Saturday, July 16, 2011

Dry Pastels. Better Than Oil.

The oil painting thing just isn't working. I freak out every time I clean my brushes because I have to do it in the kitchen sink. I can so easily see myself doing something really disastrous to the kitchen. Plus it's probably really bad environmentally to be disposing of oils that way. So I was in this quandary. Do I need to pay rent for a studio space to continue? Then all of the sudden it hit me. Why am I stuck on oils? Why not use dry pastel crayons? I still have my supply.

I went on the web and got some ideas about how to work with them and then started on my first piece. So how was it? Well, I really enjoyed it. There is a bit of a painterly feeling to how you use them in terms of laying the colors on. Then again, it really is a different process in how they work because there is also a drawing feel to the experience. And...I really liked blending with my fingers and getting pigment all over my hands! Fun fun fun!

The piece I did was a landscape, but I was mostly just playing with how colors get laid out. Learning by doing. I was happy with the piece when it was done, but I refused to commit on a verdict until I put it away for a few days.  When I did come back, I could see it is not at all good. There's not enough variation in the tonality of the color, which makes the whole thing kind of flat and uninvolving. Also the perspective wasn't what I was after. But that's all fine. The first one or two dozen pieces are not going to be good. That's what happens when you're learning.  However, the fact that this medium works without me having a studio is good in terms of the likelihood of me continuing.

I was also struck - after coming back - that I perhaps I should use some fixative and continue laying down color. Maybe really labor over it. When I first began crafting my poetry rather than just writing them, I'd have work and rework poems, fix them, labor over the words I selected, write multiple drafts, etc. After a while, I developed a strong sense for how to work with poetry so that I didn't need to labor as hard to get what I was after. It's about honing the skill in using the tools you have in the medium.

The same is true with the dry pastels. I have to try to find time to keep doing it and just keep creating stuff and exploring how they work. Every piece I create, whether it's any good or not, will provide me with information on how to function. Kind of exciting and daunting all at once!

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