Digging Deeper

Two years ago I was a demonstrator at IAPS. It was amazing; fun and challenging. There were lots of ...
Pastel New Paper

Two years ago I was a demonstrator at IAPS. It was amazing; fun and challenging. There were lots of standout moments. Watching the paint around, doing my demonstrations, meeting with fellow instructors and students, to name just a few. IAPS is without a doubt the signature event for  pastelists.

I decided to take a break from IAPS this year, having presented for four events in a row, I felt it was time for some up and coming artists to have a chance to shine. I am grateful that I’ve had my opportunity to be on center stage at such a prestigious event. I’ll miss seeing everyone and will definitely plan on attending and presenting( if I’m chosen again), in 2021. So IAPS is on my mind!

But what impulsed me to write this morning was a moment from IAPS 2017 that has stuck with me…I was in the wrap u p meeting for instructors, sitting around a patio table with Liz Haywood Sullivan, Richard McKinley, Tony Alain, Desmond O’Hagan…you get the picture. Richard has always been a generous and gracious college so I’ve learned to pay attention to him. We were talking about our presentations and some artists were mentioning that they’d completed several pieces in the time allotted and still had extra time. Richard commented that we should dig deeper.

At the time, I sort of reacted negatively to this. Thinking that not all the artists work in the same way or with the same intention. One month earlier I had been at the Plein Air Convention in San diego and what had stuck with me from that event was something an audience member had shouted out during one of Eric Roades presentations about selling art. This artist shouted from the peanut gallery , “Paint better paintings”, in a snarky response to Eric’s question about how to go about selling more. Both Richard’s comment and this anonymous guys unsolicited shout, stuck with me. At first not in a good way. I was offending a bit by both comments; creating to my own concepts and perceptions of myself as a painter.

I’ve been focused on creating online lessons and all that that entails. Lots and lots of computer time, learning about cameras and lighting, writing curriculum and trying to make sense of megabytes and gigabytes. I’ve had to learn how to be a better business person and hire the right people that understand my mission and orientation to my work. All of this has been a wonderful and rich challenge which I completely welcome. But the core of my business is making art and not just making art, but mastering a medium and creating art that forces me to grow.

I’ve spent my whole adult life in this pursuit, but realize there are plateaus that we reach. It’s important to analyze and consider how to push past these if we are to keep moving. To that end, I started working from some photos that I took when teaching in Colorado. It was a very memorable workshop. Everyone was so enthusiastic and  excited to be painting. The first day we painted plein air at an incredible location in Parker, CO. After many, many months, I’m finally getting around to digging into this group of reference photos. When I started, I found myself somehow interested in more texture than I’ve been getting with Pastelmat and decided to grab a piece of Uart that I had in my drawer. I did an fluid acrylic underpainting on the first one and liked how the texture was building. It’s a whole different world from Pastelmat.

Outside with Umbrella

Detail, but not really detail. I’m digging into a new paper but accordingly new opportunities for different kinds of marks.

Pastel New Paper
Pastel Painting Deep Dig

So back to digging in. As I mentioned much of my time these days is developing, filming and producing online lessons. Yes, I do sell these, but for me it’s more than that. It’s a passion of mine to share my journey as an artist. I know how fortunate I am to spend my time in the pursuit of beauty. It’s my day job! If I can help you, wherever you may be on the path of that same pursuit, that’s a victory for both of us!

This year I’ve been working hard, and I mean tons of hours on a new monthly series of lessons that I’ve prepared and have ready to go for my students. We’re trying to get everything perfect on the website, so students will have a great experience learning online.  I’ve tried to put together everything I know about painting; tackling the hard stuff, like starting, finishing, what to do about foregrounds, how to include structures and really anything that I struggle with or get lots of questions about. I want my online lessons to be the best pastel lessons out there. I want everyone to get more than they expected and feel supported as an artist. That’s how I’m digging into teaching.

Digging into both painting and teaching. It feels like a lot and it is. So?

Happy Painting,


5 Responses

  1. It sounds like you did some really deep thinking about what you needed to do and it began with that guy’s comment.

  2. The work you’ve displayed with this post made me catch my breath. There’s something different – a deeper richness, more texture. There was more energy. A slightly different palette? Maybe it’s the Uart and the underpainting. Beautiful!

  3. I love your pastel paintings so much. They are so alive, almost breathing. I can’t wait for monthly classes. There is so much to learn as a beginning pastelist and so much joy in watching you create your impressions of what you see, so very magical. Thank you for starting me on this journey. (((Hugs)))

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