Pure Pigment

February 22, 2020

The medium of soft pastel is as close as it comes to working with pure pigment, as long as the pastels are of a professional grade. The sticks are made of powdered pigment and enough binder to hold the pigment in stick form. The softest pastels can turn to dust in the hand, and then the drawing process becomes a matter of rubbing the pure color dust into the paper surface. Here is another batch of soft pastel drawings. The previous post describes more about my process, so I won’t repeat. All are approximately 12 x 20 inches.

 

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Two Swimming

 

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Summer Sweet

 

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Deep Water

 

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Field Study

 

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Beyond the Dark

Last of the Birds

February 18, 2020

 

Almost all of the birds have flown the nest. I am writing of the abstract soft pastel drawings that were based on bird coloration. There are only these two framed pieces remaining from the original series. In addition, there is one framed drawing, Dove + Crow, from a series of larger drawings. This was the only one of that series to be based on birds, and it followed on the group of crow drawings which you can see in an earlier post. Most of the crow drawings are available still, although unframed, and many of the larger drawings are also available unframed. Check back here to see some of the larger pieces later in the week.

 

Making these soft pastel drawings is all about color, the medium, and the process. I am interested in the laying down, layering, and sometimes lifting of the colors, as well as the color relationships. The lush colors and the materiality of the pastels (primarily Schmincke and Sennelier) are very appealing; color becomes both subject and object in these abstract drawings. The pastels, fragile sticks of colored dust, have their own way of behaving, and much of the process involves welcoming in the unexpected and being willing to be out of control. Even if fixed with fixative, the finished pieces are somewhat fragile and will change, however imperceptibly, over time, as particles of color release from the surface. I love that these drawings have a life of their own once I am done with them.

 

Let me know if you would like more information about any of the work…or if you would like to see it in person. You can comment here.

 

Dove V. 2

Dove – soft pastel, 6″ x 6″

 

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Jay – soft pastel, 6″ x 6″

 

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Dove + Crow – soft pastel, 12″ x 21″

 

Clouds

December 15, 2019

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These are a few recent small drawings, oil pastel or oil stick, framed and ready to hang. If you would like to see them in person, the studio will be open this coming Saturday, December 21, 1:00-5:00 and by appointment this week. If you would like more details, leave a comment, and I will get in touch.

Look for more posts through the week!

Landscape

June 3, 2019

Sharing a few landscapes here. All are oil stick on paper. Enjoy!

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Thin Place

 

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Edge of the Day

 

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Half-mown

Crow #1

Crow #1: The Dark of Black

 

Crow #2

Crow #2: Still Point

 

Crow #4

Crow #4: Shimmer

 

Thanks to a few unseasonable days of warmer weather, I was finally able to photograph the rest of the crow series of small soft pastels in natural light. So much dark and black can be tricky to photograph accurately, and how these images appear here depends on my camera, my screen, and your screen. The process of making these drawings was an engaging bit of research on blacks, darks, and the effect of a slight shift in color or value on the light in the piece. To read more about this group of drawings (and see the missing crow), just scroll back a couple of posts. It’s always best to see the work in person!

 

Crow #5

 

Crow # 5: Sheen

 

Crow #6

Crow # 6: A Measure of Light

 

It’s All in the Dust

January 28, 2019

 

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Light and Shadow

 

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Of  the Mountains

 

Soft pastel is pure pigment held together with a little binder. The medium is the color; the color is the medium. What could be more satisfying than laying down a film of pure color and then layering another on top, each veil changing forever what had been put down before. Or that color dust can be rubbed and pressed into the paper with the next color applied on top – rubbed in or not.

 

There is no going back with soft pastel, only change and moving forward. Even if a section is removed, swept off with a stiff brush (like a small broom sweeping up the dust), it is never possible to go back to a clean surface; some of the color remains as a record of what has been and also a ground for and part of what will come.

 

Art making has always offered me a model for life, teaching me useful lessons in an accessible way – a sort of experiential guide book. For a few examples, drawing with soft pastels shows and reminds me: not to lament the parts that are lost, to be open to surprises, to pay attention and respond to what is happening in the drawing, to take joy and delight in the richness resulting from the evolution of the drawing process (which was most surely difficult or painful at times), and on…all easily more than lessons for art making alone.

 

Soft pastel drawings can be strong, rich, and solid and their color even bold, but the dust is fragile and potentially transient. Even a fixed drawing will dust off a bit over time. This is certainly a reminder that I am not in control. And I love the thought that even after I have finished my work, a drawing will continue on to have a life of its own, changing and evolving, however imperceptibly, over time.

 

The difficulty of soft pastel is in the dust, the messy dust that covers studio surfaces, me, and everything I touch when I am working. But that dust is the essence and beauty of the medium. It is what makes it so pure, direct, elemental, and appealing.

 

The drawings in this post came from a need to work larger than the 8” square Crow series as well as a craving to bring in more color while still making room for the mystery and depth that the blacks and darks allow for. The drawings from this group are all around 12” by 21”, and these were the first two.

Flown the Nest

January 21, 2019

It seems right to start the New Year with some updates about the work and images of new work. I am happy to say that a few more of the small pastels based on birds have found new homes including these three:

 

Flicker

Flicker

 

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Chickadee

 

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Indigo Bunting

 

 

There are still a few more perched on the wall, so give a shout if you want to see images or if you are interested in stopping by to see them in person. And check in here soon for a look at the newest work in the studio.