Thoughts on Painting/Drawing

Things proceed in the normal way here in the back-of-beyond. Planning has begun for the Christmas art show at the Rio Grande County Museum. I don’t have much new work, but I’ll be there. Normally I’d be aghast at such precipitous planning — it’s August, for the love of God! — but not this year. I understand completely the need my friend Louise feels to anchor herself in the future. I’ll also be doing a reading from one of my books — I’m probably going to read from Finding Refuge, and I expect to read the chapter that relates the moment the Refuge invited me to spend Christmas there (which I did).

On the famous artist front there’s not much going on. I don’t feel much attraction to the pastels, in fact, I feel no attraction to them. The book I bought from which I could learn technique is full of images and instruction, but pretty de-inspiring. It’s going in the “books I don’t want to see again as long as I live” box. The two artists whose use of pastels most impress me are Degas and Lautrec –> Featured photo, Rider on a White Horse. Their work has little in common with what I find in my instruction book AND it has the magic of dry media — spontaneous motion.

I know what it would take would be some hours in the studio playing around with them and attempting the kinds of images that belong to me. πŸ™‚

A very silly thing that bothers me is that drawing with pastels is now called “painting.” I shouldn’t be flummoxed by this because I draw/paint with watercolor pencils all the time and have no problem calling them “paintings” (as long as water is involved) but calling a pastel drawing a painting makes my teeth itch. Drawing is as wonderful as painting. I guess in my mind painting involves all the magic and challenge of a wet medium. Pastel? Blending pastels isn’t the same to me at all. It feels different. The results are different. Psychologically — for me — it’s different. BUT… I don’t know. The words and theories involved in art can be very alienating. There is a point, though, when a pastel drawing LOOKS like a painting. I looked this up on the sainted Internet and found this very satisfying answer:

So how do you define pastel artwork? Is it drawing or painting? It is a perplexing question. My observation is that if we stick to the dictionary definition, pastel is a drawing medium. It is pigment in a dry stick form. But, when placed in the hands of an artist who applies it with the intent of creating an image that communicates to the observer with the symbolic use of shape, edge, value, and color, it can be considered a painting medium. While the definition debate will inevitably continue, for most of us it is of little concern. What matters is if the artwork has successfully communicated our intent and we enjoy the medium. As an artist friend once said, ‘I let others label what my artwork is, as long as they see it as beautiful’.” Drawing or Painting with Pastel: Which Is It?

7 thoughts on “Thoughts on Painting/Drawing

  1. We had a pastels workshop in our art group. We used very rough ‘toothed’ paper to draw on. It’s like drawing on sand paper. You can build up layers but not use fixative spray as it washes it off. Deep frames and a gap between the paper and mounting board? Is a good idea as it allows pastel dust to fall on the gap between the two.. M

    • I’m not sure at all this is for me. I did a lot of pastel drawing back in the late 70s/early 80s. I looked at photos of those images and I remember that they felt unsatisfying then. BUT I think the book I got is part of my problem. It literally tries to teach the reader to draw (paint?) “THIS” picture step by step. Maybe that’s good, but I found it totally repellant. 😦 Maybe I’m just in a bad mood…

    • I like drawing with them and I’m happy to use fixative on them, but seriously. That book I got was the most de-inspiring thing and weird to learn there is a philosophical opposition to “fixing” pastels so they don’t go all over the place. Maybe it’s not the pastels themselves. πŸ™‚

        • I’m unlikely ever to get another art instruction book, that’s for sure. It appears that not using fixative is kind of a moral principle which is bizarre because an oil painting or an acrylic painting — even a watercolor! — is unlikely to go anywhere but you varnish the acrylic or oil to protect it. I might try again after I shake that book from my consciousness πŸ˜€

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