A earlier pastel of mine
A earlier pastel of mine
You can really put your whole body into a larger drawing. When I was younger I discovered I loved to swing my arm around when I drew. It helped me be more expressive in my work. Drawing at smaller sizes was confining, like being put in a box. As a result I never work smaller than 18″x24″ except on anatomy studies, and when working out technical problems. Even that size barely accommodates the motions I like to make when drawing.
Lately on by working on even larger drawings I have discovered the ability to put more of myself physically into working. I dance around while I am drawing. I lean, push and pull into and out of the marks I am making. I can slide across and around the paper. As the drawing builds I am able get a whole body rhythm going. I don’t have to put as much thought into it. It just flows out of me. It helps me express the energy I am feeling. Its totally a blast. Its incredibly expressive. Its something you can’t do working 9″x12″. There are hassles working this large, especially in pastels but I have found few greater feelings and for me it is well worth the rewards.
For me it’s drawing as movement=-]
There’s something seriously sadomasochistic about creating a 5 foot wide pastel drawing. Here’s why.
They are very difficult to store.
Some pastel artists will use something called a spray fixative. It applies a clear coating that bonds the pastel chalk particles to the paper, reducing the chances of smudging and “preserves” the drawing. I learned a long time ago this also slightly alters the look of a piece. To some artists the alteration is insignificant, to artists like me there’s it is simply unacceptable. I will not fix a drawing ever at anytime.
This leaves the surface more vulnerable to damage from smudging and other forms of contamination such as dust prior to framing.
Theoretically to store a pastel before framing one could cover it with tissue paper and store it in a flat file drawer system. 2 problems here. First my studio is too small for 6 foot wide flat files, and I honestly am not even sure they make them that big. Second, I use very high end, very expensive pastels these days. I use them because of their incredible vibrancy. The colors are incredibly saturated and beautiful. You have to see them in person to really get a feel for how really, really rich they are. I don’t want anything coming in contact with the pastel, not fixative, not tissue paper, not anything. Ok I’m a little stubborn:) but it matters to me. I put in the time, effort, and money to make these the highest quality pieces I want them to stay at that level.
I have idea’s on how to get them to the framer’s without anything coming in contact with the surface. I can build a recessed cardboard carrier, keep it flat the whole time. Shouldn’t a problem.
Storage until then? Until I can afford to frame them (will get to that problem shortly) I am storing them on the walls of my studio. Problems again. I have high ceilings but a lot of work building up in here. A couple more of these pastels and I’m out of space:( They are also vulnerable to dust but I don’t have too many worries about smudging.
So as it has been explained to me due to their size these can not be framed using glass. Ugh. They will need to be framed with plexi-glass. Ok simple right? Nope, more problems. The static electricity from the plexi-glass will over time draw the pastel figments away from the paper and to the glass surface, obviously creating an undesired effect. To offset this effect the drawing will need to be framed in a deep box and spaced back from the glass.
Also…I always liked the double mat look. Due to the large size they will need to be single mat. I can live with that though and I have considered though no mat as they have tape edges that will be peeled away upon framing. A mat may not be necessary.
Anyhow due to all of this framing for just 1 piece like this will cost around $1000. I am ok with that price if its of the highest quality but coming up with that uh I already spent it making the piece lol.
And the amount of pastel dust all over my studio is incredible.
So why create artwork that is so difficult to store, costs $1000 to frame, has around $700 in pastels on it, high quality expensive paper, the model, the studio overhead etc. ?(time spent yeah right)
I have to.
So I contemplated not. I contemplated making some more small pencil drawings, work on something else, ink, a smaller pastel maybe. I contemplated it for all of about 2 hours telling myself all of the above and why I shouldn’t, but I could see her, I could see her 5 feet wide and she was powerful, she was beautiful. I never stood a chance, she was getting made and she was getting made at this size!
So I make art that is difficult to store, to frame and even more difficult to sell (I will have to find very high end buyers). Sadomasochism at its finest!
I think though if I can make 12-15 of these and frame them I’ll have a body of work I can approach a serious gallery with. Until then…
Almost finished with the background. Should be able to finish up tonight. Pretty happy with it. Treading lightly and slowly on the face, I’m scared to wreck it :-0
She’s almost 5 feet wide by 3 feet tall. Big and powerful!
There’s been a heat wave here in NYC. I think it got up to 96 today. I am working on this under 2 150 watt lamps (at least I’m not painting, that would mean 3 lamps). They are kicking off some serious heat and with no windows in my studio that means no air conditioning or fresh air. Because of the pastel dust no fan either. Its pretty hot!!! I’m just grateful to be drawing right now. Its one of the best feelings in the world!
I am continuing down my path of rediscovering pastels. For this drawing I did just about the entire piece in Sennilier extra soft pastels. They are very expensive, especially for a piece this large (51″ x 40″). The colors are amazing, I really don’t think the photograph does it justice but its about the best I could get. I also used Arches 140lb cold press rough water color paper which allowed me to really work the pastels over and over, much like a painting. Its not a perfect piece and there are some area’s that I feel could use improvement but she’s a beaut to look at!
I haven’t worked in pastels in about 6 years for a few reasons. They are a storage hassel and many of my old pastels would get smudged and ruined because of the inability to properly store them. Also the dust gets everywhere! (I think I probably have rainbow colored lungs right now) Recentley though I decided to throw all worries aside and start making some pastels again. It has been a blast!!! I do see area’s for improvement in this picture, including the right hand and both legs, but I am very pleased with the ‘energy’ of it and the color’s really jump off the paper. I am also really starting to get a grasp of the differrence high quality paper and hand made pastels can make! Guess supply costs are gonna go up again :-0
Will write more later. Back to the drawing board…