This past spring I had the pleasure of reunited with two friends, sisters I’ve known since junior high school. Cathi Carvalho & Cindy Lucus dropped by my studio and I must say I’m always impressed and intrigued by novices who show a keen technical interest in my work. On a hunch I invited them to go out painting with me and, sure enough, they agreed without hesitation.
So late in the summer we found a free day to drive into the Santa Monica Mountains to paint out of doors (en plein air, if you prefer that artist’s term.) It was a warm, clear day and after setting up three easels next to one another and the other necessary artist’s materials, we got down to ‘lessons.’
First, I shared some general information, distilling what I could of my thirty-some years of experience into a message useful for my friends, hoping to help them clear some of the first hurdles every beginner must jump. Among the ‘basics’ we talked about prior to stepping up to paint was the value of sketching.
Drawing, like all art-making, is an exploratory process too valuable to be ignored and rushed past (though too often it is). Not wanting to bore my friends I kept my little ‘lecture’ short. Then I began a pastel painting to demonstrate how I worked the medium and how they might want to approach their own easels and blank painting surfaces.
The gals jumped right in and I was quite impressed with their determination and good spirits in the face of a challenging unknown. If anything bothered me about the day it was that I should have talked more about sketching, about the rewards of this creative lubricant for the mind’s gears. The following day I decided to share an email with Cathi & Cindy to add some thoughts about the process of drawing and painting and including the artwork below to help illustrate my commentary.
Cindy and Cathi agreed to let me share their experience in this blog.
The six small sketches above are not the same subject as the one rendered in the pastel painting below, however the subjects are similar and this similarity helps emphasize the role that line can play in effectively defining form and imparting the artist’s expressive intention, or ‘voice.’ Note in the sketches how a single line can outline form; how several lines can effectively describe a surface’s contour and texture; how an accumulation of lines can describe the values of, say, a cast shadow; or denote the local color of an object, like a red apple.
Created years ago the sketches are evocative works because of their notative brevity. With so little there to actually see a demand is placed upon the viewer to become involved and, in effect, complete the image themselves.
The pastel painting engages for similar reasons as artist’s materials and methods (technique) combining with the artist’s temperament to provoke a response. Burned, Brushed and Polished was created as a workshop demonstration back in the mid-90’s and the action and controlled furry of the line-work builds upon the ‘story’ assembled that day.
Examine more of my artwork at Brad Faegre Fine Art