Following an opening exhibit in December, ART@EPL — our partnership with the Lehigh Art Alliance to bring art alive at the library — is set to hold its first free lectures and workshops this month.

On Saturday, Jan. 11, 3-4 p.m., international award-winning artist Marianne Knipe will discuss the history of pastel and show examples from contemporary pastel artists. The talk will be held in the Margaret Knoll Gardner lecture room and there’s no registration required — just drop in and enjoy!

On Monday, Jan. 13 and Jan. 20, 6:30-8:30 p.m., Marianne will hold two workshops on pastel (both are the same). Registration is required, and while Marianne’s workshops are currently filled, you can join the waiting list or sign up now for upcoming workshops with other artists by contacting Lauri or calling 610-965-9284 (go here for a full list or see below). Workshops are open to adults and teens 16 and up, and all materials are provided, thanks to a grant from the PA Partners in the Arts.

Recently, we asked Marianne to tell us more about her background and her upcoming events…

When did you know you were an artist?
As a child, my parents took us to the museums in New York City on many occasions. At that time they were all free. One of my earliest memories was walking up the staircase at the Metropolitan Museum of Art — being there was pure magic to me!

When did you decide to pursue it professionally?
I grew up on the cliffs of the Hudson River. It was a short bus ride into Manhattan. For my 15th birthday I was given a month of anatomy classes at the Art Students League on 57th Street. At that point, I planned on a life in art.

How has art fit into your life and work?
I work as a professional artist. It is my life. Previously, I was textile and wallcovering designer, and after that, I spent many years as an art teacher in the public school system.

What will you be discussing in your lecture on Jan. 11?
I am passionate about the art of pastel. I will present the origins of the history of pastel and present contemporary pastel artists. I will also show a painting in progress.

Tell us about your workshops on Jan. 13 and 20? What can attendees expect?
My class will be an introduction to the art of pastel painting. Technique is important in this art form — just as it would be in oil painting or watercolor painting. One can easily become frustrated when not following basic principles.

What’s your advice for anyone who wants to explore art, but can’t seem to find the time or feels intimidated by a blank canvas?
If you are interested in making art, reserve some time for it! There are many classes out there to explore for all levels — some organizations even provide materials. Just do it — and maybe waste some paper along the way. However, you just might learn something and maybe even paint something that you value.

[You can learn more about Marianne Knipe and view more of her work at her website.]