Wednesday, February 12, 2014

New Mexico Peppers - A Pastel Workshop

In New Mexico, February is usually cold and blustery, with snow and ice thrown in for good measure. That is why I have my yearly pastel workshop, here, in that month. Also, it’s a really good thing to have something to look forward to after the holiday stuff has been packed away and everyone hits the mid-winter doldrums. So while this is not plein air, there is a setup available for the students to look at.

This year, it was in the mid 60s! What’s up with that? We did have the wind though.

I always ask myself what I can do to make the next workshop better than the one we just completed. Next year, I am going to include how to frame a pastel correctly. We did not even get close to that topic. And perhaps it will be a two day Friday/Saturday workshop with an optional Sunday to finish if a body feels pressed for time.

Julie working away

For this project, I thought that everyone might enjoy a piece of the Southwest. So I took my handmade Indian pots and set them up with some bright red peppers that were available in the market. Below you can see the efforts of the students. A couple of them had never worked this way. 

Ruth - working to done
Diana - almost there

Lyn - almost there
Mary Jo - almost done

Marianne - with her piece close
to finsihed
Julie - almost done

It’s not a scrubby way of working. I usually save that for my landscapes in pastel. Following this deliberate way of working, an artist works out compositional problems at the drawing stage and once that is done, the artist can just immerse themselves in the passion of applying the pigment in a rich saturated way.

Need help with title - suggestions please?
I like that at that stage, I can concentrate on value and temperature to make the piece coherent. Color is then the reward I get for the prior work. And I love the juiciness and satisfaction I get of applying that color.

This is in need of a title…..never did get around to that. So help me out here. What is its name?

An 8x10 print goes to whoever names it.

Favorite quote:
Artists must know what they are doing and how they are going to do it, while allowing room for spirit and intuition to influence the creative experience.    (Donald Demers)

Calling All Artists! 
Please click here to go to Black Range Art for exciting news about an October 2014 opportunity to show your art, win prizes and take part in a new New Mexico Art Event!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

An Art Lesson From the Beatles

This week, in fact in four days, those of us who are old enough will remember the Beatles and the British Invasion of the 1960s.
Why is this important? Well why are the Dutch masters important to Western Civilization’s Art?
Both are important for the very same reason. They were and continue to be seminal influences on the generations of artists that came after them. I heard one commentator say that on February 8th 1964, nobody knew who they were, and that on February 10th, every kid wanted to BE them. Such was the power of the Ed Sullivan Show In those days. Every kid had a garage band and everyone wanted to sound like them.
But the interviewer for CBS had a far more profound observation than “they looked so happy and they were having such fun”. If you are old enough to remember, you hear their music and even today it puts a smile on your face. They were smart, they were energetic, they were happy, and they were fun. And we needed it.
The really smart musicians thought through the imitation and developed their own talents, using the Beatles as their unknowing mentors. But even as they did that, the ones in the know noticed that they no soon as got the sound down, than the Beatles’ sound changed. That’s right they kept reinventing themselves. They even went to India to study and learn Eastern instruments well after their fame and fortune had been insured. They never stopped changing their sound while keeping their focus of producing great and often thought provoking music. They continued to change and redefine themselves even after the group's disbanding and the death of two of their group. I'll never forget the day when one of my girl's asked me if I knew that Paul McCartney had belonged to another group before he was in Wings!!!
I think as a listener and definitely a fan of the four young men who needed a haircut, I knew what they were doing from an artistic standpoint, even though what I know about music is minimal.
They consistently REINVENTED themselves. They learned. They grew. And they took us along for the ride. Whether you like the Beatles or not, you have to admit that John Lennon’s “Imagine” is about as far as you can get from “It’s Been a Hard Day’s Night” and their early sound bites. They evolved.

What better lesson for artist or musician than that?

For a prospectus to take part in a great Plein Air Event in Southern New Mexico, this October 2014, please go to

Favorite quote:
·        People can relate to the musicality of shapes... Painting is 'silent music'... Soft and hard edges are similar to loud and soft notes... Harmony, chords, pitch, rhythm, syncopation and timber can all be translated to the visual arts.
     Clyde Aspevig