Q: How do you decide how much realism and how much imagination to put into a pastel painting?

Models, reference photograph, and pastel painting in progress

Models, reference photograph, and pastel painting in progress

A:  I wouldn’t say “decide” is the right word because creating a painting is not strictly the result of conscious decisions.  I think of my reference photograph, my preliminary sketch, and the actual folk art objects I depict as starting points.  Over the months that it takes to make a pastel painting, the resulting interpretive development pushes the painting far beyond this source material.  When all goes well, the original material disappears and characters that belong to the painting and nowhere else emerge.  

It is a mysterious process that I am still struggling to understand.  This is the best way I can describe what it feels like from the inside, as the maker.  

Comments are welcome!  

About barbararachkoscoloreddust

Barbara’s thoughts on art and 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 lonely roads.

Posted on September 5, 2015, in An Artist's Life, Art Works in Progress, Black Paintings, Creative Process, Pastel Painting, Photography, Studio, Working methods and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Exactly! Well said. The painting takes over and becomes the “other” in the dialogue between the artist and the work. We have the same sort of experience as an orchestra and conductor have when presenting music by a composer! Each time the music is different because of the participants involved, even though the composer’s notes are captured and frozen on the score. Thrilling.

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