The first part of my career was heavily invested in soft pastels, which are like chalk. I never really liked the feel of the oil ones. But a friend recent suggested I try them again, so I bought just a couple of random sticks to test out. It’s always good to try things again after a break and see if your younger self might have been wrong. (Hello, tomatoes!) I think I might really like these. They’re immediate and loose and rich, and, unlike soft pastels, I don’t need to carry an easel around. These don’t have to be vertical to drop all the drifting dust. They’re actually a lot like high quality crayons for adults. You end up carrying a little more around on your back, but they work nicely large. I might get a bigger sketch pad and a small set take some to Paris with me next week. It would be fun to work in a very different medium while I’m there. These are a lot looser and more linear than the work I’ve been doing lately. It would be a fun change. They would be great for figure sessions as well I think. I do love having my model right beside me all the time. Yay for Mr. Darcy.
I spent a lovely Saturday morning at Dixon for the second day in a row. They open the gardens up at 8 am, and entry is free on Saturday mornings. Strangely, no one else came while I was there,at least not over at the far side, so I had a peaceful morning with some lovely formal gardens all to myself. I did two pastels while listening to my morning NPR shows, and then headed inside to see the Brian Selznik exhibit.
It's a good show, lots of lovely pencil drawings, and my book club had strongly enjoyed his novel-(half)-in-pictures.
I topped off the morning with a stop by the farmers market on the way home. A good day at work.
Getting home from my weekend and getting ready for the opening took up much of my week, but we've had two lovely, lovely days since the opening for me to celebrate by getting back out to work. I get antsy when I don't paint for several days, so it was pure joy to go out with my pastel kit the last two days.
I'm looking ahead to winter and thinking that I should store up some studies to paint from during the coldest weather. Hopefully we'll also have some decent days for me to go urban sketch as well. But pastels give me much richer color and value information, so I'm going to concentrate on them for a little while. I want to stockpile enough to keep me busy over the winter. These two are from yesterday, my first day back to work. (Or at least back to the fun part of being an artist, which is making the art.)
I'm finally back in the saddle for new blog posts. Sorry to have been gone so long. We were house-sitting at Country Workshops, a small farm and woodworking school in a remote corner of North Carolina. It's so remote, in fact, that broadband isn't offered, and my Weebly site builder won't work on their dial-up. So I just waited to come home again.
I've been working hard all summer on my urban sketches (my show hangs next week!), and it was lovely to have a vacation. I did several small pastels that I plan to paint from this winter, and I did a little printmaking, but mostly I read three books, took naps almost every day, played music with the next-door neighbor, and totally enjoyed hearing my Cardinals win the World Series. We could get the radio signal up there with the Cards broadcasters we love, but there wasn't a tv signal.
The farm is a gorgeous place, and we're lucky enough to either house-sit or go for a class once or twice a year. Elmore is sounding very tempted by the boat-building class next year, and I'll enjoy hanging out to paint. They just got their 2012 schedule up, and I can't recommend the place strongly enough if you're looking to take a wood-working, basket-weaving, or cooking class.
Martha Kelly is an artist and illustrator who lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee.
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