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Posted on Thu. Aug. 28, 2014 - 12:01 am EDT

Pastel painting and two local artists' contrasting styles spotlighted in 'Different Strokes' exhibit at Castle Gallery Fine Art

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Pastel painters

WHAT: The pastel painting styles of abstract artist Michael Poorman and landscape artist Douglas Runyan will be featured in the exhibit “Different Strokes.”

WHEN: Opening reception 5-8 p.m. today; regular hours 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday and by appointment at 426-6568. The exhibit continues through September.

WHERE: Castle Gallery, 1202 W. Wayne St.

COST: Free, with cash bar


One has been painting and drawing all his life, while the other decided at age 40 to give it a try. One works in the abstract, and the other almost always paints landscapes.

One likes to stash his art away and come back to it later — sometimes years later — to add just the right finishing touches. The other starts and finishes a painting within a few hours.

But friends Michael Poorman of Fort Wayne and Douglas Runyan of New Haven share one thing in common artistically — they both work in pastels.

Their work will be featured in the “Different Strokes” exhibit opening today with an artists' reception 5-8 p.m. at Castle Gallery Fine Art, 1202 W. Wayne St. Runyan will demonstrate his painting style at 6 p.m. The gallery, which sells works by both artists, will continue the exhibit through September.


“I've been drawing since I was a little kid,” Poorman, 73, recalled.

While he grew up, his parents had prints of works by all of the great impressionist painters hanging through the house, he said. In high school, he and a couple of friends would create their own comic books.

Poorman's talent attracted art school scholarships. He went to the Fort Wayne Art School for one year and then transferred to the John Herron School of Art and Design in Indianapolis.

While working as an artist, Poorman also supported himself and his family by working as a draftsman and producing architectural drawings for a local architectural firm. He retired from that job in 2006, but he still does some architectural work on a part-time basis.

Along with pastels, Poorman also creates art in ink, crayons and acrylic paint. His work is owned by buyers from around the country, including Indiana Tech, which was purchased a number of pieces.

Years ago, he said, he began playing with a child's pastel drawing kit. “It was kind of fun,” he said, and he began doing more work in pastels.

“I really enjoy the oil pastels a lot,” he said, noting he can get different looks by rubbing the pastel with his fingernail, spreading it around or scratching off some of the color. Oil pastels also work well if he wants to add them over an ink drawing or watercolor painting.

He enjoys working on smaller pieces of art.

“It somehow is more playful for me,” he said.

He sometimes will work for years on a piece, he said. His studio is full of pieces he has started and then set aside, waiting to come back to and finish them.


Runyan, 51, has been a practicing attorney for 25 years, with his own firm in New Haven.

“I've always been interested in art,” he said, but most of that interest early in his career was limited to viewing art and collecting some pieces.

About 1990, he took a class in stained glass art, and he made stained glass objects for a few years.

“When I turned 40, I told my wife I thought I should take some art classes,” he said.

His last real art classes had been in eighth grade. In early 2004, he began taking painting classes and attending workshops. By 2007, he had his first piece accepted in to the Hoosier Salon competition, and it was purchased by a collector from Chicago.

Runyan now juggles painting with working full time as a lawyer.

“Art's good when you have another career,” he said. “It uses another part of your brain.”

Just as Poorman, he typically works in pastels. He likes the fact they are pure pigment. They go on thick and luminous, and he doesn't have to wait for them to dry.

Runyan prefers to paint landscapes, both in Indiana and in the New England area. Many of his Indiana scenes feature farm fields, old buildings or natural areas. He includes a red barn in many rural scenes, he said, to give the eye somewhere to rest amid the green. He enjoys the challenge of painting the sun and shadows in snow scenes.

Runyan likes painting en plein air — in the outdoors. That style encourages him to work quickly, because the light on a scene can change dramatically after two or three hours.

He typically completes a painting within about three hours and tries to produce at least one painting a week. Like Poorman, he enjoys creating smaller pieces.

Runyan also enjoys entering his work in competitions because the feedback helps him grow as an artist. In the past 11 years, he's won a number of awards and has come much farther than he ever expected.

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