Category Archives: Pastel Painting

First pastel paintings (after my hiatus)

I actually wrote the blog intro section a few weeks ago, but didn’t post it until, um, I knew what I was doing with respect to the whole “blogging” thing.

So now I was cranked to see my easel all set up. Realizing I hadn’t used my pastels for several years, my first concern was, do they go bad? Dry out? Change color? That would have been a bit of a downer because they can be expensive – you don’t just buy a few for the basic colors and mix up all your own colors, as with oils. Well, for those of you wondering, the answer is “No,” they have great longevity. Yay!

My initial plan was to do a lot of fairly fast pastels – an hour or so each. I thought I could get looser, rapidly develop my style further. I’d wind up with a lot of paintings I wasn’t wedded to, but that would be okay. It was all about energy and diving in.

Went and bought a whole bunch of some not-so-expensive pastel paper, medium tooth, miscellaneous colors; chopped it into quarters. Chose some reference photos (hey, it was winter–I’m not standing outside developing frost-bitten fingers and toes!).

It’s been quite a few days now and I have to confess, I cannot stop after an hour. That’s when it’s getting interesting! That’s when I’m trying to make a painting work! It’s like, “Do a crossword puzzle and stop after an hour no matter what.” (I’m assuming you’re not a whiz and an hour just gets the easy words done.) They’re still smallish (say, 10″x12″) and quickish, but if I like the way one’s going, I’m not stoppin’! (Made for some very late nights.) 

Nuts. Now I actually like some of the results. Really, I can’t frame them all. 

BUT, lucky thing, I have a perfect place to display them – my brand new blog!

Grand Canyon, AZ

Grand Canyon, AZ

The genesis of a new project (or two)

It all started with my going to an exhibition of new paintings by a favorite artist of mine, Desmond O’Hagan. Mostly oils with a few pastels.

Many years ago it was a pastel painting by O’Hagan that so first grabbed my interest I wound up buying it (my first piece of “real” art!). I remember thinking that one day I’d like to try my hand at pastels – the colors were so vibrant, the texture so interesting, and besides, you never had to wait for paint to dry before painting over it. Satisfied my need for instant gratification.

Nearly a decade later I did just that – started painting in pastels. Did quite a few; sold some; got one in a magazine (The Pastel Journal); took some classes and workshops, even one with O’Hagan (lots of fun!). But I didn’t know how to “sell” myself – so I didn’t. Various work ventures started intruding on my time and various appliances in my kitchen (where I was painting) squeezed my space until the easel just stayed folded. For several years.

So at O’Hagan’s recent exhibition, we spoke; he asked what I’m painting. “Um,” I answered. He invited me to join his next workshop – to jumpstart myself back into painting? I was tempted. I miss it. But there’s still no room in my kitchen.

I met another couple of artists there, friends of O’Hagan, one a pastelist and the other a watercolorist and the owner of a small art gallery that features no oils, just watercolors and pastels, plus pottery and other 3-dimensional works of art.

She said her own work is more whimsical than most watercolors, and she’s right! I love it. I told her of a pastelist, Carole Katchen, who does whimsical paintings and she was interested. I promised to stop by to see her gallery and show her Katchen’s book. I did so and we had a great visit.

So each day, I was thinking more about painting again.

But there’s still no room in my kitchen.

Oh. Well. A possible solution? Half of my rec room is my office. The other half was filled with cartons of old papers relating to nothing, items that “interested” me once, old business ventures, or relating to my current business but that I haven’t filed and other materials I use for trade shows and so on. Typically me-clutter. I figured that I could actually put some of the items where they belong (what a concept!) and haul the “stuff” cartons upstairs for sorting and basic de-cluttering. That would free up tons of space!

Several hours later, I had my easel, my art gear, and a couple of items of furniture I use to hold it all downstairs, and the cartons upstairs on a temporary fold-out table, yes, in my kitchen.

Whew. So now I have two “projects” added to my life (in addition to work). One is doing a bunch of fast paintings (several a week?) to get back into it. And the other is inevitable – sorting and decluttering. I’ve started to do some of both. This blog is testimony to my progress.

So far I’ve filled one paper-recycling container with “stuff.” It’s hard! My favorite item was the article on “How to manage clutter.” Apparently it didn’t take.

(By the way, this new project prompted my sister Sally – who lives in an RV with her husband – to send me to a 20-minute video called The Story of Stuff. Eye-opening, to say the least.)

I’ll keep you posted!