Friday, October 29, 2010


I am writing from Girona, Catalonia, toward the end of our long-anticipated vacation in Spain.  Our time has been spent in Castilla y Leon, Aragon, and Catalonia, and while I haven't painted -- I ended up leaving even the pastels at home -- and my fingers are itching to get back to my studio, I know that I have been absorbing shapes and colors and impressions that will feed my work for some time to come.  In these regions, there is much that is ancient, from the Celtiberians through the Romans, the Visigoths, the Moors, and the Spaniards and Catalonians, to modern-day style and experimentation, and the art and architecture overlay each other in mostly complementary ways.  I will be interested myself to see what might come out of this once I am home.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

new pastels

I accompanied Jerome and a pair of friends up the mountain today on a (for them) fly fishing expedition.  While they practiced casting, I rehearsed sketching using NuPastels on a Strathmore drawing pad, to see if the medium would suit me on our imminent trip to Spain.  (We leave on Wednesday, and I would not take my oils even if I could -- I'll have little chance to paint.)

I have sketched outdoors before, but always representationally. I wanted to see if I could, first, go abstract and, second, make the NuPastels work for me.  I sat by the stream, breathed in the fine autumn air, felt the sun falling across my shoulders, and absorbed the color palette around me.  I started with a shape or two from the hillside across the stream, then ignored the scene and painted.  I struggled with the colors so much that I didn't do much with composition.  But the point was to test the materials, not produce a painting.  (Pastels are work. Give me oils any day.)  In addition to test-driving the materials, I was able to explore the medium enough to be satisfied that it will do.  I am a novice at it, and "it ain't oil & cold wax", but it will do.  In fact, it will give me a chance to focus on some things like edges and value, two elements pretty much missing from my effort today.