art, Blog

Pastel Painting – A New Venture

Today I ventured out with my friend Lisa to take an art class. The class was a still life class using pastels. It was a stretch for me, but the idea of doing art and spending the day with a friend made the risk worthwhile. We started out having coffee together and just catching up which was a great way to start the day.

Why do we consider something new a risk? Perhaps it is simply the act of being seen. Or perhaps it is fear of judgement from either ourselves or others. It is such an important part of our humanity and mankind has been expressing themselves through art from the beginning.

We were asked to bring meaningful objects to use in composing our still life. I choose a cobalt blue glass pitcher given to me by my mother-in-law shortly before she passed away, a heart-shaped locket given to me by my niece to commemorate my sister’s life and a simple wool scarf given to me by my husband.

The conditions were not ideal. Too many light sources from multiple overhead lights and reflections from other still life setups around the room. It is problematic to have multiple sources of light because it makes it more challenging to determine highlights and shadows. We were all in the same boat. I also think only one person had ever used pastels before today — at least not in recent times.

Quick thumbnail sketches were done to determine composition. Those first strokes on paper are encumbered by our inner critic and the awkwardness of the fine motor skills necessary to complete the task at hand. Once the first few strokes are behind you, it is easier to move forward.

By lunch time, one student had already given up and left the class. We were all feeling a bit frustrated, but learning something new expands us. Art speaks things we cannot articulate.

Lisa and I ate our packed lunch out in the sunshine. It was a gorgeous day and the conversation was wonderful. What a lovely break!

After lunch, we started doing more layering with a softer pastel. This is when your objects start to come to life. I did not finish my piece, but that is okay. I consider it a study and perhaps I will buy some pastels and finish it. I learned so much and it was so nice to be creating something surrounded by like-minded people.

I took some photos. The piece needs more intense colors, but I am happy with what I managed to accomplish with this new medium. I am glad I stuck it out.