* an ongoing series of quotations – mostly from artists, to artists – that offers wisdom, inspiration, and advice for the sometimes lonely road we are on.
Classics have nothing to do with aesthetic sophistication. They use the aesthetic as a springboard to something else. The creation of a classic will often require the artist to deviate from prevailing standards in order to push the ordinary vision through. If there is one prerequisite for producing a classic, it is the willingness to follow the vision wherever it leads, even if it demands a breach of convention, technique, or popular taste. (It may not even be a question of if or when, for how can one produce a truly singular work without reinventing the medium to some extent?) We often hear that the master artist is “in love” with her material: that the sculptor loves the marble, the dancer loves the body, the musician loves his instrument. For the maker of classics, however, the medium always seems to be an obstacle; love is never without a tinge of spite. William S. Burroughs was so contemptuous of language that he took to describing it as a disease. He conceived his work as an attempt to confront language in hopes to cure the mind of the “word virus.” Indeed, if the goal of art is to take us beyond the ordinary preoccupations to reach the heart of the Real, it would seem essential that there be a fight, a struggle to wrest from the medium something to which Consensus dictates it is not naturally inclined.
J.F. Martel in Reclaiming Art in the Age of Artifice: A Treatise, Critique, and Call to Action
Comments are welcome!
Q: Your work is unlike anyone else’s. There is such power and boldness in your pastels. What processes are you using to create such poignant and robustly colored work?
A: For thirty-three years I have worked exclusively in soft pastel on sandpaper. Pastel, which is pigment and a binder to hold it together, is as close to unadulterated color as an artist can get. It allows for very saturated color, especially using the self-invented techniques I have developed and mastered. I believe my “science of color” is unique, completely unlike how any other artist works. I spend three to four months on each painting, applying pastel and blending the layers together to mix new colors on the paper.
The acid-free sandpaper support allows the buildup of 25 to 30 layers of pastel as I slowly and meticulously work for hundreds of hours to complete a painting. The paper is extremely forgiving. I can change my mind, correct, refine, etc. as much as I want until a painting is the best I can create at that moment in time.
My techniques for using soft pastel achieve rich velvety textures and exceptionally vibrant color. Blending with my fingers, I painstakingly apply dozens of layers of pastel onto the sandpaper. In addition to the thousands of pastels that I have to choose from, I make new colors directly on the paper. Regardless of size, each pastel painting takes about four months and hundreds of hours to complete.
I have been devoted to soft pastel from the beginning. In my blog and in numerous interviews online and elsewhere, I continue to expound on its merits. For me no other fine art medium comes close.
My subject matter is singular. I am drawn to Mexican, Guatemalan, and Bolivian cultural objects—masks, carved wooden animals, papier mâché figures, and toys. On trips to these countries and elsewhere I frequent local mask shops, markets, and bazaars searching for the figures that will populate my pastel paintings. How, why, when, and where these objects come into my life is an important part of the creative process. Each pastel painting is a highly personal blend of reality, fantasy, and autobiography.
Comments are welcome!