Have been attending a portrait session each week for a couple of months now.  Very challenging, love the concentration time and not every week produces a good painting.  Here is a sample of some that I worked on a little once I returned to the studio.  I tend to refine for a couple of days after the session but try to stop before I lose that loose mark making.

Getting involved in my local pastel society! January 2017.

So, we moved to Houston, Texas a little over two years ago and to try to find 'my people' I searched local art societies for Pastel and for life drawing sessions.  Success was swift.  I found a little gem, the PSST or Pastel Society of Southeast Texas.  I went to their meetings, I volunteered to help out with donations for their national show, I took on a little more responsibility and well, now I am President.  Ummm, what was I thinking!  This is going to take time away from painting ......

This blog will chronicle the happenings in the life of a volunteer in a Pastel Society, specifically the PSST.   It is a little window into the mechanics that make the PSST run.

2017, like the year before and the one before that, is an exciting and busy year for the PSST.  We currently have our Members' Exhibition for the month of March at the Rotunda Gallery, St. Luke's Methodist Church on Westheimer.  The national show is slated for April and plein air events are taking place in San Antonio later this month.  The list of things to do continues as the PSST also runs mini workshops after its monthly meeting/demos and there are more plein air events planned later in the year.  We have a blog, a newsletter and a Facebook site.  We have a website which holds everything together and is our major tool for communication to our members and to the world in general. Hello world, we are the PSST we have a secret!  What is that secret? A wonderful group of people, working together as a team who really make things happen.  Phew, lucky for that because without people to get involved, PSST would not be as vibrant and welcoming and full of ideas and talent!  

What happened in December/January?  Handover of duties started (in a bar) with the outgoing Prez and incoming Prez chatting informally about what needs to happen to keep the Society ticking along.  Thanks Sharon.  So, I learnt about sending out requests for reports from each of the people who hold positions on the Board, collating them into one email and resending them out for everyone to read before the next meeting.  This is an essential technique for having quick, efficient meetings. 

Everyone puts their own little stamp on the organizations they get involved with and on the people they meet.  It is true in the PSST and it is also true, you do make great friendships and learn and grow as an artist, as a citizen, as an individual when you get involved.  

Thanks for reading and happy painting!

PS:  And, I get in front of my easel every day too!  

Mark Making: practical, technical, fun:)

Thanks for glancing at this blog.   It will be very informative and brief, to the point of ridiculousness.  It’s called Pastel Bytes.  These little gems will be about the practical technical aspects of pastel painting,  drawing or the bones of painting, art history from Leonardo to Banksy, a spotlight of a current Pastelist’s work, and a glimpse of  what’s on my easel and how I manage my studio.

  1. Mark Making (very practical, very technical, and a lot of fun:)

Pastels are versatile (extremely so) and are excellent for both drawing and painting.  Take some time now and then to remind yourself what that little stick of compressed pigment can do.  Find 20 minutes to practice creating strokes with pastels.  Let’s not think too much about color here, just the strokes you can make with a piece of pastel.

Remember, simply by twisting and turning the sticks, using the tip or breaking the stick (gasp, yes just snap it in half or thirds or whatever) turning the stick on it’s side, you can create a wide range of effects.

You can make soft washes of pigment over grainy or sanded paper.  Barely touch the surface to do this.  Make whisper thin lines, crisp strokes of varying pressure, rough dabs or dots or even dashes.  Try hatching, cross-hatching, overlaying and yes, blending.  Break the sticks, crush them, push the fragments into the paper, grate them over your paper or board then press the gratings into your surface using glassine paper.  Randomness is useful.

That’s it.  You are done!  What did you learn that you can use in your next painting?   Your daily experimentation will add to your pastel tool box.

Don’t forget the cornmeal

Best way to clean my pastels?  Goya Enriched Fine Yellow Cornmeal or Harina de Maiz, Amarillo Fina Enriquecida en Espanyol.   Always give my pastels a cornmeal bath after a painting.  Then I am set up to work on my next painting.  I really wanted to substitute masterpiece for painting but not everything I do is a masterpiece.

Happy Painting!