Not Your Mother’s Pastels: Phyllis Randall
The three artists featured in Waxlander’s recently opened group show–Phyllis Randall, Marshall Noice, and Sangita Phadke–have much in common. They all admire nature and possess an innate talent for capturing and communicating its beauty. They all lend an aspect of “whimsy” to their paintings, ranging from Noice’s playful use of color to the personalities that Phadke creates for the vegetables and flowers she paints. They all work with the same medium–pastel. And yet, when admiring the paintings of these three artists side by side, one cannot help but appreciate how unique their visions are.
Phyllis Randall, the acclaimed artist known for her exploration of the architecture, light, and vibrant colors of the Southwest, takes viewers on a special journey in her latest body of work. Entitled “Pastel, Pigment and Passion,” her portion of the group exhibition is a study of nature. Untamed wildflowers, carefully potted plants, and overgrown weeds sprout within her paintings, adding a “new floral element and texture” to her usual work.
In her twenty years as a painter, Randall has delved into the familiar elements of the Southwest: its architecture, its vibrancy, and its intense light. When peering into one of her paintings, the viewer can almost feel the brightness of the desert sun, the rough texture of the adobe, the expansiveness of the purple sky. A once-upon-a-time graphic designer, Randall’s artwork is characterized by her geometrical prowess and her command of light and shadow. But there is one other element, equally as important as the others, that makes Randall’s paintings so enchanting: the artist is in love with the Southwest.
Since her first visit to Santa Fe in 1993, Phyllis Randall has been “enthralled by the beauty and wonder of Santa Fe and the surrounding area.” Her devotion to the Southwest has altered her artistic path since the day that she first laid eyes on it. Originally trained in oil portraiture and realism, Randall made the transition to pastel because she realized that was better suited for capturing the “rich, pure colors” of the Southwest and for “reflect[ing] the play of light and shadow, giving the painting visual excitement and depth.”
In all of her work, this visual excitement and depth is present. One cannot look at one of Randall’s paintings without feeling a sense of wonder. The beauty of the Southwest has been widely celebrated, but it is too easy, in the bustle of life, to stop paying attention to beauty. Phyllis Randall’s artwork calls us back: to the gorgeous slant of the shadows cast by the midday sun, to the bright contrast of a blue window against an adobe wall, to the shifting magic of the sky, to the nimble stalks and unfurled petals of the flowers that rise to meet it.
“Not Your Mother’s Pastels” opened at Waxlander Gallery on June 5th and runs through June 18th. It features the artwork of Phyllis Randall, Sangita Phadke, and Marshall Noice.
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