Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Today I worked on revising some pastel pieces I'd thought were finished.  Last night Chris and I started the fairly arduous process of framing 7 pieces for the show I have coming up in October.  I cut the mats while he cut the wood for the frames.  I'm so blessed to have such a talented, supportive husband to make beautiful frames for me.

Because I had good luck using spray fixative on my self portrait, I decided I was going to fix the pieces I was getting ready to frame because I am tired of having pastel dust fall onto pristine white mats, causing me to have to re-mat the pieces.  It's a pain in the butt!  So today I got out my wonderful Schminke fixative and went at it.  3 of the pieces weren't too bad - they seem to have taken off a layer of pastel, but it was manageable - but the 4th one was horrible!  It went from glowing to dark and dull.  I was so disappointed.  there was no way I could frame it like that, so I brought it into the studio and started working on it again.  The picture on the left is how it looked pre-fixative.  The one on the right is after I repaired/re-did the fixed piece.  The good news is that I think it's a stronger piece now.  The bad news is that I can't fix it for fear of messing it up again!  Oh well - what's a bit of pastel dust on a mat?

After I finished repairing Valley's Folds, I decided to re-do another piece, American Beauty.  I had been pleased with it when I finished it, but the more it hung around the studio, the less I liked it.  The colors were too yellow and fake.    I decided to try to make the colors more realistic, or at least more muted.  I began by changing the background.  That made a huge different right away.  Then I put more pink into the flesh, and green and blue into the shadows.  That made is look richer and more realistic immediately.  I love how powerfully complementary colors create shadows and make the form have the illusion of going back.

The third piece I did some work on today was Just Thinkin'.  That one has an interesting history - the model at first was almost defiant in wanting me to paint her whole body, including her face.  After our session, though, and after thinking about it for a while, she realized she wasn't comfortable with it after all.  I think she was concerned that people she knew might see the pictures and use them against her. 

She's not the only model who has had that concern.  Another woman was worried her employer might see her picture and fire her simply because "that's not the kind of woman they want working for them, and they don't need an excuse to fire someone."  I hate it that women need to have those concerns.  I understand them, and I honor them completely.  I just hate that it could be the case. 

Anyway, the model for Just Thinkin' saw the piece I had done of her and asked me to remove the tattoo on her shoulder so she wouldn't be recognizable even by that in case someone should see it.  So the other revision I did today was to "erase" the tattoo - much easier done in pastels than in real flesh!

I think it's really interesting all the feelings we women go through when deciding whether to model, how much to show, whether to show our faces or not, who can see the pictures, etc., etc.  I've had those feelings myself when thinking about my self-portrait, so I completely understand. 

This evening I had the pleasure of teaching intermediate pastels in the studio.  I love teaching!  It's so exciting to see people come into their own as artists and to see them develop the awareness that they, too, can draw well!  It's exhilarating!


  1. You are framing for October already? I've got a show going up Oct. 7 and don't even have the 16 photos printed for the show yet. I hope to get them framed (we've got matts and frames for them already) in September and make the catalog after the final choice has been made.

  2. I happened upon you by chance when I searched spray fixative... Crazy, huh? I saw a thumb nail of your self portrait and I thought it very genuine. Beautiful and intimate. I just wanted to tell you from my observation, that I considered the after fixative one to do more justice to your work than before you fixed it. It may be the lighting from when you took the picture, but either way the coloring in the second one is much more vibrant.