The Power of Pastel
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Chalk vs Pastel
New visitors to my home often check out my studio and quite frequently neighbors and such know I am an artist, but don’t realize that I work in pastel. Once they see my setup and various sticks laying around, I have quite often heard, “oh! you work in chalk….” In the back of my mind a grating noise builds which sounds something close to a metal rake being scraped down a blackboard. But, outwardly, I smile and say, “ Yes, something like that…..”
A few years ago I had the opportunity to walk across hot coals in my bare feet. Yep. There was a big blazing bonfire (actual pic seen here) that burned for hours and then when it burned down, we walked across the red coals.
This past weekend I taught a workshop. And whether you are teaching one or attending one, I have found that there are 3 things that must be tackled head-on….
Two years ago I won the very prestigious “Prix des Pastel” Masters Circle Best of Show award at the IAPS convention. (Trust me- no one was more shocked than me. ) I remember an artist coming up to me and saying congratulations, which was then followed by a statement of something like, “Boy you have really rocketed to fame recently.” but with almost an accusatory tone.
"Grey is not a color..."
When my husband and I were first dating, we went skiing on a very bright sunny day. As we were heading up a ski lift, he asked me to give him an art lesson since he is an engineer and knew I was an artist. I responded by looking down on a row of pine trees that were below us and were casting beautiful shadows from the sun. I said, “ok, what color are the shadows?” He seemed confident when he answered, “they are grey”. I said, “ok, this is your first art lesson... grey is not a color”.
An "Ode to Aluminum Foil"
I have a quiet friend. A shiny, little helper made from astronaut-worthy stuff that has saved my life and the lives of many pastel sticks….
Do You Suffer From PPS?
This disease afflicts many artists and causes indecision, mini strokes, (that are timid) jittery nerves, wimpy colors and a false sense of being accomplished. Yes, it is the dreaded…. Precious Painting Syndrome.
So I discovered what I call the “powers” of pastel- that not all sticks are created equal. I started to rethink about my past and how I had used watercolors. ( I forgot to mention that when I started painting for myself after college, I worked in the watercolor medium.) Now, watercolor takes guts. Once something is down in a watercolor wash, there is no going back without repercussions. It takes a kind of fearlessness (or is it recklessness?) to work in watercolor because watercolor demands that you give up some control. But I loved it. Portraits in watercolor? Bring it on.
So, Senneliers….. When I bought them they were said to be the “best”. They were lauded as the “softest” and so I thought they would be just the thing for me. So I made paintings- lots of them. I had hoped to make strong paintings that would pop with color, but no matter what I did, I was always disappointed…sound familiar?
My First Pastel
When I was between my junior and senior year of high school, I attended a 2-week art class in the summer at a local art center. This was amazing for me and a first- I had not had a real art class yet unless you counted the high school art class where everyone doodled and threw erasers at each other!
"Power of Pastel"
So why is this blog called the “Power of Pastel?” If you are familiar with my recent work at all, you know that my travels have led me down a very dusty path to a love affair with pastels. I believe pastel paintings – yes, they are considered paintings, and not drawings- can be every bit as powerful as other mediums- oil paintings may get more respect in a gallery setting, and command more money, but there are artists that can create images in pastel that can blow your mind.
There are 3 reasons why I love and highly respect illustrators.
I remember always being fascinated with how things looked in space- the feeling of how objects were placed and the invisible pull between them.
Who Am I?
So, who am I? I guess that is the best place to start for a blog. Over the years I have had a varied path as a student, illustrator, graphic designer, muralist, DJ, freelance artist, teacher and portrait painter. I am a mom of three (four, if you count my husband), a caretaker, a wife and a very visual person.