12 January 2013

Pastels Redux

So many times I've tried to work with pastels, and so many times I have given up in frustration, moving back to oils or acrylics.  Just could never seem to get a handle on this medium.

And yet over the years I have admired so many pastel artists' works; I even subscribe to Pastel Magazine.  Then, this morning while having my first 400 cups of coffee, I read through the latest issue that just arrived yesterday.  I was bowled over once again by the beauty, the softness, the fine nuances of the colors. 

So while taking a morning walk, I mentally charged myself to go back to the drawing board, literally.  This time I would not dawdle with accuracy; I would aim for swiftness and mass, huge chunks of colors on a watercolor background, working into the wetness for that lovely smudged aspect.

Who are my favorite pastel artists?  First and foremost, Wolf Kahn.  I have several of his books and review them frequently.
Swift Skies, 6" x 9"
Other pastel artists I have been following over the years is Casey Klahn, Marla Baggetta, Deborah Stewart and Carolyn Caldwell.  I think Bagetta's influence is quite obvious on this piece below.  She has several vidoes on YouTube, which truly inspire yet also put you at ease in her laid back attitude toward making art.

Morning in January, 5" x 7"

I found that today, after several hours of working quickly, that I liked working on 150 lbs. heavy bristol paper by Canson, usually used for comic and manga drawing. It held up well under the watercolor and multiple applications of the pastels. 

High Summer, 8" x 10"

As I moved, I found myself becoming braver about using my fingers and the sides of my hand to smooth and smudge. Pastels are quite forgiving and change is possible without losing momentum. 
Early Autumn on the River, 5" x 7"

How do I feel after today's attempts? Not too shabby! I think I may have finally moved to another stage in my development using pastels. They are immediate; they are forgiving and they are certainly easy to transport for quick sketches, etc. 

I think I will continue to pursue pastels, especially during these dreary months of winter. To have this array of lush colors before me is the best tonic.  

I don't think I have enough, though.  Guess I better take a trip to the art store, don't you?


Casey Klahn said...

What a wonderful surprise to see my name on an esteemed list. Thank you.

I think you are onto something with these new works, and I can feel the warmth of movement and the spark of creativity in them.

One thing I tell my workshop artists is that "this place is now a 'no technique zone.'" Just paint (pastel) your ideas, and the refinement will come with time.

Kelly M. said...

Many thanks, Casey, for your visit -- and yes, I do consider your works quite marvelous! I will keep up with my efforts, promise!