The Arts Scene: The allure of soft pastels

Last Thursday night, a group gathered in the gallery at Gilbert Cellars to enjoy the opening reception for an exhibition of artist Darcie Roberts. Around 7 p.m., the socializing was interrupted for a few moments so I could introduce the artist and let her talk a little bit about her work.

One of the guests asked Roberts what pastels she likes to use, and she responded with a list of different brands and what she enjoyed about each one. It made me recall using pastels in school, the way they smelled and their texture. I am afraid more pastel ended up on my skin than the paper.

Pastels are usually made into a stick. The stick is formed of powdered pigments that are held together with a binder.

For Darcie, she says she “started to take art seriously in 2016 when I picked up soft pastel.” Her formal art training started around 2003 when she began taking various workshops at the Larson Gallery each summer. She tells me her “training intensified with the focus of pastel work through the Dakota Art Center pastel workshops.”

It is clear in this exhibit how her work has been influenced by the Yakima landscape. She was raised here and says she “developed an appreciation for the beauty of the shrub-steppe and the agricultural landscape around me. I have lived in four countries and both coasts of the United States but am forever spellbound by the beauty of our local landscape. It has been very rewarding to share the beauty of our area with others.”

You can see her work in pastel now in the gallery below the Gilbert Cellars tasting room on Yakima Avenue and Front Street until around the middle of January.

• David Lynx is executive director of the Larson Gallery at Yakima Valley College. Learn more at

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