Monday, 21 April 2014

The lovely Freye --In Conte/pastel and graphite

A few weeks ago, I had the good fortune to draw this lovely model from Denmark, here only for a few more weeks. So I was able to draw her twice. Every once in a while you meet a  model who has a natural sense of grace, just lovely to draw. The head is not big enough. I have another piece of her, where the head is too big, so I know where my work is. This is Conte on Canson mi-tientes. I am using up old paper on longer poses. This one was 50 minutes. I enjoy finding a place within the picture plane, where I can push hard with a pastel, and make that deep rich colour-In this case the hair. 
I'm not sure if I am finished or not. If not, perhaps I'll post this again. I'm enjoying working with charcoal, conte, pastel and graphite, creating interesting textures and tones. I'm also finding places to improve my work, things I may not have seen before. Taking a photo and looking at my work through the lense often allows me to see things differently. 
Same model, very elegant figure to draw. The hand is obscured (sorry!). I love to draw hands, and have the time to do an accurate job. Notice the detail on the feet? All you have is the general shape and proper proportion. That's because this is a 10 minute pose. What is the best use of your time for a 10 minute pose? I actually have a life drawing workshop where I teach how much information you should be shooting for in a 5, 10, and longer pose. Better to get a consistent amount of information in a short pose. 
I like the angle on this pose, where I'm getting a view from below. Love the gesture in the torso. So lovely! Too bad she is leaving Canada shortly. So nice to draw.  
There is  nothing like getting lost in a beautiful pose. I LOVE life drawing. In fact, I have even admitted, I am an addict. A life drawing addict!
Stay tuned as I continue to grow and experiment in this field. So much to do!
I have a life drawing workshop coming up, April 28, 29, and 30th. 2 spots left! Contact me if you are interested, at

Monday, 14 April 2014

Ferraro demonstrating at Pastel Artists of Canada, National exhibit 2014, opening Sunday May 11-

Noonmark Mountain, Adirondacks, NY

This piece will be on exhibit at the Pastel Artists of Canada national exhibit, in Brampton Ontario. The opening is Sunday, May 11nth, at Beaux Art Brampton, 70 Main St., Brampton Ont. --where I will be demonstrating for the hour before the show opens. We'll be raffling off one free workshop with me in Toronto this coming October. You must attend the demonstration to be eligible. 

This is a piece I did in the last year. It was conceived of, while enjoying the view from the summit of Noonmark Mountain in the Adirondacks. My daughter Genevieve and I were hiking there last fall, in the glory of fall colours. I tried to keep the background view accurate to the view you have up there. looking north. What struck me about this tall slim man, was the shadows as they ran across the top of his right side, and the elegant proportions of one so tall. I also liked his boots. The idea of travelling and sharing this experience with his friend, yet looking in different directions, infers they are also both having an independent  experience at the same time. Love that aspect of it. Together, yet singular too. 
What was different for me in this hike, was travelling with my daughter, just the two of us. I'm usually hiking in groups, with hiking fanatics, who like to travel fast. I like that too, but I really enjoyed going at our own pace. When we saw something nice, we could break for as long as we liked. Lots of water breaks, and my daughter carried all the heavy stuff, made my job a lot easier! 
This spring we'll go back and do a similar hike, hopefully my other daughter Solange will come too. I would categorize Noonmark as a mid-challenge mountain. It's not hard, and not easy either. You have to have a certain level of fitness to do this. There's nothing like being on top of the mountain though. 
With the snow finally melting, we'll be able to get up on local trails as well. Gatineau Park, here we come!

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Thinking of summertime fun, in Pastel

This summer, I'll be teaching pastels at the Haliburton school of the Arts, from June 30th-July 4th. This summer school has been operating in the Haliburton Highlands, northeast of Toronto for over 45 years.  It's
cottage country, a bustling community in the summer, full of many lakes, and nature. Being a nature lover and avid hiker, I love this area. In the summer months, there are an incredibly number of art workshops offered-over 300! There are so many I'd like to take, if I had the time. 
Besides having an art course, there's a faculty show with a reception every week, where you can check out the work of teachers, for next years planning. Then there's the walk-about, on Thursday after class. It's a time where you can walk around into each class and see what's been going on all week. The teachers are available to answer questions, while you peruse whatever has been created. For the music workshops, we are usually treated to a show, whether that be singing or instrumental.

My Summertime Field, pastel, en plein air

This year, I've been given a challenging task, but I think I've got it worked out. I'll be teaching a beginners level of pastel and intermediate, at the same time. As many of you know, I have boards prepared that show samples of what we are doing, whenever we are studying colour theory, and other exercises like monochromatic value studies.  These will all be up on boards, which will aid people in working at their level. Based on this, and the fact that my intermediate students can work independently, I think it'll all work out no problem. I really like my students to be challenged at their own level. One great idea, is for a group of women to get together, rent a cottage, and each go to their chosen workshop. Then at night, y'all come together again, and share your unique experiences.
Sounds like a rich life to me. To find out more about the Haliburton School of the Arts, simply go to --Easy! If you want to know anything about my workshop there, just contact me directly at

Monday, 7 April 2014

pastel and new openings

      This past weekend, I taught my first workshop at The Kevin Dodds Art Gallery, located at 1101 Bank St., near Sunnyside. I've never taught right inside an art gallery before, but it worked out just fine. Plus I love the location. Being a newbee guitar player, we are two doors from the Ottawa folklore Center, which is a magnet for anyone interested in music and instruments. Perhaps the best thing, is being right beside Stellaluna, and gelato and coffee place. My daughter Solange and I popped in there regularily last year, for Hot chocolate, served in a cup, with an extra saucer for your whipped cream, on the side. No, I am not a foody.
       Having spent a good part of this past winter working on my house, it has been very nice teaching more lately. The nice thing about being in the city, is being able to offer my services to people without cars, or city lovers, in general. A whole new and expanding market. Hello Ottawa!
Here are some of my students, and myself, after a hard days play.
Introduction to Pastel, with Margaret Ferraro
Here is an overview of what happens in this two day workshop, for those of you who might want to come next time! Saturday May 31 and Sunday June 1. Stay tuned also for weekday dates as well.

The first day of the workshop, we spend the whole day studying different application techniques, by creating colour plays, and by observing and analyzing lots of pastel work from around the world. Huge learning curve here. On Sunday, we make a colour wheel (see photo) where we not only learn how to mix colour, but observe the difference pressure can ratio of one colour to another , can make. We do one layering exercise (In pastel,  layering is very important, and is responsible for the luminous quality you can't get from any other medium). We then have the last afternoon, for one independant piece of work. This workshop has been highly successful because it gives the student a really good basic understanding of how to manipulate the medium, ready to work on your own.
If you'd be interested in taking this workshop, please contact me and we'll see if we can work our some dates in the near future. This workshop is offered in many locations, including Toronto, my studio, and the Haliburton school of the Arts. 
To see more of my work, go to

Friday, 4 April 2014

Creativity over everything else

At my latest open studio day, several students showed up, each offering up their own specific expression. As an art teacher, it's quite the satisfying experience, to see everyone awash in their rowboat of creative ideas-flowing and meandering down the river of their own mojo. It's a priveledge actually to embrace each creator, and their vision. Like switching channels, I meet my students where ever they may be. Encouraging individual growth is something I firmly believe in. Here, you are accepted, regardless of your "style" or personal expression.
One of the things I am really grateful for, in having taught from my studio these past 17 years, is doing it my way. To NOT teach students to paint like me-I teach them to paint from their own original center.That doesn't mean I don't try to impart my knowledge and personal opinion about what I find important in art and creating it, but to be open and tolerant of others ways, is the way to the top of the mountain.  For a broad view. Afterall, are we after small minds, or big mind miracles? Magical miracles.
The by product of this policy,  is a melting pot like last Wednesday, where anything from the most traditional and realistic to impressionism to expressionism, and every level of abstraction is acceptable in my studio.
Sometimes when I am teaching, I wonder how I got so lucky, to know so many excellent people, share in their ideas, humours, their personal lives. Life is rich, isn't it?
The wonderful thing about having Shirley come to my workshops all these years, is watching her expression mature, her drawing, composing skills come together, to watch her become a true artist.

Cathy has great drawing skills, and is up for much experimenting, on her journey to discover her own personal joy through art.

Strachan is one of the most open minded people I know. To know art the way Strachan knows Art, is to know who you are. 
To thine own self be true. 
Strachan is never scared of meeting himself on the canvas.
Gillian has been on many trips with me. This scene is a pigeonnier, very close to our retreat in southwest France. You can't tell yet, but Gillian is one of those people I love having in open studio, because she has a playful, graphic, and very original vision for her artwork.

Anne is daring herself, on a courageous search for her way with colour and expressing her values, everything she holds dear, in her art.

Every time Miriam starts a piece, I know I am in for a visual-sensory treat of colour. Hope your screen can pick up the the strong pinks here, that contribute to the colour harmony-ever present in her work.
Thanks everyone, for the priveledge of sharing your true identity with me.