Greg Trombly has worked with pastels for more than 30 years, leading workshops to share his passion along the way. He is mostly self-taught but has worked alongside acclaimed artists such as Terri Ludwig and Daniel Greene. He exhibits artwork in New York, where he resides, and his artwork is in private collections throughout the country.
Trombly, who earned a doctorate in the cultural foundations of education from Union Institute and University, Cincinnati, Ohio, was an educator and administrator for the public school system and at the university level before retiring. His venture into pastels began by happenstance when he took an adult education class taught by a high school teacher in New York.
“I’d always had an interest in drawing and this class introduced me to the medium of soft pastels,” Trombly said. “The teacher taught me the basics of drawing and this is where I got the concept of being able to teach art.”
Trombly said he practiced by copying magazine covers, drawing horses, or whatever baseball player was on the cover of Sports Illustrated at the time to hone his skills before taking his own photographs to transform into paintings.
A New Yorker at heart, Trombly and his wife Carol, have long traveled during the winter months, with Trombly setting up a studio wherever they went to capture the beauty of where they were staying. Over the years, that has included Morro Bay, Alabama, Hawaii, Canada and a variety of places along the East Coast. This is their fifth winter in Morro Bay.
“I’m drawn to the natural environment that I am in at a particular time,” Trombly said. “I try to get connected to whatever setting I am living in and create pieces that go with it.”
His work includes seascapes, landscapes, floral paintings and a smattering of wildlife. In Morro Bay, he is drawn to the ambiance of the ocean and its shoreline and the marine environment.
Trombly said he thinks of his art as “looking out at our natural environment and trying to capture a piece of it in some way that communicates to others the depth and beauty of that particular moment in time.” Students who take his workshop are encouraged to bring a photograph with them to paint. The personal connection is an important first step in painting, he said. “Once you have that connection, the first emotional connection, the drawing and painting that follow, can be taught.”
Finishing a painting is energizing, he said. Yet, even 30 years later, it doesn’t necessarily come easy. “Sometimes it is a wrestling match between paper and the medium and what I want to achieve,” he said. “Sometimes I win, but sometimes I don’t. Every piece is a challenge but an educational experience — I learn something about the medium I am using every time I create a piece.”
At the end of the three-day workshop, Trombly said his goal is to have his students walk away with confidence in using the medium of pastel to create art and understand that every piece can be a challenge that can be overcome.
“They take ownership of what is it they have done and see how they bonded with the material they are using and the subject matter — that is why I do this,” he said.