A: For some time I have been making pastel paintings in two sizes: 20″ x 26″ and 38″ x 58″. Sizes are dictated by practical considerations.
The smaller ones are because 22″ x 28″ sheets of acid-free sandpaper are what’s available. (I mask off an inch all around for mats so the paintings are 20″ x 26″). For large paintings I buy rolls of acid-free sandpaper that measure 54 inches wide by 30 feet. I cut this down to 40″ x 60″ for paintings (and mask off an inch all around on these, too).
And why specifically make them 38″ x 58″? This is the largest size I can make.
Again, practical factors come into play: the size of my truck, the cost and size of mat board, and the weight of the frames.
My pastel paintings need to lie flat when they are moved. Framed paintings are 50″ x 70,” the largest size that can fit flat in the back of my Ford F-150. 38″ x 58″ is the largest size that will fit in a 4 feet by 8 feet sheet of mat board. (60 inch wide mat board is available, but the cost goes up considerably). Lastly, I’ve never weighed them but my large framed paintings are heavy. It takes two people to carry them.
Comments are welcome!
A: Like everything else associated with my studio practice, my use of photographs from which to work has changed considerably. Beginning in the early 1990s all of the paintings in my first series, “Domestic Threats,” started out as elaborately staged, well-lit scenes that either my husband, Bryan, or I photographed with Bryan’s Toyo Omega 4 x 5 view camera using a wide-angle lens. Depending on where I was living at the time, I set up the scenes in one of three places: our house in Alexandria, VA, a six-floor walkup apartment on West 13th Street in New York, or my current Bank Street condominium. Then one of us shot two pieces of 4 x 5 film at different exposures and I’d usually select the more detailed one to be made into a 20″ x 24″ photo to use as a reference.
Just as the imagery in my paintings has simplified and emptied out over the years, my creative process has simplified, too. I often wonder if this is a natural progression that happens as an artist gets older. More recently I have been shooting photos independently of how exactly I will use them in my work. Only later do I decide which ones to make into paintings; sometimes it’s YEARS later. For example, the pastel painting that is on my easel now is based on a relatively old (2002) photograph that I have always liked, but only now felt ready to tackle in pastel.
Comments are welcome!