Two Dancers (pastel on paper) by Edgar Degas, 1898-1899
A long time ago (when I was moving from Victoria to Canmore) I discovered a box of art supplies in our storage room. In that box were some ancient pastels that perhaps once belonged to my son-in-law, perhaps a gift from his mom who loves to scavenge for treasures in garage sales and thrift shops. T. claims to have no idea where they came from and had no interest in keeping them, so they wound up moving here to the mountains with me.
The mysterious thrift store set of pastels…
Pastels are terrifying. They are messy and intense and stick to your fingers like a bad relationship. Or something. Anyway, they’ve stayed in a box with an ancient pad of pastel paper and a few other bits and bobs waiting for me to get brave enough to touch them.
The Players (pastel on paper) by Raphael Kirchner
Then, my friend Deb moved to Canmore and decided to clean out some excess art supplies and I found myself with a few more, newer pastels – also too scary to touch. Part of my anxiety around visual art comes from having grown up with an actual, accomplished artist. Talk about feeling intimidated! I was chatting with Dad about this at some point and he shook his head and said, “…when you were a kid you didn’t worry about it. You just tried stuff. You were quite good.”
Pastel by Robert Brackman
He’s my dad and I was a cute kid, so he’s obliged to say stuff like that. But, it did get me thinking that kids don’t worry about whether or not their efforts are good enough. At least, not at first. Eventually, many learn that yes, everything we do is judged – either by others or by our own inner critics… But at first, we just play. We grab whatever supplies are in front of us and we scribble and swirl, mix and match, experiment and goof around.
Georg Anton Urlaub, Self-portrait (1735) I didn’t realize that pastels have been around since the Renaissance… I bet this guy wasn’t nearly so neurotic when it came time to pick up his pigment sticks…
What, I wondered, would I have done with this abundance of pastels when I was 6 or 7? Who knows? What I do know, though, is I would have done something. I wouldn’t have kept the stuff in a box for two years wishing I had the nerve to play.
Bruised Planet Adrift (Nikki plays with her box of pastels… There. The curse has been broken. Now I’ll practice a bit, learn how to use the darned things, and see what I might be able to come up with. Note: I’m still a bit leery about touching Deb’s lovely, very new pastels.)
And, finally, one of the names of artists I heard mentioned often when I was growing up was Victor Pasmore, a British painter who influenced Dad when he was an art student. I don’t think this painting of his was done in pastels, but it does have a spiral-esque thing going on… just like me (heh heh). And, his name starts with P, so it’s totally legit to include him here today…
Spiral Motif in White, Black and Indigo, Victor Pasmore (1951)
See you tomorrow!