Parting with an artwork is difficult. I end up wanting to keep most of the work I create, and the pastel to the left was no exception. I then heard of an event going on in New York City, and I thought, what a great way to share my work with others (click here for more details). So I sent the landscape and two other small works to the International Arts Movement offices.
Giving away art is bitter-sweet. I know the painting has the potential to bring someone else enjoyment, while simultaneously creating in me a longing for the enjoyment I had in the first place. Repainting this scene (pictured at the top) was a chance for me to be reminded that I can rekindle the first experience and even build on and improve it whenever I want, if I'm willing to work it out again. I was initially only able to see the giving of the art, not the practice I was getting in preparation for the larger version. Creating a work of art doesn't result in the mere out-pour of a visual composition. In the careful act of study, during the process of painting, I find myself accumulating experiences and an understanding of relationships not previously had.
Working larger paid off again (as though I should be surprised). I found myself being less precious with the pastel than with the first, smaller version of this scene (Montana, near Glacier National Park). This was due in part to the use of Sofft Tools, which sped-up the work and gave more painterly expressiveness to my marks. I found that using the right tools let me communicate the unique visual texture presented by different materials. The water vapor of clouds could be shown to posses a gently faceted, round softness, while the blues of the sky maintain a more fluid continuity and eased transitions from areas of differing intensity and hue. I returned to the side of the pastel stick to delineate the edges and cleaved faces of the rock and mountains. The ability to manipulate and control pigments on a surface with my fingers or other tools really lent itself to reproducing the manifold native textures that populate a landscape.
Given the size of the second version, I painted on Ampersand Pastel Board, which has a texture slightly more pronounced than Pastelmat (both surfaces were mentioned and evaluated in my previous 2 posts), with the additional rigidity of a 1/8 inch hardboard. This will allow me different framing options and dimensional stability, despite moisture changes, not available on thinner cards. I plan on framing the large version in a sort of shallow shadow box, with no mat.
Pastel continues to be the most satisfying medium I've worked with as a painter.
J0hn Hunter Speier
Recent work, and explorations of techniques, aesthetics and poetics.