FAQ in Back

I'm adding a Frequently Asked Questions post to try to answer the queries. Allow me some frankness, if you will. Email any questions here with "Art Blog Question" as the subject.

You don't list prices. Are your pieces for sale?
Okay, I am an artist, not exactly a businessperson. I want to paint and I am finally getting around to all the other stuff, although my sidebar link to my Workhouse Gallery contains some paintings with prices. If you're interested, inquire by all means. I do commissions, but I really prefer working from life when possible. Almost all pieces are framed.

Why do you tell stories with your paintings?
I'm a storyteller, that's what I do. I'm a pretty quiet person, but don't expect a short answer if I'm in the mood for a story. I think the stories make the paintings more interesting. It goes from the visual to the emotional and perhaps the relational. Further, me chatting, not just supplying price lists, shows how I am as a person. I'm pragmatic, proper, improper, and silly. Okay, I also love to write and have blogged for years.

Do you spray your pastels with fixative?
Nooo, I don't use either commercial fixative or hairspray. They're best left in the can. My works are on sanded paper, much like 400 sandpaper except archival, and it grips the pastel firmly. Think about putting something wet on a powdery, pure pigment painting. All the pretty crystals reflecting light are suddenly squashed, slicked down, taking away some of the beauty of pastel. Light doesn't get to bounce around anymore. Sprays also darken paintings. Consider this one way I am a purist.

How do you create, transport, and store your pastels?
Because paintings outdoors are generally small, notebook-sized KOOOL Binders from Dakota Arts work beautifully. Inside hard plastic covers, you layer glassine with your paper of choice. I have several in the 8.5x11 and 11x14 sizes. I find using and handling the binders beneficial, because it lightly burnishes the pastel into the paper, much like a brayer. Larger, indoor pieces are taped to masonite and covered with glassine or tracing paper. If I am storing something on Pastelboard or often even loose paper, I put the pieces in archival sleeves called Krystal Seal or I wrap them in glassine or tracing paper.

When you paint outside, is it a social time?
Let me be honest here and say, "Well, not really."Although artists certainly appreciate art fans and some people seek to sell to an occasional prospect in the field, many of us want to be left in our groove. We're concentrating, so a conversation may be difficult. We may love children, but we fear them around our supplies. Remember that when the sun moves, our subject changes. Our job is fleeting and time-sensitive, so let us to it.

Here I had fun with this idea...

Click to read

These preferences are out the door, literally, if I am doing a group exhibit painting en plein air. The project becomes a bit secondary to the performance. Times like these are the only instances I think of painting as a performance or as part of the attraction. Well, if you folks helped make me famous, performing would be a happy part of that gig.

In your blog pictures, why are some paintings signed and some not?
In an ideal world, they would all be, however, if I take the picture of the painting while out in the field, they might not be, especially if a wet oil. Elsewhere, I spoke of "Painting to a Pile" for a long time as I was only interested in painting and not business. A painting from before recently (2008) wouldn't be signed. However, I wouldn't let them out the door without a signature.

Do you blend your pastels?
Remember that purist part? Well, when it comes to blending, I am virtually a purist. To preserve the integrity of the powdery structure, I blend with subsequent pastels, choosing the next pastel not only for its color and value, but also for its hardness, which varies greatly from manufacturer to manufacturer. You can finesse a lot with layers of pastel and smoosh (technical term there) pastels one on top of the other. Sometimes I'll lay my finger on a pattern I've painted to lift a little and soften it, so that's probably considered a blend, although light. Occasionally water might get a bit more than a swipe. Occasionally I'll use soft or hard brushes to remove bits or bunches of pastel. If you blend much on sanded paper, you loose a fingertip! Serving a similar purpose to blending, if I want a unifying color behind my painting, I can do an underpainting or use a pre-colored paper.

How many of your paintings begun in the field are finished in the field?

Close to 100% of my paintings are completely en plein air. I tend to sign them later, though. If it's not straight plein air, I indicate it. Often times, those are the ones done in the winter.

How accurate are the sizes you indicate on the paintings?

If the piece is canvas, canvas board, Pastelboard, or Gessoboard, it's accurate. If it's on Wallis, it is probably coming out of a KOOOL Binder, so some paper is lost to the binder holes. Sometimes, I'll divide off a portion of the paper for test marks. With a few hundred dusty pastels in front of me, it's handy to scribble a test mark on the same paper I'm using, so that can use up part of the page. In that case, an 11x14 might actually be an 11x13 or even 10x12 of late, give or take. If it's a real issue to you, I can measure exactly for you.

Clicking on your paintings doesn't go anyplace anymore. Why?

When I first started this blog, clicking on a painting would magically transport you to a large and detailed version of that painting. When I noticed on my meter that people were stealing, yes, stealing, my paintings, I decided to offer up as little material as possible without depriving my other readers. I prefer works to be un-watermarked for viewing, so I upload reasonable, medium-sized ones only. That way, you know that the paintings you purchased will not be in use by someone who stole the image. This post handles the quibbles very well.

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