The Art of Virginia Strom Precourt 

25.

New Earrings

1994

Pastel-leaf

41 1/4” x 37 1/4”

Price: $ 8,000

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Virginia Strom Precourt developed a new medium, called “pastel-leaf”, that she used to address more delicate subject matter. Working in small areas at a time, she would add a mixture of pumice, turpentine, and Hastings’ Gold Size to a panel on which fabric was adhered. After 30 minutes, the mixture would dry to a tacky stage, when she quickly would apply pastel, repeating the process until she had bonded several layers. The finished work consists of solid pigment impregnated with the binding agent, which resists flaking and fading. “The pastel-leaf method results in a wonderful brilliance,” she wrote. “I can build up layer after layer, and any chalkiness is removed since the pastel is bound from the rear.”

Whereas Virginia’s polyfresco series of paintings often would require two or three years from conception to completion, pastel-leafs gave her greater flexibility in her work and the chance to discover subjects away from her studio.

When she was growing up in Minnesota and Ohio, Virginia never had time for dance or music. (Her mother never forgave her for walking away from piano lessons.) Painting was her only muse and her artistic passion. But that’s not to say she was immune from the appeal of kindred spirits in other creative endeavors. In Boston’s South End, she would be a fly on the wall—more properly, a fly on the wall with a sketchbook in hand—as young ballerinas came to the Cyclorama to practice. What she sought to capture was not the dance itself, but the quiet moments between lessons when the students relaxed, recharged, and welcomed the happy moments that a new gift could provide.

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