Courage. Authenticity. Freedom.

Thoughts

On my Instagram art page, I follow hundreds of artists and also have the honor of being followed by hundreds of artists in turn. The comments are so encouraging from the artist community and I have been uplifted by the support when I post a first sketch or a new painting.

Along with the artists’ pages, I also began following #grayhairmovement about four months ago when I, myself, decided to let my hair transition to its natural gray. Or as it is often called, and rightly so, silver. Gray hair has a bad reputation: as being lifeless and drab, or dry and course. I have found that it is none of those things. It is sparkly and reflects the light. It is smooth and soft. And I love my silver hair! I also love these words many use to describe #silversisters: courageous and authentic.

Courage. Authenticity. Freedom. The artist and author's thoughts and experience on her silver hair and the #grayhairmovement
#grayhairmovement

Those very same words can be used to describe anyone, I believe, who reveal their vulnerable side whether it be as an artist, musician, singer, or sculptor. You name it, if you have to create anything at all, it takes a certain amount of courage to be authentic and to show that to the world.

These words courage and authenticity, to me, are interchangeable with following my vision to share my pastel paintings and to stop coloring my hair and embracing my silver. It takes that and more to bare your soul and your spirit, and rely on your “feeling” that it will all be okay.

And for me, what is the end result of all this courage and authenticity? Freedom. Freedom to be myself. Perhaps cliché, but from the first silver hair to the very last stroke of color added to my pastel painting, there is a tremendous sense of freedom in showing the real me.

Pastel Art and my Painting Process

Pastel Art
Photograph provided by client

Many people inquire about what my process in creating a pastel art is like. I’d love to share a general idea about how I create my pastel art. The process begins with a photo that is usually cropped until it looks like an interesting vantage for a painting. This is usually provided by the client who wishes to commission the painting. I usually get commissioned to create paintings based of travel photos, and locations that have a special place in their hearts. I was commissioned to recreate this photograph of two Llamas overlooking the ancient Machu Picchu, provided by a client who just had her honeymoon in Peru.

Then I draw a quick thumbnail sketch using charcoal. I use a grid to position objects in the correct place even though this sketch itself is usually only about 5” x 7”. It is converted later to the correct paper size that I’m using for the actual painting.  The other purpose of a thumbnail sketch is to show the values (dark, medium and light tones).  

From there I do a color study sketch which roughly shows a few colors again concentrating on the values.  

Now it’s time for the painting itself! Again using a grid I place main objects, horizon lines, trees, houses, etc. in their correct position but I’m using only two colors at this point (one for dark and one for medium) and am roughly sketching the areas almost in a block form. It’s a good idea at this time to lightly apply rubbing alcohol with a wide brush to give it an “underpainting”.

Then I start layering lightly and adding more and more colors. The whole process of pastels is relatively fast and you really see a transformation before your eyes. 

Pastels for me is a perfect medium because I can see results in a short time and I love the color of pastels – almost pure pigment.

My Journey to Pastels

Thoughts
My art studio

Inspiration…

can come from many places. For me it has been a long journey to be “inspired” and to find something that truly spoke to my soul. I have been searching for awhile and tried many different things: jobs, volunteering, writing. Each time I would venture into something new I was sure that this was the thing I had been searching for. But after a period of time, some shorter than others, I would find myself bored or looking for something new. And then this past fall, things began to happen in a slow stream of synchronicity. The strong coincidences happened subtly at first and then, everything just clicked into place.

From what I can recall, I read an article about thinking back when you were 10 and what you liked to do. Embrace your inner child it instructed. Remember what made you happy. For me it was art, especially pastels. So I searched for a pastel class which was difficult to find. Luckily I found one that was held in the morning on a Thursday right in my town. Step one. The class was awesome but I would have to invest in materials that most likely would end up in a box somewhere, unused, which is the way of most of my attempts at finding that “certain something”. But I took the leap, and bought the pastels, paper, and other assorted art supplies. And I kept going, faithfully, every Thursday…and signed up for the next session again…and again. In time, I found myself totally immersed in art and pastels. Hours would go by and I would still be working on a piece I had started earlier in the day…it was mesmerizing.

So here I am, six months later, painting on a daily basis and for the first time in a long while, totally enjoying every moment. Of course there are frustrations and a piece may not turn out as well as I wanted, but the end result is usually something of which I am proud. After finishing several pieces and hanging them on my walls of my art studio (yes I have designated a spot just for my art), I can honestly say I am now truly inspired. It took me on other paths as well, spiritual and thought-provoking, but that’s for another day, another blog post! All I can tell you is, if you too are looking to find inspiration, look inside yourself and don’t ignore the little whispers telling you to try something new, or to try something again, even if it’s from a very long time ago.