What made you choose pastels as a medium?
When I was a very young child my parents gave me a set of Grumbacher pastels as a gift along with a Walter Foster book on painting in pastels. Occasionally my Grandfather, Edward S. Black, who was an artist in Baltimore and who drew the designs for the Inner Harbor among various other sites, also worked with pastels. I have inherited his art supplies along with a small box of his pastels. I loved lots of mediums but really found the colors and tactile nature of pastels very appealing.
How long have you been using pastels?
I’ve been using pastels since childhood - I was probably less than 10 years of age. I also enjoyed pen and ink, charcoal, watercolor and oils. Pencil drawing is still a favorite - I love black and white drawings. I have a book of pencil drawings by Andrew Wyeth which is still a favorite - I lived in Chester County - where his family lived. I also traced drawings from the Andrew Loomis drawing book that was my Grandfathers!
What are your favorite subjects to paint?
I love painting the landscape and occasional Still Life. I’ve always hiked and also have flyfished for the last thirty years which has taken me to places most people don’t see. Some of these places I paint. I also really enjoy the subtle features of the land - the undulations of the land atop a mountaintop for instance and the features of the forest. The last dozen years I’ve been painting the high craggy cliffs and pounding surf on Monhegan Island, Maine. This has challenged me since it is so different than our local landscape - in color and just the majesty of these features. It touches my very core and I feel I do some of my best work there, perhaps because I have uninterrupted time to really assimilate the area and paint uninterrupted. Now I feel an understanding of this area and it’s become a part of me.
How has your practice changed over time?
My practice is constantly changing. Some years I have more time than others to paint as I have a large family and all the responsibilities of hosting holidays, being a loving Wife, Mom and Grandma and a daily advocate for my Mother. I really have to carve out painting time to keep an active art practice.
What is the best art related advice you’ve been given?
I’ve had good painting advice from several Master Pastel Painters: Maggie Price, Richard McKinley and Judy Carducci. Maggie told me to paint lots of paintings within a 30 minute time frame. She also said to enter National Pastel Shows. This would show you how you stack up among other fine artists and also build up your resume, which is important for recognition from some of the Societies. Richard told me not to give up on trying to enter and be accepted into National shows. He told me I was close and to give the jurors something different in subject matter, not the large flower or child on the beach paintings, but something they don’t usually see. He also said mark making was important and that our local scenery is really beautiful and to become the best I could be at painting it if that’s what I enjoyed painting! Judy would say to paint what you love to paint! She critiqued many of my pieces and was very honest about what she liked and how I could think about improving others. Critiques are very important in artistic growth.
What do you wish you’d have known from the beginning, but took years to learn?
In the beginning of my art practice, I thought you somehow arrived at painting well. Now I understand that painting is a life long exciting journey and you’re free to experiment and grow in whatever direction your muse takes you!
Where do you find inspiration?
I find inspiration directly from the land and water itself in various locations I visit. I also learn a lot by studying paintings in person at Exhibitions and Museums. Various art magazines such as American Art Review, Plein Air Magazine, Art of the West, and the Pastel Journal provide me with visual inspiration. I also enjoy looking at DVD’s and artists‘ websites whom I admire.
When is your favorite time of day to create?
My favorite time of day to paint is anytime I can pack up and go! Light and atmosphere at all times of the day, morning, afternoon or evening is challenging and a learning experience, even when we don’t consider the painting a success!
How do you develop your art skills?
I try and develop my art skills by trying something different such as preparing a different substrate like using a pumice covered board instead of paper, or using a different underpainting technique, changing out my color palette or developing a more thoughtful and simple approach to composition. Reading and research is important to me to develop as an artist both mentally and practically as a painter.
How do you define success as an artist?
Success has many facets to me: carving out time for my art practice is a simple success, selling a painting and having it appreciated is a heartfelt success, and knowing there is so much more to learn and to develop and grow as an artist keeps me feeling hopeful and happy!