The Stress and I

This is on the bedroom wall, between the bathroom and the closet.

Yesterday was a very stressful day. I had some very exciting reasons to get some of my pastels framed and I had to wait for some commission money so that I could begin that process. I received it and I ordered the mats to get started on the process. The delivery of the mats was very funny. They were supposed to arrive on Friday, but didn’t. They were rescheduled for Saturday, but didn’t arrive then, either. They were rescheduled for Sunday, but nothing. The tracking page was changed to say that they would be delivered on Tuesday. They got here yesterday, Monday. So, my plan had been to go get some frames on Monday, anyway. I hopped in the car and headed out. I got to the store and could not find any 16×20 frames less than $45. I know it is not all that much, but it is more than I wanted to spend on five frames. So, I waited for about 30 minutes, while another customer was being helped. I asked if there were some cheaper frames that I wasn’t seeing? I explained my situation and asked for his suggestion. He said that frames were 50% off if I had him do the work. I explained that I already had the mats. He said that is fine, he would do the work for free and I would pay for the frames and other hardware involved. Well, that sounded good to me, but I was a little hesitant. Framing pastels is a different deal than other things and I usually like to do it myself. I have been very successful in framing, thus far. But, if he could do it just for the price of the frames, etc., with my supervision, then that would work just fine. Only, I had to drive all the way home and transport five pastel paintings plus the mats back to the store.

This all started around 11:00 when I initially left the house. I went home, loaded up the artwork, which had to be transported flat on it’s back with nothing threatening it. Thankfully, we have a large backseat and a football field for a trunk. Anyway, I got them back to the store. Went back and forth six times, carrying each piece of artwork and the box of mats in the scorching heat and all the way across the store to the back corner. I was a sweaty, limping mess when it was all over. My broken foot has been bothering me for the last couple of weeks. (I broke it several years ago by dropping a large piece of firewood on it twice in 15 minutes…) Anyway, we discussed what needed to be done. After he saw what he had to work with, he had second thoughts. I should have listened to the hairs on the back of my neck which were screaming at me. But, I was already losing cognitive ability with the heat and pain and the noise and crowd of the store. He said he could do two that day, so I went to the front of the store to find a place to sit. I waited for about 30 minutes and meandered back to see how he was getting along. He looked harried and stressed.

The process that he usually used for framing was making a mess of the pastel. He showed me what he had. It was a horrible mess. Pastel dust was all over the mat and the glass. I could find no words, so I just shook my head. He said he would take it apart and try it again. I just stood there and watched him go. He did it again and it was not as much of a mess, but it was still messy. It was not his fault. It is very difficult to frame pastels, especially when it is on velour paper. And, apparently, this particular painting, Great-Grandma’s Bible, had an awful lot of pastel on it, especially the darks of the background. The poor guy was so stressed that I said that I would do the rest of them myself. And would he, please, give me the price of the frames that I would have gotten if he had done the work. He agreed. So, I had to transport all the stuff back out to the car and home. By the time, I had gotten everything back to the car and was in the car, myself, it had been six hours and I was sobbing on the phone to Ron. LOL!

The professionally framed mess and some of the ones that I did are stacked in a corner until I know what to do with them.

I spent the rest of the day and into the night doing my own framing. I got two more done that night. I got two more done this morning. And the whole time I was fighting myself about giving up on art forever! Ron talked me down off that ledge, again! But, I am moving back to oil painting. I have not done any oil painting since coming to Florida, because I don’t have a great place to spread out my stuff. But, I am going to have to use my living/dining room. So, here goes…!

I also framed my portrait of my brother, which I did many years ago, in a frame that I have had since Pat Catan’s closed in Mount Vernon. I think it looks very nice in that corner of the living room. The light has to be on to actually see it, though. LOL!

So, a question was posed, from the above portrait sitter, about how I did the background of the painting, Great-Grandma’s Bible. It looks black in the photos, but it was actually created using purple, blue, brown, and some black. He asked how it can be blended, because he thought I used pencils. I actually used soft pastels. Blending pastels is possible, but not easy, and not always effective. Usually, I just layer them until I get about where I want. That is probably why there was so much more pastel dust on that particular painting which led to the mess that it became during the great framing caper.

So, this is my initial sketch and beginning of the background.

I started with purple and slowly added other colors. When you look at the painting in real life, you can see all the colors that were used. In photos, it is hard to get all the nuances of color in a work of art. The paper also has something do with how the pastels behave. I have done some examples below:

The above is finely sanded paper, which feels just like regular old sandpaper that you buy in the hardware store. You can get it in different grades. I use very fine. I like the feel of it and it holds quite a bit of pastel, but it is difficult to blend and, because of its great pastel holding ability, it uses up pastels quickly. I chose similar colors in all three pastel types to make a comparison chart.

This is Ingres paper. This is my least favorite paper. It is not cheap and I have a large pad of it. I will use it up someday, but I won’t like it. LOL! I find it next to impossible to blend it and I can’t get the texture filled in very easily. I just don’t like it. There are people who love it. I have seen a man, online, who does such beautiful pastel drawings on it, but I don’t like it. Have I told you how much I hate this paper? LOL! It is also very thin.

This is one of my favorite papers. It has a smooth side and a rough, patterned side. I do not like the patterned side as much as the smooth side, but it is okay. I have used both. I use this paper for graphite, quite often. I use the tinted sheets. I did use white once, but don’t remember what I used it for.

This is velour paper. It is very soft and has a nap, just like velour fabric. It is thick and floppy. It sucks up a lot of pastel and it is very difficult to get used to. I hated it when I first used it, but since I had bought some of it, I had to use it. I got used to it and then grew to love the look of it. It is still difficult to use, but you do what you have to do for the result that you want. The first column is soft pastels, the second column is hard pastels, and the third column is pastel pencils.

I don’t know about you, but I can see the obvious advantage of using the velour paper with soft pastels. Beautiful color coverage. Blending is difficult, but I use the pastel themselves for blending and it works for me. You learn how to use the pastels lightly and sparingly to get the effect you want.

Below is a photo of the Green-Eyed Kitty when I initially started it with the pastel pencils. It did not work for me and I switched to soft pastels and, of course, you saw the result of that.

So, now I must change my mindset to work with oil paints. The rain has started. It is dark outside. My neck and back are complaining about the weather and I must think about making supper for my hard working man, who is due home soon. He is closing the store, tonight. I hope this was an interesting post.

The artist must create a spark before he can make a fire and before art is born, the artist must be ready to be consumed by the fire of his own creation. — Auguste Rodin

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