Discovering Haste

Stunning watercolors on display at Open Studios stop

Maybe it’s because she wouldn’t allow herself to professionally show her art until the last decade, or perhaps it’s because of her middle child in a big family upbringing… but the hugely talented Pam Haste of Paso Robles doesn’t seem to know how good she is.

Her watercolor landscapes and abstract works must be made like her name, in haste, because as the water dries, and the moisture dissipates, what’s left must be well-conceived in the seconds her brushes apply the paint. Unlike oil painting, watercolor offers no forgiveness. Corrections are not allowed, however Haste’s works embrace “accidental effects,” while incorporating abstract elements in a distinctive rich and colorful compositions. She uses some pen and ink and grease pencil to highlight certain line movements.

“You’re always aspiring to find that style that’s yours,” she said. “A lot of artists have a particular style that they stick with. Sometimes I find that a little boring. I kind of like switching it up a little bit – like I’m stretching myself a little bit more.”

“I keep on thinking I’ll venture into oils again like I have before but I kind of picked up watercolor and wanted to try to master it if I could. Personally I think watercolor is really difficult because the conditions – how moisture in the air makes a difference as to how the paint flows – so it’s ever-changing. Sometimes you’re lucky and sometimes you’re not,” Haste laughs.  

In the essence of time, Haste’s compositions are transcendent: the way the color and forms are arranged and the fresh layouts and unique perspective is so refreshing — one wonders — how did she think to sink the farmhouse into the dry grass? How did she know to blur the edges of the tree to create such flow and dynamism? If the public can’t afford one of her amazing paintings at Open Studios, at least she will have printed greeting cards of her works, and that way, the community can take home a little piece of artistic mastery, no matter how small.

“I like painting with friends,” Haste said. She meets a group of artists on Tuesday mornings at Studios on the Park as part of Paso Robles Art Association. “It’s a group of people I’ve been painting with for quite a long time.”

“If you ever go out plein air painting, it’s really neat,” Haste said. “Maybe you’ll have seven, ten people painting the same subject and everybody looks at it differently. They see different things. I find going out painting plein air with other people really fun because you realize each one of us — our eyes are so different — and how we see things in the world is so different… You learn from other people’s artwork because you sort of see it through their eyes even though you have been looking at it for the past two to three hours.”

John Barnard, one of the Central Coast’s most beloved and prolific painters, started the plein air group.

“He was a wonderful teacher, and also a good mentor,” Haste said. “He’s one of those people who passes their interests onto others. He’s just so kind to everyone, and he says nice things about everyone’s work. He always looks for the good in what you do. You have to really push him to give you hard criticism.”

Haste doesn’t take the ups and downs of making art too seriously. “As John Barnard said, ‘You get some stinkers along the way,’” she laughed. “It’s fun to continually stretch… I love what I do and I just feel fortunate to do it. That sums it up for most artists, I think,” she said.

Haste’s process in the creation of her fluid watercolors begins with inspiration. On a drafting table off the living room of her house a ways up the 46 East, she has a spindle of art cards from various artists, Cézanne, Toulouse-Lautrec, her mentor Barnard, and the latest collection of cards from her recent trip to France and Germany with her husband. Above, on a bulletin board, are nametags from various shows she’s participated in, like the Paso Robles Art Association Juried Show and the Central Coast Watercolor Society Member Show. She has also shown at the Mid-State Fair, Paso Robles Library, and businesses around town.

Haste has always been a creative, and drew all the time as a child growing up in Covina. She was the third child of five, “the peacemaker” she said, laughing.

“I had a great art teacher in high school, a really creative woman,” Haste said, and made sure she took classes from the teacher all four years of high school.

She went on to study art at UC Irvine as a Studio Art Major with a focus on drawing and etching. She felt fortunate to work at the University Art Gallery at UC Irvine and also the University Publications Office while completing her studies. In additions to her art training at the university, Haste has taken workshops and classes from John Barnard, Joy Krull and Tom Fong.

She met her husband David in college and when they were in their twenties the couple moved to Australia for David’s teaching job. They spent a  a couple years abroad before returning to California. In Australia, Haste taught art and art history at a Catholic school, and also found work making scientific illustrations and perspective drawings.

The Hastes moved to Paso Robles in the 70s for her husband’s teaching job. David Haste taught middle school science at George Flamson and Lewis Middle School. Haste worked as a drafter at Custom Woodcraft in Paso Robles for many years while raising her three children. She loved her both her jobs: motherhood and the creative Custom Woodcraft position she worked at part time while enjoying motherhood.

“I painted when I was younger, and then when I had children I didn’t paint very much,” she said. “There wasn’t a lot in art jobs around here and so I promised myself that later in life I’d get back to it.”

Now that her children are grown and out of the house, Haste kept her personal promise and is back to painting. For the past ten years or so, she’s been painting the beauty of this area, and expressing her impressions life and the local surroundings. She has developed such a large body of work, she decided to push herself and try to sell some paintings. At home finds herself getting lost in her work.

“Sometimes you just start painting and you get into it and you realize, ‘oh my gosh, four hours went by,’” she said. “It’s fun to do something when you love it and if you can make it so it pays for itself, hey, that’s great.”

She loves going to art galleries and open studios herself.

“I love looking at art wherever it is,” she said. After her trip to Europe, especially the modern fountains she viewed at the Pompidou Center in Paris, she took back memories full of inspiration with her. “It inspires me to do something different, something more,” she said. Haste purchased a little watercolor painting from a Parisian artist in Montmartre, which is also pinned up on her studio bulletin board next to a photo of John Barnard. The style of the painting was so much like her own, the painters across the globe could have been long lost art twins.

Haste is sharing an Open Studio session with watercolor and oil painter Alice Ronke at 621 Oak Street, Suite A. on both weekends of the Arts Obispo Open Studios Events: October 14 to 15 and October 21 to 22, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Learn more about Pam Haste at

You may reach Reporter Beth Giuffre at [email protected] for questions and/or feedback.

© 2018-Paso Robles Press

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