The painting on the far right with the green mat was an initial study to see if this was something I could get into…A trial run…I loved working on it. The other four I worked on each morning for about a half an hour at a time on each painting, until they were completed. A larger and smaller version of the entire still life, and two details were then completed. Three of these sold and I am currently hoarding the fourth one…bottom left, which won several prizes.
What made you choose pastels as a medium?
I love the versatility of pastel: it is water soluble, works with alcohol, turpentine, turpenoid, and can be combined with other mediums, watercolor, oils, charcoal and more.
How has your practice changed over time?
The newer papers allow for endless experimentation. I remember using just paper for pastel…charcoal paper, tinted and white, Canson paper. The limits of what one could do on those papers was frustrating.
What is the best art related advice you’ve been given?
Some of the best advice an artist can get is from other artists. My drawing instructor told us that there were no short cuts…no technique to draw a tree…good observation is better that a ‘one size fits all' technique. It never gets easy to paint because we keep wanting to say more and be more. If it feels too easy we may be backtracking.
What do you wish you’d have known from the beginning, but took years to learn?
My pastel world really opened up in the first CPPS Workshop I attended…the one with Maggie Price…she introduced us to Wallis paper, various underpainting techniques, her wonderful Basic Values Set of Terry Ludwig’s pastels, and she encouraged us to enter pastel shows.
The new papers and pastels changed everything and opened up a world of possibilities. CPPS also helped by providing more workshops and then fantastic annual visits from Mike and The Fine Art Store from Rochester, NY., with the truck load of art supplies. I like a wide range of subjects…this comes from my days as a freelancer when I needed to work on projects of my clients. Still life’s are great learning tools, portraits a challenge, I enjoy architecture, landscapes, animals ,sometimes some found subjects that I happen to stumble upon.
Where do you find inspiration?
I like to work on a variety of projects at the same time, rotating among them. I set a timer and work for perhaps a half hour or an hour…I then stop and move to something else. This helps me because after a certain amount of time, my attention, objectivity and seriousness gets a little thin…I need some time away to be at my best. If I am struggling with a piece, I will think of another artist who worked on a similar subject. Spending some time looking at that artist’s work can help me, it is almost like having them in the same room with you. I am also very much inspired by other artists and I continuously like to study them and enjoy their work.
When is your favorite time of day to create?
I work at my studio from about 10:30am to about 4:30 four days a week, two other days in our family business. But I am often thinking about my projects when I am not working on them.
How do you develop your art skills?
I develop my skills by realizing there are no short cuts. I need to thoroughly understand what I am doing…sometimes I need to figure out the solution to a problem area in a painting…I may need more information, I may need to tinker with perspective, eclipses can drive me crazy…I may need to make myself a template or two.
I have found that one of the best ways for me to solve a problem is to go deeper.
Often, when I find a painting that Is difficult…like every normal person…I want to get it over with! However, “getting it over with” is not the best motivation. I have found that if I “Give myself a workshop on it!,” that is by far the better, and usually shorter, solution to a problem. Several years ago, I had a portrait that had to be painted, I had several photos to work from, the photos looked like two different people, and I had to reconcile my portrait with these two different looks.
I started a series of portraits trying to reconcile the two images. The saturation of studying the images made it possible for me to find the likeness and combine it in one of the drawings. All of the portraits are of the same person, the one on the far left was the best combination.
There are two reference photos used here that are not my subject…they show just a smiling face…upper left corner of the blue and dark brown photos…this small photo was from an Ulta Makeup ad…the lip detail was most helpful. When I am working on a piece, I try to reach my goal…sometimes I have to remove it from my studio to successfully stop myself from overworking it. Sometimes it make take me several weeks to appreciate it.
How do you define success as an artist?
I especially enjoy when someone else really understands what I was trying to do.
One of my favorite current methods is to begin a pastel with a watercolor underpainting. (see below)