Spanish Artist Imparts Lessons on Technique, Memory for Pierson Students

Internationally-renowned artist Perico Pastor demonstrates a technique using a Japanese paintbrush to Pierson High School sophomore Gianna Ekstra during a Reutershan Trust art workshop held at Pierson High School on Tuesday. Michael Heller photo

Perico Pastor’s words of encouragement on Tuesday were often soft-spoken, but they translated to intense, inspired ink lines and vibrant splashes of color, thoughtfully laid down by students in the latest Pierson Middle-High School after-school art workshop.

Mr. Pastor, who is from Barcelona, Spain, led the students in a two-week intensive imparting his techniques. Among them are the use of Japanese inks and paper to first outline subjects in crisp black lines, then submerging the page in water on top of a plastic or Plexiglas painting board, and finally brushing on color. The pigments often blend seamlessly thanks to what is essentially a hybrid liquid-paper medium, which will eventually dry, leaving behind a lightweight, ethereal painting.

The students took to the technique almost immediately.

“When there’s light behind them, they’re almost translucent, very luminous. It’s a beautiful effect,” said Peter Solow, a Pierson art teacher and a coordinator of the Donald Reutershan Educational Trust, which sponsored the workshop. “Perico uses these materials in a way that is particular to him. … He brings this entirely different aesthetic and knowledge about art and culture that is valuable in and of itself, above the fact that the kids are using these new materials.”

VIDEO: A look inside Perico Pastor’s Pierson workshop

Mr. Pastor’s workshop these last two weeks marks his fourth visit to Pierson, and this particular one will culminate in a pop-up exhibition at the John Jermain Memorial Library on Saturday and Sunday.

“The learning process in itself is really exhilarating,” Mr. Pastor said. “We work on a narrow choice of subjects so as not to get them distracted or overwhelmed if they cannot find the right subject.”

The theme of this year’s workshop is “memory,” focusing on faces and people of the past.

“The main subject is the different ways in which we remember and honor people who are no longer there, and also to remember that some people disappear and have no one to remember or honor them,” Mr. Pastor said.

Mr. Pastor, who has illustrated for many newspapers and magazines during his prolific, international career, said he is pleased with the students’ work.

“They’re extremely disciplined, and they have been extremely well trained at this school because the art program has been good,” he said. “…Their level of achievement is really high.”

His students raved about the workshop.

“I’m really enjoying it because it’s not something I’ve done before,” said eighth grader Abby Sherwood. “I really enjoy doing art, but I don’t always have a ton of time to do it because I like sports also, so having this time after school is special.”

“This technique is really interesting, painting with water and materials I wouldn’t normally use,” said senior Catheliya Reed, who has applied to attend an art college next year.

Kai Breskin, an eighth grader who is new to Pierson this year, said he is having a good time, and said the workshop is helping him improve his art skills.

“It’s different, but it’s a challenge, and it’s very cool,” Kai said. “The end result is very pretty.”