Mike Mahon's art career has spanned over 30 years. He paints portraits and landscapes in both oil and pastel, and currently lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, supplying four New Mexico galleries. A signature member of the Pastel Society of America and the Plein Air Painters of New Mexico, he is widely respected as a workshop instructor. Now, after years of frustration with pastel setups that were simply conversions of oil painting plein air easels, he has developed an easel specifically designed for the needs of pastelists.
How the idea came about
Since he often paints in both city locations and mountain wilderness areas, Mike wanted a compact system that used a small footprint. He also needed to secure his pastels and painting materials from damage.
With much experimentation, a wonderful solution emerged. He devised a system to hold his pastels vertically, next to his drawing, and at or near eye level. This new “Mike Mahon's Pastel Porter” could also be rotated from a horizontal to a vertical configuration in seconds, and can hold over 300 pastel sticks of all brands. By virtue of this innovative idea his pastels are now easier to organize, and best of all, the pastels are automatically cleaned each time they are removed from their foam pockets!
Workshop students' lives made easier
He had also noted that the students from his workshops often carried too much awkward equipment in the field, making their learning situation less than ideal. When these students saw the relative ease with which Mike painted using his new pastel system, even in difficult locations, they began to request that he make it commercially available.
The new commercial version has many improvements and conveniences which make handling pastels either in the studio or field simpler and more efficient, so that the artist can focus on painting rather than lugging around and setting up heavy equipment.
With a modest carrying case containing the Mike Mahon's Pastel Porter and a light weight tripod-easel, the artist is ready to leave the studio on a moment's notice. Set up and breakdown takes only a few minutes and the complete studio on a board even fits in a medium sized suitcase, completely safe for air travel!