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Archives For soft pastel
I tried to avoid the steady gaze. It seemed like the brown eyes pierced into my very soul, asking questions, surveying my existence. So contemplative, so knowing. I unwittingly mixed in a little introspective therapist into the pastels I applied, and I had to giggle a little when I stood back to survey the finished product. He’s very regal, very convicting, on his leather couch, eliciting introspection as he silently listens.
While drawing this winter, I listened to Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey, a fascinating book in bite-sized pieces detailing the routines and habits of around 160 artists, musicians, writers, and great thinkers. Along the way, as I layered fur and leather, I thought about my own daily habits, my own rituals to entice and encourage my artistic creativity.
I have to say, after listening to over 100 stories of artists’ bad habits – alcoholism, substance abuse, and some really weird rituals – I feel a little bit better about myself. They do take a lot of afternoon naps, though; I wish I could incorporate that into my life. What a lovely habit.
I began to worry, as I have joked in the past, based on the biographies of great artists such as Van Gogh, Degas and the like, that I will never be a very successful artist unless I have more problems, more existential throes, more drama. Luckily, after I finished Daily Rituals, I listened to Elizabeth’s Gilbert’s Big Magic. Speaking on the same subject – these crazy artists literally killing themselves over their creativity, living in the bowels of anxiety and personal torture – she gives a different view:
On these grounds, naturally I am tempted to make the case for drinking myself to death as a creative exercise, but that would be self-destructive.
Creativity resides in making the choices that make you happy, and anyone who tells you otherwise — your inner critic, your outer critics — is fooling you. Originality is out, authenticity is in.
Whew. That’s good news. As I finish up “Bogie” the dog, I relax a bit, look him in the eyes and say “thanks.” We made it out together. He seems relaxed.
One of the main reasons I began using pastels was to loosen up.
In high school and early college, I was the queen of minute detail. I loved teeny tiny brushes and sharp pencils. I had a huge callous on my right middle finger from squeezing the pencil so hard to get every last dot on paper.
I still love detail, as I adjust the picture next to me to the best angle and spell check myself as I type. I’m sure it drives my husband crazy, as I settle in on the couch each night, needing the correct lamps turned on, my blanket just so…the list goes on. I will spare you, even though he is trapped. I attribute this desire for order and quirky detail to my father (hi dad!), who must have his lunch of a sandwich and chips on a paper plate every day, with a Mountain Dew of course.
But I digress. My oldest daughter, to whom (poor thing) I’ve passed much of this down, calls us “noticers.” We notice things. I’m good with that.
But when it comes to art, it can be FRUSTRATING. Especially on a portrait. Sometimes you just have to let go; you have to loosen up. So I grab a big piece of chalk. Still getting good detail, the large pieces keep me from over-detailing, from stressing and focusing on minutiae. It has helped me take the leap from tight drawing to something closer to my favorite style of Impressionism.
Using big pastels is like having a third child.
You have to loosen up, or you won’t survive. It just won’t work. You have to learn and train yourself to go with the flow, to notice the important things and pass over the stressors and tiny dots that just distract. You can more easily see the beauty that stands out, and enjoy it, record it, embrace it.
We have busy minds. We are always in the process of becoming. For better or worse, our thoughts, actions and choices move us forward, or maybe backward, along the line of history and personal quest. I frequently get caught up in the existential throes of being an artist, of trying to be the best person I can be for the time I have on earth.
One morning I was thinking about fear,
how to overcome it, how to lessen the fear around us. I realized that most cruelty, most fear comes from us, from humans. We humans, more than any other species, threaten each other – with hate, with guns, with war, with irresponsibility, with greed and robbery, with anger and disregard for human life. Recently two young boys that I count as nearly my own had a gun pointed at them while they were simply playing near their porch, and this in a safe neighborhood. There was no cause or prompting, just a quick move by a man with unknown motives. It causes fear. Fear that must be overcome daily.
May we live with more peace and regard for each other. May we treat each other with love and loyalty, as members of the human race, members of creation.
In my garden, I witness a microcosm that balances and cooperates to bear fruit. Insects, bacteria, nutrients, soil, water, sun, roots, leaves…it all works together to form food we can eat, beauty we can enjoy. And I get to be a caretaker, to guide and protect the process. May we do the same in our everyday lives, care for each other, guard the process of becoming.
At this point, I hear Mr. Potter from It’s a Wonderful Life, waving dismissively, “Sentimental hogwash!” Maybe I’m laying it on a big too thick. To bring it a few steps down from mushiness, I hope we can be more like our dogs. Our pets love us, even when we act like jerks, when we ignore them or forget to buy dog food. They are loyal and forgiving, and their love is constant. We are the ones who complicate things.
Here are a few furry friends that now have their portraits painted, a testament to their worth and value, and their loyalty to a fickle race.
Sometimes it’s so hard to choose a piece of art for a friend! Or you want to commission a portrait for a family member, but you’re not sure which photo they would like. If you’re stuck, I have an option for you:
Gift Cards for artwork!
Gift cards can be purchased in any amount and are redeemable for commissioned or available pastel paintings of chosen value. From pastel portraits, to ink doodles, to watercolors…so many options available for your friend or family member to choose from!
Gift cards will be written for the amount paid & purchase intention noted (ex: 5×7 framed pastel; 8×10 unframed portrait, etc.). Gift cards will be signed by the artist for authenticity. Those receiving gift cards may upgrade to higher-priced artwork by paying the balance.
A portrait is a wonderful way to create a lasting memory of your pet…any pet! Either in black & white or full color, I so enjoy creating a true-to-life painting to bring out the personality behind the photograph. With each detail captured, from the glint in the eye to the many hues in the fur, these portraits can be valued for generations. I’ve drawn everything from fish and dogs, to cows and chickens, to rabbits and cats.
Pet portraits make wonderful gifts…in order to ensure completion for Christmas, contact me today! firstname.lastname@example.org
Pet Portrait Pricing:
8 x 10″: $175 ink or charcoal, $225 color pastel; add $90 for each additional subject
9 x 12″: $200 ink or charcoal, $260 color pastel; add $100 for each additional subject
11 x 14″: $250 ink or charcoal, $325 color pastel; add $125 for each additional subject
16 x 20″: $400 ink or charcoal, $465 color pastel; add $200 for each additional subject
18 x 24″: $550 ink or charcoal, $625 color pastel; add $275 for each additional subject
24 x 36″: $750 ink or charcoal, $850 color pastel; add $400 for each additional subject
Prices for other subjects and sizes available upon request.
There’s this magical place where the sands are untouched, smooth and white as snow; where the sky stretches on in the vastness of blue, where the sea oats whisper and the ocean rolls, where a river of amber flows shallow and changing into the turquoise sea. If you listen, you only hear the quiet breeze and the gentle splashing of your bare feet as you tread gingerly up the river towards the lake. The dunes are safe from the traffic and trash of humans. The herons watch you approach, and the little fish dart in the skim of water.
This is where we find respite for a week each September. I take the hearty adventurers up the tidal river towards Alligator Lake several times each day, and always in the early morning when the cotton candy clouds hang lazy in the sky. With a net and eager eyes, my son watches for crab. His lithe little body, tanned by the sun, moves with patient energy. He appreciates the stillness of the place, the untouched nature. I’m proud as I watch him wonder.
A few weeks ago I had the pleasure and honor to offer a pastel demonstration at one of the monthly meetings of the Mountain Brook Art Association. Just back from the most recent beach trip, I chose a picture of my son in the beach river, green net in hand, looking up at the beautiful sky with his little feet in the damp sand.
At the demonstration, I was able to share some of my favorite materials and techniques. Below is a list of some earlier blog posts about my favorite materials:
Sennelier Soft Pastels:
Papers & Boards:
Time for a Summer Art Sale!
The pieces below are marked down for the next 2 weeks only, July 31-August 14.
Pastels, ink doodles, framed, unframed…there are lots of options. Some of them are my favorites, and they would love to find a home on a wall near you!
Contact me today to purchase your favorite! email@example.com
Art is available for immediate pick up or shipping (shipping costs apply). Cash, check and credit card accepted.
Click on the image to see the full view
Speaking of kids…
I recently had the pleasure to create a large 24×36″ pastel portrait of a trio of super cute kids from a neighboring state. I love being able to give a family a portrait that captures who they are at that moment in time, knowing it will last and bring them memories and joy as the kids grow up. Sending a big thanks to my sweet client, and wishing them all so well!