Q: Your relationship with photography has changed considerably over the years. How did you make use of photography in your first series of pastel-on-sandpaper paintings, “Domestic Threats”?

"Truth Betrayed by Innocence," 2001, 58" x 38", the last pastel painting for which Bryan photographed my setup

“Truth Betrayed by Innocence,” 2001, 58″ x 38″,  the last pastel painting for which Bryan photographed the setup

A:  When my husband, Bryan, was alive I barely picked up a camera, except to photograph sights encountered during our travels. Throughout the 1990s and beyond (ending in 2007), I worked on my series of pastel-on-sandpaper paintings called, “Domestic Threats.”  These were realistic depictions of elaborate scenes that I staged in our 1932 Sears house in Alexandria, Virginia, and later, in a New York sixth floor walk-up apartment, using the Mexican masks, carved wooden animals, and other folk art figures that I found on our trips to Mexico. I staged and lit these setups, while Bryan photographed them using his Toyo-Omega 4 x 5 view camera.  We had been collaborating this way almost from the beginning (we met on February 21, 1986).  Having been introduced to photography by his father at the age of 6, Bryan was a terrific amateur photographer. He would shoot two pieces of 4 x 5 film at different exposures and I would select one, generally the one that showed the most detail in the shadows, to make into a 20 x 24 photograph. The photograph would be my starting point for making the pastel painting. Although I work from life, too, I could not make a painting without mostly looking at a reference photo.  After Bryan was killed on 9/11, I had no choice but to study photography.  Over time, I turned myself into a skilled photographer.

Comments are welcome!

About barbararachkoscoloreddust

Barbara’s thoughts on art, the creative process, soft pastel, the inspiration she finds in travel, what it’s like to be an artist in New York, and other wisdom for artists as we travel our solitary and sometimes lonely roads.

Posted on February 16, 2013, in 2013, An Artist's Life, Creative Process, Domestic Threats, Inspiration, Mexico, New York, NY, Pastel Painting, Photography, Travel, Working methods and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Barbara, do you know of any way that I could get into the National Academy School of Fine Arts: 1083 Fifth Avenue, NY or 5 East 89th Street NY? Do you think sending them the usual CV plus photos & class lectures, etcetera, would make a dent? I tried this a few years ago to no avail. I’m probably more valuable now but , in all likelihood, they’ve got the same sort of guardians securing their spaces. Any ideas? I need NY and I desparately need to use my talents properly. Might I send you a little ‘portfolio’ to see what your thinking is?

    • Carol, I have no connections with the National Academy. In what capacity are you trying to get in? As a teacher, as a student, as an exhibiting artist? Regardless, in my experience sending images in the mail or email is pointless. You need to start hanging out there and meeting people. I realize you are in Virginia, but that’s the reality. Everything happens by personal connections. Re: galleries, I have become disillusioned with them – in New York and elsewhere – and am trying to work without them. I have hired a social media marketing person and become much more active online. So I am probably not the person to ask about galleries. I CAN, however, offer you social media help, if you’re interested in continuing this conversation at brachko@erols.com.

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