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.