|'Wandering West' 6x12 pastel ©Karen Margulis|
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Something strange happened this summer. One of my students told me they noticed that my pastels no longer whisper. I don't know if that is a bad thing or not. But she is right. It seems now that when I have a pastel in my hand I want to put down big bold marks. I don't seem to want to build up layer upon layer of pastel. I seem to want to choose a color, make a mark and leave it alone. What happened to the whispering light touch that I advise my students to use? Will it come back?
I remember exactly the day it went away. I was on my Southwest trip. We were in Springdale Utah. I was sitting on a bench outside of the coffee shop doing my daily painting. It was a view of the cliffs of Zion National Park. The light was perfect and the colors on the hillside were exciting.
I picked up a piece of 305 Nupastel and did a quick drawing. I wanted to capture the light and colors so I worked very quickly using big chunky marks and pressed down hard. Some of the dark lines were left in place. After that day the rest of my daily paintings went in a similar direction.
The strange thing was...I wasn't trying to do anything different. It was just happening. And I was excited about it. I wanted to do more to see what would happen.
|drawing with compressed charcoal|
|dry underpainting with Nupastels|
When I returned home from the trip. I got right to work painting from my photos. I didn't really think about how I would paint but I noticed that I was painting differently....more like my last daily paintings. As my student noted...I wasn't whispering. And now a month later I realize that I am really enjoying this new way of working. But I have concerns.
Is this a natural progression in my journey as an artist or just a summer exploration? Should I go back and try to paint like I did a month ago or should I just enjoy what I am doing?
I'd love to discuss this with other artists who have experienced this. But for now I believe that things happen for a reason. I stopped whispering for a reason and though it may not yet be clear to me. I need to keep exploring and see how it all fits. I think we learn something from everything we try. And maybe the things I am trying this summer will something that will help me grow. I will just enjoy the journey for now!