Art Beat: A Passion For Color | WMUK

Art Beat: A Passion For Color

Dec 24, 2020

Credit Courtesy of the Artist

A shock of color, a slant of light in the dark: contrasts and opposites are what draw Tracy Klinesteker to pastel painting.


After a journey through different art forms, Klinesteker found her passion in pastels. She explores a wide range of styles within the medium, from the exquisite detail of realism to the bright splashes of the abstract.

Klinesteker found her calling in 2012 when she took a class in pastel painting at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts (KIA).(P) “It was a beginning class,” Klinesteker says. “I walked in and (the instructor) had three or four tables laid out with pastels on all of them, and the colors just hit me in the face! And the feeling of using the pastel on the paper — and the color! — and I absolutely fell in love with the medium.”

Tracy Kleinstecker
Credit Bryan Kleinstecker

Klinesteker came to pastel painting relatively late. Her career includes teaching visually-impaired children at a school in Los Angeles, where she met her husband. She has also worked as a photographer in the U.S. Army in South Korea, as a graphic designer for NASA at Edwards Air Force Base, and at a newspaper in California.(P) Klinesteker says coming to pastel painting later in life had some advantages.

“Exploring different mediums like I have gives you a background to bring to the medium you end up doing,” she says. “For instance, with pastels, I don’t think I would have done as well if I hadn’t had a background in photography, because it allows to me to see the composition and the light a little better, because you’ve already experienced doing that through the lens. As well as graphic design, which helps you understand the foundation of putting something together on the page to make it look nice. Those two things particularly helped me in learning how to put the medium on the paper.”

Klinesteker is a member of the Pastel Society of America, the International Association of Pastel Societies, and the Great Lakes Pastel Society. She has won many awards, most recently in 2020, with first prize in the Southwest Florida Pastel Society "Valued Strokes" Online Show. She took second and a "People’s Choice" award in the Westminster Presbyterian Church Art Festival in 2020, and "Best in Show" at the Kalamazoo Valley Community College Alumni+ Art Show, where her work is shown every year. Klinesteker's work is also on exhibit in many business buildings in the greater Kalamazoo area and elsewhere.

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