Sometimes you walk into the studio and you can just tell that it is going to be a good day. You are calm, you have prepared, you are not rushing the process, you take your time.
Recently I had one of those days. I related with my subject, remembering the day, the mood and the light that danced across a dirt driveway leading to a bright clearing. It was a late summer’s day in Easton MA, across from the refurbished Ames Shovel Factory which has been transformed into an attractive condominium. I remember how the light danced through the trees, the palette was soft but vibrant.
With a photograph to inspire me, I took my time, working through the composition in my sketchbook then transferring the design in vine charcoal to my UART 400 grit sanded pastel paper. The next step was a detailed oil wash, this process is key for me in determining color and value before even one pastel is considered.
If this step is successful, the next steps are pure joy, because I have already worked out the basic structure of the painting. Very gingerly, I select the pastels which I will use sparingly, lightly dragging them over the oil wash. It is a dance, choreographed with color and value. There is an intimacy between the pastel and the paper that is so delicate yet so dependable.
When you are in the zone, you feel the color, selections are careful and calculated. Suddenly there are not endless pastels to choose from, the field narrows and the magic happens. It is such a cool feeling when you see and feel it coming together, in real time.
At the end of this session, a huge sigh, a smile, many quick and lingering glances at the canvas, to check in …. Is it done? Are you happy with it? Did you learn something? Where you in the moment? Are you inspired to keep painting?
The answer is YES to all the above!