Daniel E. Greene is widely recognized as one of the foremost portrait artists in the US. He has created portraits of numerous leaders in industry, government, academia, science, art, medicine and other areas, including Eleanor Roosevelt, astronaut Walter Schirra, author Ayn Rand and William Randolph Hearst. His work can be found in the collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Smithsonian Institution and the White House.
Greene works in oil for many of his portraits, but he is also a master of pastel, and many of his portraits are in that fascinating and challenging medium (images at left).
Pastel can be thought of either as a drawing medium, as in the very graphic pastels of Degas, or as a painting medium, as seen in the French pastel artists of the Rococo period. Greene works graphically at times, but his most striking work takes pastel well into the realm of painting.
Pastel is finely powdered pigment mixed with just enough gum or resin to bind it into a paste (hence the word “pastel”) and then molded into sticks. This is responsible for its brilliance, it is almost pure pigment, but also creates limitations. Because there is so little binder, at some point you run into a limit of how much pigment will adhere to the surface. To me, pastel’s limitations make work like Green’s pastel portraits even more impressive.
Greene was an instructor at the National Academy of Design and the Art Students League of New York. He is the author of two books on pastel painting: Pastel and The Art of Pastel. Both of them are unfortunately out of print, but you may have luck finding copies of the former as it was in print for over 25 years.
There is also an excellent gallery of his portrait work on the Masters of Portrait Art site given below.