Pearls from artists* # 559
“Sacrificial” soft pastel on sandpaper, 58” x 38” image, 70” x 50” framed
*an ongoing series of quotations – mostly from artists, to artists – that offers wisdom, inspiration, and advice for the sometimes lonely road we are on.
There are two images the spectator gets from every work of art: one while looking at the work, the other – the after-image – while remembering the work… the artist creates the after-image, the painter makes the painting.
Elaine de Kooning quoted in Ninth Street Women by Mary Gabriel
Comments are welcome!
Q: Do you have a home studio or do you go to an outside studio to work? Which do you prefer and why?
A: I have always preferred a separate studio. Pastel creates a lot of dust, it’s toxic to breathe, plus I do not want to live with the mess! I need a place to go in the mornings, someplace where I can focus and work without any distractions. It’s difficult to do that at home.
From the beginning of my time as an artist, in the mid-1980’s, I had a studio. My first one was in the spare bedroom of the Alexandria, Virginia, house that I shared with my late husband, Bryan, and that I still own.
For about three years in the 1990s I had a studio on the third floor of the Torpedo Factory Art Center, a building in Alexandria, VA that is open to the public. People would come in, watch artists at work, and sometimes buy a piece of art.
In April 1997 an opportunity to move to New York arose and I didn’t look back. By then I was showing in a good 57th Street gallery, Brewster Arts Ltd. (the gallery focused exclusively on Latin American artists; I was in the company of Leonora Carrington, Rufino Tamayo, Diego Rivera, etc.), and I had managed to find a New York agent, Leah Poller, with whom to collaborate.
I looked at only one other space before finding my West 29th Street studio and knew instantly it was the one! An old friend of Bryan’s from Cal Tech rented the space next door and he had told us it was available. Initially the studio was a sublet. The lease-holder was a painter headed to northern California to work temporarily for George Lucas at the Lucas Ranch. After several years she decided to stay so I was able to take over the lease. I feel extremely fortunate to have been in my West 29th Street, New York City space now for twenty-three years. In a city where old buildings are perpetually knocked down to make way for new ones this is rare.
My studio is an oasis in a chaotic city, a place to make art, to read, and to think. I love to walk in the door every morning and I feel calmer the moment I arrive. It’s my absolute favorite place in New York! Sometimes I think of it as my best creation. For more about this please see
Comments are welcome!
Q: I understand your comments to mean that being at the studio challenges you to be your best. How (why) do you think that works? (Question from Nancy Nikkal)
Posted by barbararachkoscoloreddust
“Avenger,” soft pastel on sandpaper, 58″ x 38″
A: I am always trying to push my pastel techniques further, seeking to figure out new ways to render my subject matter, expanding my technical vocabulary. It would be monotonous to keep working the same old way. Wasn’t it John Baldessari who said, “No more boring art?” He was talking about art that’s boring to look at. Well, as someone who CREATES art I don’t want to be bored during the making so I keep challenging myself. I love learning, in general, and I especially love learning new things about soft pastel.
Very often I start a project because I have no idea how to depict some particular subject using pastel. For example, one of the reasons I undertook “Avenger” was to challenge myself to render all of that hair! Eventually I managed to figure it out and I learned a few new techniques in the process.
Comments are welcome!
Posted in 2020, An Artist's Life, Bolivianos, Creative Process, Pastel Painting, Working methods
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