Drawing with pastels

Cat pastel collage

My impression is that pastel painting is not very popular these days. I’ve even had conversations with art students who do not think that pastels are a legitimate medium or “for kids.” They had no idea that pastels have been widely used for over 500 years by lots of artists from Mr. Da Vinci to Mme. Cassatt. Mr. Chardin produced a large body of work in pastel. New York’s Met Museum had a major exhibit of Chardin pastels a couple of years ago. Other users include Whistler, Kitaj, Monet, Kahn, Degas and Redon. I use it a lot. It is very expressive, can travel easily, are easy to clean up and can be started and stopped without much hassle. As far as I am concerned it is an ideal medium if your work requires you to jump from project to project. Some say that the dust and using workable fixative in an enclosed can pose a health hazard. I have not looked into these issues and maybe I should. In any case, here are two very recent pastel and charcoal works. They are 18 x 24 on laid-textured, 60 pound Strathmore pastel paper. The subject and style are very loosely derived from 25,000 year old cave paintings, something that I have been playing with since I first saw photographs of them, perhaps 40 years ago. When it comes to cave paintings, I suppose, I am a bit late to the game. But then, I am using a medium that was state-of-the-art merely 500 years ago. I plan to produce about a dozen of these “cave drawing” themed drawings over the next few weeks, at least that’s the goal. We shall see.

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