Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Indiana Savannah (12 x 18 pastel on paper)

This is my first official pastel.

It's now hanging above my desk nicely matted and framed, waiting for the day when I'm famous and it will be worth a fortune. (I know that usually happens after the artist is dead, but oh well, the grandkids'll appreciate it!)

Here's the story of how I became involved with pastels.

In the spring of 2007, I was reading one of my jewelry magazines, and they had an article about summer camps for grownups. You know, places where you could go and spend a week in some idyllic location and do artsy stuff (and not have daily responsibilities - key seller for me!). One of the schools featured was Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. None of the jewelry classes offered seemed particularly appealing, but the artist offering a pastel workshop had amazing paintings whose artisitic style was similar to mine, so I thought I should give it a try.

The problem was that I was now signed up for a class geared toward intermediate and advanced students, and I had never completed a real pastel painting. So I bought some pastels and some paper, rummaged around through my art file for a subject, and came up with this one.

Not bad, I thought. I ready to go!

Never have I spent a week on such an emotional rollercoaster before! The people were great, the food was amazing, Susan Ogilvie, the instuctor was incredible, but I left every day completely defeated. Nothing turned out. My 5:00 cocktails became bigger every day, and nicotine my new best friend. Notice how you haven't seen any of the paintings I did while at the workshop.

I like to blame it on the scenery there. I mean, the forests of the Smoky Mountains have some really dark shadows, and the streams had rushing water and boulders (aren't rocks an artist's worst nightmare?). Besides, I had a very limited palette, and the supply store had crap for pastels, and ... and...

In actuality, I think I had finally hit the learning curve.

Upon return, I took out my notes and reread them. I opened my sketchbook and studied them, remembering the milllions of little tidbits I had learned. Then I washed off the panels that were too terrible to keep, resurfaced them, and started over. And always, I had Indiana Savannah propped up on the window sill to remind me of what I had done...what I could do.

A year later, I'd been accepted to a couple juried events, and had won an award.

And now my first painting hangs over my desk, reminding me that today is another day, and somebody new needs to see my work.

As we say in America, "Keep truckin'!"


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