Pastel class inspires students and teacher

Rose Dobbins teaches a pastel class at the Pocahontas County Art Guild on March 14. A prominent artist, Dobbins recently completed a painting for Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels. The class attracted a large contingent of 18 students. Impressed by the students’ motivation and skill, Dobbins, formerly of Texas, now living in Greenbrier County, agreed to return to Marlinton for a drawing class. G. Hamill photo.

A renowned guest instructor presented a day-long art class last Friday at the Pocahontas County Art Guild. Eighteen students attended the well-publicized class. Due to the success of the event, the teaching artist, Rose Dobbins, has agreed to teach more classes in Pocahontas County.

Dobbins is originally from California and lived in Texas for 30 years prior to moving to Greenbrier County.

“I moved to West Virginia in 2006 when my son moved to the east coast and got married, and I didn’t want to be a long-distance grandma,” she said. “I joined the Greenbrier Artists the week after I got here and found a nice community of art. They are primarily watercolor artists, so I was able to introduce them to a new media. It’s just kind of grown from there.”

The new media is pastels, of which Dobbins is a master. A pastel stick is similar to a stick of chalk or large crayon, which contains powdered pigment and a binder. After sketching with a pastel stick, the artist blends the colors on the canvas using a brush, moistened with water or rubbing alcohol.

“I’ve always been a detail type artist and with oils, I found that was not conducive,” Dobbins said. “With the pastels, I can produce a painting in three hours and I love the freshness of the color. It’s just a wonderful medium. The oils take longer to dry. With the pastels, you can produce something pretty quickly.”

Dobbins has achieved notoriety as a pastel artist. She recently completed a pastel painting of a Greenbrier County cottage, commissioned by Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, and her artwork hangs in The Greenbrier. In the past several years, Dobbins has specialized in pastel portraits and paintings of pets. Examples of her artwork can be seen at

“Recently, I decided I wanted to expand my horizons and learn a little bit about landscape work,” she said. “I took a workshop from a well-known artist, Barbara Jaenicke, and she brought some new ideas to me. So now,

An unfinished pastel painting by Rose Dobbins.
An unfinished pastel painting by Rose Dobbins.

I’m trying to share those ideas with others.”

RoseDobbins02smDobbins followed the crawl-walk-run method to present her day-long class. First, she demonstrated the pastel painting technique to the large group of students. Second, students were allowed the opportunity to practice pastel drawing with coaching from the instructor. Finally, Dobbins assigned a project, during which students painted their choice from a selection of animal eyes and faces. The resulting artwork, from students ranging from beginner to expert, was impressive.

Joy Cooper, an experienced artist who recently joined the Art Guild, was a student in Dobbins’ class.

“Today, she’s been an incredible teacher with these pastels,” said Cooper. “It was specifically for beginners, who hadn’t done any before and I think she’s done a marvelous job. The opportunity to study with somebody of her caliber has been amazing. Her work is just stunning.”

Cooper, who lives in Randolph County, said she’s very pleased with the Art Guild.

“This facility is amazing,” she said. “I don’t know where else you can come for $25 a year and have supplies available and a wonderful facility. I consider this my studio away from home”

Professional artist Buster Wiggins appreciated Dobbins’ teaching style.

“There’s not a lot of people who actually give you tips and pointers,” he said. “A lot of people, when you take an art class, it’s more like a demonstration. She actually gets involved and helps people with their techniques. She’s not scared of actually being critical, which is important.”

Dobbins said she was equally impressed with the motivation and skill of her students. Art Guild Director Cyla Allison said Dobbins had agreed to teach more classes in Marlinton.

“Rose was so inspired by her students that she offered to work out a time when she could come, maybe once a month to teach drawing,” she said. “That would be terrific.”

RoseDobbins04smAllison received excellent feedback from the art students.

“What went smoothly was when we did ‘show and tell,’” she said. “Everybody had something good about his or her work. Learning that art is from the inside, learning that getting it down on paper is simply a skill and not a reflection of vision, was reinforcing for beginners and more advanced artists.”

For information on Art Guild membership and activities, call 304-799-6707. See The Pocahontas Times for dates and times of Art Guild classes.




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