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Artist Interview: Kim Eshelman


Kim Eshelman is an American contemporary artist of whom specialises in pastel work. Her landscapes are inspired by her hometown in Washington, with references to trees/ponds/skies whilst playing with light. Kim is a member of the International Association of Pastel Societies with regularly exhibiting and awards won along the way. Kim's work can be seen worldwide, including the Pastel Museum in Saint-Auyale, France. 

We had the pleasure of asking a few questions, delving into her world of pastels!

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©Kim Eshelman

'I often enjoy incorporating a mixed media underpainting into a pastel work. Since I used watercolor, acrylic, and mixed media for so long I’m sure that some of that transferred over to my experimental attitude toward using pastel.'

Kim Eshelman

'I’ve always been intrigued by colour, and worked for several years on a series of abstracted jazz musicians. For as long as I can remember I’ve been experimenting with different styles, techniques, and mediums..'

Kim Eshelman

Q: We love your recent beautiful landscapes, inspired by your home surroundings! Would you be able to tell us about your artistic journey prior to your work now?

Thank you! Prior to moving to a rural area about four years ago I worked much more with acrylic and mixed media on large canvases. I’ve always been intrigued by color, and worked for several years on a series of abstracted jazz musicians. For as long as I can remember I’ve been experimenting with different styles, techniques, and mediums. But now I’m completely infatuated with pastel and don’t see this changing anytime soon!


©Kim Eshelman

Q: What is your favourite thing about working with dry pastels?

What’s unique about pastel is it really incorporates both drawing and painting. It’s the best of both worlds! It also appeals to me because it’s so easy to walk away and come back to pick right up where I left off without having to clean brushes, etc. I can also achieve a finished piece quite quickly in pastel compared to other mediums.

Q: What is your go to surface/paper when using pastels?

I am constantly experimenting and love to use many surfaces. That said, I regularly reach for Sennelier La Carte, Clairfontaine Pastelmat, and UArt sanded paper for a lot of my work. However, I also very much enjoy LuxArchival, Multimedia panels, Pastel Premiere, and even some printmaking as well as other unsanded papers. The surface I choose depends on what my goals are for the finished painting.


©Kim Eshelman

Q: With artworks such as ‘Gentle Rising’ you have achieved a level of texture, have you used methods that you have learnt whilst working with different mediums in the past such as: Acrylic, Watercolour and Mixed Media?

I often enjoy incorporating a mixed media underpainting into my pastel work. Since I used watercolor, acrylic, and mixed media for so long I’m sure that some of that experimental mindset transferred over to my attitude toward using pastel. I enjoy using ink, gouache, watercolor, tailor’s chalk, and more in my underpainting.

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'Gentle Rising' by ©Kim Eshelman

Q: Do you have any advice to artists who are thinking of trying to work with pastels?

Just like any other medium, buy the best quality materials you can afford. Working with student grade pastels and papers can be a very frustrating experience!

Q: Could you tell us some fun facts people may not know about you?

I’m left-handed - perhaps all that right brain activity is where some of my creative nature comes from! Also, living in the country affords me the opportunity to really connect with the wildlife in my backyard. If I’m not at the easel you’ll likely find me out in the field feeding the wild birds out of my hand and watching the deer, bear, squirrels, and more.

Q: With having achieved multiple exhibits and awards in your career thus far, has there been a standout moment?

This year has been quite special for me because I’ve achieved Master Status with the International Association of Pastel Societies. It’s been a goal of mine for several years. It was also quite a thrill to win the 2022 Prix du Conseil Départemental de la Dordogne at the Saint-Aulaye International Pastel Salon in France. This year I’ll be attending in person.


©Kim Eshelman

Q: Thank you so much for your time and knowledge! We would love to know what you are currently working on/ do you have any exciting future plans in the making?

Right now I’m preparing some pieces to send to the 2024 Salon in France mentioned above. I’m thrilled to be heading over for a three week tour of Europe in July which will include visiting the exhibition. On March 13 I’ll be demoing for Art School Live on YouTube with Eric Rhoads, so I’m excited about that. I’m also teaching for Pastel Live in September 2024 on Essential Techniques Day.


©Kim Eshelman

Be sure to follow and find out more about Kim Eshelman:
Instagram: @kim_eshelman
Website: www.kimeshelman.com

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