This is my third attempt at using pastels. Since I am a rank beginner in pastels, I decided to limit the unknowns and simply make a copy of one of my own oil paintings. In this case, I copied my earlier Painting #60 – Morning Light. This earlier post also shows the source photo.
I have now expanded my pastel set to include more colors but all in all I only have about 15 colors. And I am sorely missing some grays and blues – or perhaps I just need to learn more about mixing them! Other than my inexperience, I really like the forgiving nature of pastel, and the very tactile feel of it. At times it feels like I am carving the painting by hand.
I used the rough side of the Canson Mi-Teintes paper. In my next painting I tried the reverse side and liked it better (next post). Think I will stick to that side from now on, or use Hot-Press watercolor paper.
The past week the rain and wind has been relentless. At night I hear the wind shake the world outside, rain pounding roof and windows. I feel my breathing quicken. Wide awake now, I feel for a moment a giant hand enclose my entire fragile life – a slight tightening of the grip, then release. Sleep comes again. In the morning I see signs of the cycles of like outside in plants and animals.
Being sensitive to this fragility is good, I feel. It makes me “see deeper into paintings” (Rilke). Robert Henri writes:
That time we sat in the evening silence in the face of the mesa and heard the sudden howl of a pack of coyotes, and had a thrill and a dread which was not fear of the pack, for we knew they were harmless. Just what was that dread — what did it relate to? Something ’way back in the race perhaps? We have strange ways of seeing. If we only knew — then we could tell. If we knew what we saw, we could paint it.
When I hear the giant pines being shaken to their roots in the night, I think of this poem by Transtromer:
Storm The man on a walk suddenly meets the old giant oak like an elk turned to stone with its enormous antlers against the dark green castle wall of the fall ocean. Storm from the north. It's nearly time for the rowanberries to ripen. Awake in the night he hears the constellations far above the oak stamping in their stalls. Tomas Transtromer, translated by Robert Bly in The Half Finished Heaven.
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