Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Doing Laps and reflections

Doing Laps, pastel, 9.5 x 6
Who wants to go someplace sunny? I do! This painting is from a photo reference of a trip to Florida last year visiting my husband's family. Being an artist is a lot like swimming laps. You get up, get ready, go do it. Round and round you go. Some days it's a lot of work and you struggle for every stroke, every kick. Other days you get in the zone and the time passes quickly. Every day you get stronger, though. The main thing is to get into the pool.

2011 creative accomplishments: Launched this blog; joined Daily Paintworks; attended Dawn Emerson and Casey Klahn pastel workshops; participated in exhibits at White House on the Gorge and Portland's Cathedral Park Place; finished a few paintings; sold a few paintings; attended several meetings of the Portland Plein Air and Studio Painters and the Cathedral Park Place artists' group; painted and organized my studio; designed and sold fairy gardens; worked on "nuts and bolts" aspects of my art business;  and most importantly, found inspiration, encouragement and valuable information by reading countless blog posts by other artists,  making several new friends along the way.

"Columbia Gorge Vista" included in plein air exhibit

"Columbia Gorge Vista", pastel, 7x5
I recently participated in a show of plein air paintings at Cathedral Park Place in North Portland's St. Johns neighborhood. Oil painter Celeste Bergin posted a video of the event on her blog. A couple stopped in front of my "Columbia Gorge Vista" painting and excitedly told me they recognized the scene because they've hiked there many times. I was pleased that my painting stimulated happy memories for them shared my own joy in painting "en plein air" (outside in nature), especially on the Columbia Gorge. Although plein air painting is very popular these days it was revolutionary in the late 1880s when the Impressionists "invented" it. 

I was the only pastelist in the show (other works were in oil, watercolor or acrylic.) This gave me an opportunity to share information about pastels, a frequently misunderstood medium. Because pastels are hard and often cylindrical in shape, people sometimes think they are chalk but they aren't and don't contain chalk (limestone). Pastels are made of pure pigment held together with a gum or other resin binder and formed into round or square sticks. All colored art media contains pigment--it's the nature of the binder that creates the specific "kind" of paint (oil paint pigment is held together with linseed oil, for example).  Pastels are a dry medium applied by hand to a ground (paper or other surface). The artist can moisten the pastel, blend it or smudge it, and I have a friend who's currently experimenting with applying encaustic wax on top of pastel! The Pastel Society of America calls it "the most permanent of all media when applied to a permanent ground and properly framed. There is no oil to cause darkening or cracking, nor other substance or medium to cause fading or blistering. Pastels from the 16th Century exist today, as fresh and alive as the day they were painted!"