several micro breweries and small taverns are close by.

    The 122nd Annual Student Exhibition

    at the Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts, May 12 - June 4. The Annual Student Exhibition (ASE) is an academic capstone event and the longest-standing student exhibition of its kind. While art exhibitions for matriculating students are common, PAFA’s show takes place in a major museum and is one of the most celebrated student group shows in the country. This is a must see and you can take the train down from Lansdale.

    The Art of the Miniature Snow Goose Gallery,

    Bethlehem PA, May 7 - June 10. Bradley Hendershot and Katharine Krieg, prominate members of PVAC are participants in this exhibit as well as other amazing artists.

  • April 21, 2023 7:52 AM | Anonymous

    by Colleen Algeo, President

    What is it about a creative work like a painting that elicits our awe and admiration? Is it the thrill of being shown something new, something different, something the artist saw that we did not? The idea that some people see more possibilities than others is central to the concept of creativity. This was truly demonstrated at our recent Member Show. There are so many wonderful creative works being shared. The reception was a brilliant success with friendly comraderie and lots of idea exchanging. Oh and great snacks! I applaud everyone who participated and am grateful to our donors and volunteers who helped it come together. I really think our founder Charles R. Gardner would have been thrilled.

    As artists, I think it is part of our wiring to continually look at things from different perspectives and then to explore ways to show that to the world. The leadership team is committed to this very concept with the goal of having those new insights show us the way forward. This newsletter is packed with interesting stories and photos that show you how the team is adding their creative thinking to enhance your member experience:

    • Our next presenter is a different kind of artist
    • A progressive donor has altered the future
    • A new easy to use website is underway
    • A new date and location for our summer picnic
    New offerings are abundant in hopes of eliciting a little awe and excitement from you about PVAC. Also don’t miss the recap of the 60th Annual Member Show! Enjoy. NOTE: The newsletter’s summer hiatus happens July - August so keep this edition close. The next edition is scheduled SEPT/OCT - with a submission deadline of August 15th.


Serving Mongtomery, Bucks & Berks Counties, PA

Perkiomen Valley Art Center  (PVAC) is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization founded in 1957 to further art appreciation and direct involvement with the arts by providing cultural programs and exhibitions by area artists.

Program presentations and show receptions are free and open to the public.

Meeting Address: Maplewood Estates, Arbor Conference Center, 2nd Floor, 815 Maplewood Dr., Harleysville PA 19438

Mailing Address:
PO Box 474  Schwenksville PA 19473
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