I continue to be impressed at the versatility of pastel. Using this medium, I can both draw and paint. Marks are both painterly and lively or grounded and static. Depending on the tool used (Sofft tools, my fingers or the stick of color itself) I can employ and unleash a diverse visual lexicon. This work is on Ampersand Pastel-board (8x10 inches). The surface is gritty, which lends itself to layering. Rubbing the surface with a finger does not easily move the pastel, which is good because it makes the surface more forgiving, and accidental movements on the surface don't accidentally blur areas. One has to be very intentional and smudge an area repeatedly to blend color, unless Sofft tools are used, which tend to grab and move the color quickly.
A few things I like about Ampersand's board are, its rigidity and the firmness with which the surface grit is held to the support. The board itself is 1/8th inch thick, which means it will not buckle, curl or otherwise move. I just have to worry about holding it down, it keeps itself flat. The abrasive surface is very nice to work on as well. The textured particles on the surface do not come loose from the board, unlike something like Sennelier's la Carte Card (which has its own advantages). This means that if I wanted to I could erase areas aggressively and not damage the substrate. It would then be very easy to paint again in the cleaned off area. With each new painting I see the importance of being open to all kinds of mark making, facilitated by tools or not. There is no formula for painting a picture.
J0hn Hunter Speier
Recent work, and explorations of techniques, aesthetics and poetics.