Mark Making Part 12: Soft Pastels
Now we’ve come to the dry mediums that I rarely use, such as pastel – and next after this, charcoal. Ever since moving to my own apartment (eek, 10 years ago ::stares into the far distance over the insistent passage of time::), I just prefer to avoid potential mess.
I miss having studio space – or at the very least space in my parents’ house where I was less worried about losing a security deposit if I spilled a bunch of charcoal dust into the carpet.
I’ve been looking at photos and videos of art studios recently, pining over creating an improved setup. Most of the studio tour videos I see on YouTube are very Instagram-ready: pretty scenes of white IKEA desk configurations, beautiful house plants, and soft fairy lights. It might be easy to dismiss such style as what’s trending, but still I really like that aesthetic – given enough square footage, I would probably follow a similar design path. Though perhaps different desks… I do like the look of multicolored repainted thrift store furniture.
Yet, it strikes me how most of my fond memories of art studios – whether at art centers, in high school, or in college – evokes mess and chaos: the paint drippings, the butcher block paper over tables with all sorts of scribbles and spills, and the bookshelves with random still life objects and miscellaneous craft supplies.
The memories of art school come back with thoughts of charcoal dust covering wooden art horses, the smell of turpentine and printmaking inks, and just a general clutter. It used to slightly annoy me, honestly, all that disordered dirt and mess. Now, though, I find myself missing having an artistic space to work where there is permission to court a little chaos. Perhaps it’s been long enough, since college, that I can look back with more nostalgia than angst.
Anyway – onto the pastel drawings! Getting back into this medium reminded me how much it’s like working with paint. The drawings became more little vignettes of color and form, rather than linear marks.
I feel most comfortable with mixing tone and color, rather than a tendency toward line. My hope is to become skilled with both aspects of visual art, but this medium made it clear how much I feel called to painting over draftsmanship.
And then, to finish up with this medium, pastel pencils led back toward line work. Even if I feel clumsy, there is a rhythm to be found in gestural marks.
This mark making experiment has been slow going; lately I’ve been spending more time with my sketchbooks. I haven’t decided yet what to share from there – I want to be able to make mistakes, make bad drawings, in order to improve my skill. I’m suppose that in addition to a little organized-yet-chaotic art space, I’m also wanting to stay free and intuitive in planning my artistic practice. It’s exciting, to imagine where my path might lead.
‘Til next time.