Pastelist W. Truman Hosner creates his acclaimed pastels in the open-air. Hillsdale’s Daughtrey Gallery will feature his work Oct. 9-Nov. 20 Monument Valley Photos, Justin Verdin | Courtesy
Pastelist W. Truman Hosner creates his acclaimed pastels in the open-air. Hillsdale’s Daughtrey Gallery will feature his work Oct. 9‑Nov. 20 Mon­ument Valley Photos, Justin Verdin | Courtesy

There are few artists left of William Truman Hosner’s kind.

Pro­fes­sional painters today have nearly aban­doned open-air painting for the con­ve­nience of a camera. After snapping pic­tures of an outdoor scene, they head indoors and create por­traits from the pho­tographs.

But inter­na­tionally renowned pastelist Hosner hasn’t used a camera in nearly two decades.

Hillsdale College’s Daughtrey Gallery in the Sage Center for the Arts will open an exhibit of Hosner’s pastels, titled “Sparkle with Repose,” on Oct. 9. Nearly 40 original por­traits and land­scapes will be in the exhibit. Eight are being loaned by col­lectors from around the nation and shipped to campus.

“Sparkle with Repose” show­cases Hosner’s sig­nature talent of cap­turing natural light in his artwork by painting strictly on-site. According to Hosner, the exhibit’s name is derived from a quote by John Con­stable, the well-known English painter. According to Hosner, at one point in his life Con­stable moved out­doors and “left the strait­jacket attitude of the Academy,” desiring rather to create art “‘with sparkle and repose.’”

Bill Rey, owner of Claggett/Rey Gallery in Vail, Col­orado, cur­rently fea­tures only one pastelist in his pres­ti­gious fine art gallery — Hosner.

“Bill is one of the absolute finest pastelists in America,” Rey said. “His appeal comes from the color and light he cap­tures by cre­ating on location. There are plenty of artists who do ‘open-air’ painting, but it isn’t fin­ished artwork.”

Pro­fessor of Art Sam Knecht first saw Hosner’s pastels fea­tured in a full-page ad in the American Art Review Mag­azine. Knecht was struck by the beau­tiful ren­dering of the seascape along the Cal­i­fornia coast, but also with the fact that this world-class artist was based in Tra­verse City, Michigan.

“Here was a Michigan artist,” Knecht said. “Logis­ti­cally it could work out to bring his work to campus. Plus Pro­fessor Bryan Springer was teaching a pastel class this fall.”

Hosner’s career reached new heights in 2009 after he was invited to Dinan, France, as an artist-in-res­i­dence. This oppor­tunity arose after he won the first and only prize at the French art show, Salon Inter­na­tional du Pastel. Hosner’s name was announced after the gov­ernor of Nor­mandy and mayor of the city spoke.

Before pur­suing fine art exclu­sively, Hosner was a highly suc­cessful com­mercial illus­trator. Then  he fell in love with the color of pastels and found his niche.

“Pastel is pure color. If you look at pastels under a micro­scope, you’ll see a mul­ti­faceted piece of color that the light can strike from many angles,” Hosner said. “If they are pro­tected properly, there are pastel paintings that look as fresh as the day they were painted 200 years ago.”

After using pastel as his sole medium for almost three decades, Hosner said he believes there has been an evo­lution in the art world’s attitude toward pastels.

“When I was at an exhi­bition in Stockton, Cal­i­fornia, I saw art by artists whom I felt could no longer be called ‘pastelists,’” Hosner said. “They choose pastel to give sig­nif­i­cance to their subject and feel that they can best express their joy of the unex­pected, and the pleasure of dis­covery, with the lan­guage of pastel. Their spirits stand ajar.”

Hosner will be giving a public lecture and reception in Sage from 1 – 4:30 p.m. on Oct. 11. He will explain his outdoor painting tech­niques, give a demon­stration of his artistic process, and also describe the history of open-air painting, a chronology that spans over 150 years.  

The exhibit will remain on display in Daughtrey Gallery until Nov. 20.