Local artist trio featured in pastel exhibition

By Jason A. Smith
Times Correspondent

Kay Ridge of Stockbridge has been a professional artist for about 25 years, primarily using pastels. She said there are several reasons why she enjoys that particular medium.

“One is that I can just pick them up and lay them down -- nothing to lay out and nothing to dry out,” said Ridge. “I go from one painting to another. With acrylic, it can dry out. You have to make sure you cover it. Also, I just love the way pastels look. You can get so many different effects from them. You can layer them over other mediums, and pastels. The colors are wonderful because you don’t even have to mix them.”

Kay Ridge of Stockbridge garnered a Merit Award for her piece “Solo” during a recent reception for a juried art show at Oglethorpe University. Special photo

Ridge was one of three local artists who were recently accepted into the Southeastern Pastel Society 18th International Juried Exhibition at Oglethorpe University. In total, 246 entries were submitted for the event and 93 were accepted. Pieces from the exhibition will remain on display through June 24.

Ridge won a Merit Award at the exhibition’s May 17 reception for her piece titled “Solo.” Also featured in the exhibition are Herly Terant of McDonough and Renee Crouser of Locust Grove.

Ridge described pastel as “one of the first kinds of mediums ever used,” and said “many of the great masters” of art have found success with it. As for herself, Ridge estimated that she has done more than 600 paintings in her career. She has also been featured in scores of exhibitions, and has won more than 50 awards as an artist.

Still, she expressed her gratitude for being chosen to participate in the Oglethorpe event.

“It’s always an honor just to be included,” she said. “An artist never takes it for granted that they’re gonna get in a show to begin with. To get an an award when there’s all that competition from all over the country -- the Southeastern Pastel Society is the biggest show that I have entered, and I’ve entered it for several years and I’ve won awards before, but I never take it for granted.”

Ridge said exhibitions like the one at Oglethorpe are important for artists, those who aspire to be artists and for art lovers in general.

“When you’re going to enter big shows like that, you keep striving to improve your work. No matter how good you are, and there are always other artists there that all of us admire so much. With a show like this, we think about it all year, and we’re always eager to see each other’s paintings.”

Terant has been an artist for as long as she can remember. Originally from Venezuela, she began developing an interest in the visual arts from an early age.

“As a child I never left home without my art supplies,” said Terant. “As a six-year-old, I had my first collective art show at the National Fine Arts Museum in Caracas, Venezuela. I was also given the task of painting murals and posters for elementary school. As a young adult, I trained under a master artist. During that time, I acquired a preference for using the palette knife instead of the brush.”

Terant began painting with oil in 1972, and continued doing so until three years ago, when she became “fascinated” with soft pastel.

“I love that I can see results faster,” she said. “It is a dry media -- no waiting time to continue working. It can be mixed with other media. I really love it. There are no limits with pastel.”

Along with being a commissioned portrait artist, Terant also worked as a graphic designer for 23 years.

Terant’s portfolio includes art forms such as printmaking, sculpture, ceramics and drawings. Terant has participated in numerous art exhibitions spanning from 1975, including nine from this year alone.

Terant said she is grateful to have been included in the International Juried Exhibition.

“When I heard that one of my pieces was accepted, I felt very fortunate -- that was my big prize!” said Terant. “It is a big opportunity to show my work and to let people get to know me, appreciate others’ talents and learn from them. Personally, it gives me the incentive to be more prolific, and to improve my skills each day.”

Crouser has been an art lover all her life, but became a professional artist in 2015. She has created more than 300 paintings over the last four years.

“You can add another 100 to that, I’m sure, that were painted before becoming professional,” said Crouser. There are many of my early paintings living happily with friends and relatives.”

Pastels, she said, represent relatively new territory for her.

“I picked them up in 2014 and fell in love with the versatility,” said Crouser. “You can make a pastel painting look as if it’s done in watercolor or oil, loose or most detailed, realistic or impressionistic. Pastels offer some of the most beautiful colors I’ve ever seen. They are very forgiving, and there is no drying time!”

Crouser’s art has been featured in five juried exhibitions and approximately 20 non-juried events. She said she hadn’t expected to be chosen for the exhibition at Oglethorpe.

“To say that I was thrilled to be included in the 2018 Southeastern Pastel Society’s International Competition is an understatement,” said Crouser. “To have my painting hanging among the works of my pastel heroes? What an honor! Being included was reaching a goal I’d set for myself much sooner than I imagined I would.

“I feel that each exhibit or competition, including Oglethorpe, is an important part of the world of art,” she continued. “The exhibits give artists an opportunity to show others what is important to them. Whether the work is liked or not, it still sparks an emotion and conversation. Being juried into a competition is a wonderful form of validation that our work means something to someone else.”