Pastels provide a happy medium for budding artists (PHOTO GALLERY)

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Pastel medium instructor Linda Kaufman of Margate chats with Ken Kaufman and JoAnn McKnight of Margate. Pastel medium instructor Linda Kaufman of Margate chats with Ken Kaufman and JoAnn McKnight of Margate. VENTNOR – The local Cultural Art Center was abuzz with activity Thursday, May 29 as its pastel artists displayed their award-winning paintings to a packed audience.

Each artist’s painting technique, color pallet and subject matter was as unique as their personalities – from vibrant colors to soft pastels, some heavily applied, others softer; pets, still lives and portraits filled the room.

The paintings were impressive, especially since some of the artists have been painting with pastels for just a few short years.

Artist Linda Kaufman, who finds inspiration painting what lies beneath the sea, instructs the class every week in what she calls a multi-layered weaving of color. She has been teaching at the center for 10 years and this was her third exhibition, she said.


Synthia Miller Hayoun of Longport displays her pastel paintings during Ventnor’s pastel artist reception Thursday, May 29. Synthia Miller Hayoun of Longport displays her pastel paintings during Ventnor’s pastel artist reception Thursday, May 29. “Everyone here never did pastels before, but they have an instinctive talent for it,” Kaufman said. “Once they try it, they get hooked on the medium. It’s very forgiving and easy to go over mistakes.”

Although Synthia Miller Hayoun of Longport has been doing oils, charcoals and drawings most of her life, she started attending Kaufman’s group about three years ago because she didn’t have much experience working with pastels.

“The colors are so vivid, you can never have enough colors,” Miller Hayoun said. “Some of us have hundreds of pastels, but never the right color.”

With each little stick of pure pigment costing about $5, it can be an expensive form of expression.

She enjoys being with the 12 to 15 artists in the class because “everyone has a different technique, respects each other and approves of what everyone else is doing,” Hayoun said.

One of her most colorful paintings is a portrait titled, “The Red Room,” which was damaged during Ventnor’s Chef’s Night Out in April.

“It was displayed on an easel at one of the restaurants when a wind came along and blew it over. The glass broke and pastel dust went flying. I had to touch it up,” she said.

Alexandra Farber, who has been attending the group for four years, expresses her love of pets by painting portraits of her seven dogs and one cat, all of whom are older animals that have been rescued from the Cumberland County SPCA.

“Some of them have had tragic lives and they have souls, so I make sure to capture their personalities in their eyes, noses and mouths,” Farber said.

She has learned so much in Kaufman’s class that she has turned professional and does pet portraits on commission.

“I learned not to draw with pastels, but to paint with them. It’s a real pleasure because I know how much these pets mean to their owners. All I need is a good photo,” she said.

Shirley D. Belitsky displayed her blue ribbon painting, “Nimble Fingers,” which took first place and a $100 cash prize in the Atlantic County Senior Art Exhibit last month. Now it will go to the New Jersey State Council on the Arts exhibit where it will compete with submissions from each county in the state.

“I love doing hands. This was taken from a photograph in a magazine. I thought it was beautiful and it turned out to be very challenging,” Belitsky said.

She plans to incorporate a black mat to highlight the white pastels before sending it to the state competition, she said.

Carolyn LaMountain of Margate, who won first place in last year’s senior competition, displayed her works, including “Orange Bird,” which she saw sitting in a blooming cherry blossom tree on the Margate Parkway.

Kathy Steele of Ventnor was cleaning out her grandmother’s home when she came across some old postcards depicting Atlantic City landmarks. After joining the class three years ago, she decided to do a painting of what was once the ballroom at Young’s Pier. Her mother Nancy Steele, 94, of Steele’s Fudge fame, viewed the work during the reception.

“Oh, I wish John Young could see this, he would just love it,” the nonagenarian said.

And, Carole Segal of Margate just started painting three years ago. Her painting of the Ventnor Fishing Pier won third place in the senior competition in the pastel category.

“I was always a frustrated artist. I get such a sense of accomplishment doing this, especially because I always wanted to be an artist, and this is the closest I’ve ever come to it. I feel like an artist now,” Segal said.

For more information about Kaufman’s eight-week summer pastel painting class, call the Ventnor City Cultural Art Center at 609-823-7952 or see


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