Teacher to bring pastel-colored vision to Haiti
Pennridge School District art teacher Marianne Knipe sees the world through pastel-colored glasses.
Her house in Allentown is full of ethereal pastel paintings — visions of picturesque French streets, Monet-esque pastures and dreamy Transylvanian gypsy women.
Knipe, who teaches at J.M. Grasse and Dr. Patricia A. Guth elementary schools, is a worldrenowned professional pastel artist. In a couple days, she will be embarking on a trip to Haiti for an international art workshop.
Knipe began working with pastels in 2001 when she was recovering from two hip replacements.
“I decided to treat myself to a
a box of French pastels,” she said, as if talking about a box of chocolates.
Her pastel collection, however, has grown considerably since then.
“I literally probably have 1,500 pastels,” she said.
It takes anywhere from a day to three months for Knipe to complete a pastel work. She starts with charcoal on French sandpaper, which allows for many layers. In Haiti, she hopes to work en plein air — the French expression for in the open air — though other times she takes photographs of people or landscapes to work off of.
Knipe keeps certain pieces she’s attached to, but when she sells her artwork, the price ranges anywhere between $300 and $1,800.
Knipe has traveled to countries like Austria, Hungary, France, 0oUoFFo DnG 5oPDnLD IoU KHU DUWwork.
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The Haitian art camp Knipe is JoLnJ Wo Ls sLPLlDU Wo WKH 5oPDnLDn one, but she’ll also spend some time sightseeing and working with children.
Knipe will participate in the “my KH$57 wLWK H$,7,” FKDULWy HxKLbition. The 30 international artists going to Haiti will donate some of their artwork “in solidarity with the children of Haiti and help them provide the necessary educational materials to the victims of the Haiti earthquake disaster in 2010,” according to a press release.
Knipe is also looking forward to working with an orphanage in Haiti. She’ll be visiting one orphanage where an elderly lady is taking care of 100 orphans, according to Knipe’s Haitian friend and art camp organizer, Patrick Cauvin. When she returns to the U.S., Knipe plans to organize a fundraiser with Pennridge students to raise money for the orphanage.
The trip to Haiti, however, creates some anxiety for Knipe.
“After reading the state department’s website, I was going to cancel,” Knipe said of her trip to Haiti over Thanksgiving break. “People get killed, kidnapped, raped and murdered every day. So, I was thinking, ‘Why wouldn’t I just want to make a turkey and fall asleep?’”
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5LFKDUG Lsn’W WKH only one supportive of Knipe’s passion for pastels; Knipe’s students have seen her artwork on display in the library.
“The kids are so sweet and wonderful,” Knipe said. “They often say, ‘0y WHDFKHU Ls D UHDl DUWist!’”
.nLSH WHDFKHs fiUsW WKUouJK fiIWK JUDGH DW WKH Wwo 3Hnnridge elementary schools, and she has organized art auctions in the Pennridge area for fundraising purposes.
Knipe recently organized a children’s art auction to raise money for a Pennridge student who has cancer. Knipe said she expected the auction would raise somewhere between $1,000 and $2,000. Instead, the event raised $7,000.
Knipe sometimes uses pastels in the classroom, though the art medium can get messy with kids.
“vou know, if you’re not experienced, you can just imagine what the cleanup is,” she said.
The medium rubs off easily, but pastels are surprisingly resilient. Knipe said she went to an exhibit in New vork with oil and pastel paintings from the 1700s. The oil paintings looked faded, while the pastels looked bright — as if they had been done yesterday, said Knipe.
“0y KHDUW Ls UHDlly wLWK SDsWHls. … They need light — they are luminous,” Knipe said, beaming herself.
Marianne Knipe creates pictures of faces from all around the world.