I'm often asked if I use fixative when I finish one of my pastel paintings, and I am emphatic in my big fat NO response. Here's why:
There are multiple reasons why I don't use fixatives, but the main reason is that I don't like what fixative use does to the appearance of pastels.
Hope springs eternal, though, and I still was hoping to find a way to use a fixative or varnish to make a pastel without the need for framing the work behind glass.
With that in mind, I purchased art panels that had a rough texture. The advertising copy indicated that these panels were perfect for pastels, and that an artist could varnish the pastels on these boards and frame them without glass.
Hearts and flowers danced in the air at the thought, and I couldn't wait to try it out.
The panels were only 6x6 inches, (see below for what I used) so my commitment was minimal. I also understood that the work that I was going to make would likely be sacrificed once the varnish was applied. In other words, I knew that the work could be ruined, but it was all in the name of potential progress.
These are the panels that I purchased for this experiment.
Here is the little pastel painting prior to my use of varnish made for use with pastel.
From the photograph of the painting above, you can see the luminosity and subtlety of the colors that is a characteristic of pastel pigment.
Now look! After using multiple layers of varnish to ensure that the pastel wouldn't smudge, the luminosity is obliterated. See how much darker the colors are, and also how the complexity of colors is no longer apparent?
Now, I know that I could reestablish those lights and add more color to the piece, but that would defeat the purpose of using a form of fixative to be able to frame a pastel without glass.
Sigh. I will continue to not use fixative, and continue to use glass when I finish my pastel paintings.
Now it's your turn. Do you use fixative? Why or why not?
Want to know how I go about making a commissioned painting? Check this out.
Make sure to take a look below the video for an image of the finished painting!
Smooth Day Rocky Path, 24x36 inches, Oil on Canvas, ©Lynn Goldstein
Cooler than Warm, 11x14 inches, Pastel, ©Lynn Goldstein $650
Do you like receiving criticism? I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that your answer is no. None of us likes to be criticized.
Years ago, my son asked me what my least favorite thing about college was. I told him critiques. You see, my professors were scandalously brutal. At times, artwork that was labored over for countless hours was destroyed (literally) in front of the class. YIKES!
I don't know what changed, but as I have gotten older, I listen very carefully when someone has a negative thing to say about my artwork, teaching, even my personality. As a result, I have come to realize that a tip for being a better artist, and even a better person, is to listen intently when someone gives me the gift of criticism. How do you accept when someone is telling you something you may not want to hear? Take a look at the following ideas to help you do just that:
1. Try your best to simply listen without thinking of a defense or taking offense
When we are not trying to come up with a response, we are better able to hear what is being said, and more likely to take something away that is positive.
2. Consider the source
When I was younger I heard all criticism and tried to give each opinion equal consideration. I was trying to be fair in my assessments. This approach just led to confusion and self-doubt. I have learned that there is limited time (and energy) to do that, so I am judicious about whose opinions will be considered useful.
3. Ask for exactly what you want to know
This works great when wanting to ascertain if your artwork is where you want it to be. For example, rather than asking, "Do you like this, or what do you think?" be specific. Instead ask, "Is there something that you would do in this section of the artwork that will make it stronger?"
Since hearing potentially negative things about ourselves and our art can be so difficult, I am wondering if you have insights on how to take that constructive criticism and use it for art or self- improvement? Please share your tips in the comments below.
Spotlight, 14x11 inches, pastel, ©Lynn Goldstein $650
Plein Air with Benefits, 9 x 12, pastel, ©Lynn Goldstein
Traveling is one of life's great pleasures, and Ireland is a landscape painter's dream.
When I travel with my husband (aka Terrific Tax Attorney), there is no time for making art. You see, he can't sit still so we are always on the go. Taking photographs isn't out of reach though. Here are some beautiful, inspiring photos to add some joy to your day. Let me know in the comments which photo is your favorite. I just may use it for resource for my next painting!
The view from outside our hotel window in Kinsale. This one will be a pastel painting any day now.
I get great inspiration when I travel.
I don't know if I will ever utilize an idea from this fantastic window display in Dublin,
but it sure was exciting to see it.
Okay. The pubs! Need I say more?
Not far from Kinsale is a gorgeous spot called Old Head. Love the reddish heather.
So fortunate to visit with my fellow artist friend while there.
This is a stunning spot on the Dingle Peninsula in County Kerry.
That land masses in the distance are the Skellig Islands as seen from the Ring of Kerry.
The Killarney National Park "Ladies View" is behind me with TTA (Terrific Tax Attorney). We were freezing.
Ross Castle in the distance in Killarney National Park
You know that I had to throw in a gorgeous tree, right?
Isn't this something? No one lives here, but wow!
Solidly Planted, 12x9 inches, pastel, $575 ©Lynn Goldstein
,Working as a graphic designer for 17 years never felt like I was following my heart. During that time, I was going through the motions so that I could work on my painting when I wasn't completing graphics projects.
You see, until I began pursuing making art on a full time basis, I was not following my heart's desire. Over the years, examples of how things work out when one follows their desire have presented themselves to me. These examples come when I least expect them.
While in Italy, I was reminded of how things work out if we follow our hearts. Let me share with you a story that illustrates just what I mean. The tale is a little long, but I think you'll love it as much as I did.
The drive in and out of San Fedele
My workshop was sponsored by a company called Il Chiostro which handles art workshops. We stayed in a 12th Century renovated monastery called Borgo San Fedele owned by Nicolo and Renata Strub. Nicolo was born in Rome but spent time during his childhood visiting the area around San Fedele. While living in Milan, they visited the Tuscan countryside often. During one visit Renata asked Nicolo to promise her that they would live there one day. The promise was not difficult to keep because the area was filled with wonderful memories for Nicolo.
The door to my room
The two began visiting with an eye toward purchasing property, and were told about San Fedele. San Fedele had been abandoned for 20 years and the structure showed the kind of wear that you would expect. There were vines growing over the buildings as the vegetation began reclaiming the crumbling edifice. Nicolo and Renata fell in love with the place and they couldn't stop thinking about it. Finally, they followed their hearts, made the decision to make an offer, and began the daunting task of renovation which took almost 7 years.
Out of the blue, Nicolo got a phone call from a stranger who had heard about their purchase. The man was an architect who had written his thesis about San Fedele. He understood the structures and offered to work as the architect for the renovation project. He also impressed upon Nicolo the need to hire contractors who were local and had a connection to the place. Nicolo didn't think too much about this directive, but followed through and hired locals.
On the exterior of the sanctuary roof was a wooden cross that needed to be replaced. One of the workers knew exactly the person to make and install this cross. The day that the cross was finished and was to be installed, Nicolo met the contractor and the maker of the cross whose name was Gino. Gino was in his early 80s. The day was sweltering and the 3 men (the contractor, Nicolo, and Gino) made the long climb to the roof. When they reached the top, Nicolo noticed that Gino was wiping his eyes and face with a hankie. Concerned, Nicolo asked Gino if he was okay, did he need something to drink or anything? Gino responded that he was fine but that he knew that this would be the last time he would be on the roof of San Fedele. You see, Gino's father had constructed and installed the cross that they were replacing and Gino had been there with his father as a boy when it was installed. Now, Nicolo understood why local contractors and craftspeople were so important to this project.
I also believe that the coincidences that occurred were the result of Nicolo and Renata following their hearts. You see, I believe in magic in the world.
I plan to follow my heart as well, and hope to go back to San Fedele next year to teach again and share this magical place with more students! I hope that you can join me.
What do you think? Do you follow your heart? Has that been a good way to proceed in your life? Let me know in the comments below.
Here's the group having a great lunch
To enjoy more photos of Italy, click here.
Having just returned from teaching a workshop in Tuscany, I can say with honesty (even knowing the impossibility of it) that I want to be Italian. I want to speak English with an Italian accent and express myself in perfect Italian. I want to spend more time with exuberant people who seem to have a great joy for living. I want to revel in all the history and beauty. I want to eat that great food every day. I don't even care that much about ice cream, but I love gelato. I already use my hands copiously to communicate. Why not?
Oh well, I know this is impossible, but it isn't out of reach to return for a visit to teach there again. In the meantime, here's a look at some of the beauty that we experienced in oh so lovely Italy.
Outside the Uffizi Museum in Florence
Day trip to Cinque Terre that I took before the workshop began in Tuscany
Sienna with drum accompaniment
So many wineries, so many grapes
Blustery and beautiful
Students enjoying the view
With Michael, our program manager (and my soul sibling), right before leaving after teaching the workshop
Inspired by Canada--The Sentinel, Oil on Canvas, 24x24 inches, ©Lynn Goldstein $1900
Travel helps to fuel my artwork. The painting above was inspired by a recent trip to the Canadian Rockies.
Since my goal as an artist (and human being) is to touch people in a positive way, I thought that sharing this little bit of the peace of nature with you might be something you would enjoy today.
Here are some gorgeous photographs from Canada, along with a video to bring some peace into your day.
This was the view from our hotel in Banff. Ahh, feeling calmer just looking at it?
Also from our hotel in Banff as the evening started to set in.
Lake Morain in Banff. Look at that blue water!
An incredible spot in Jasper. I think this is my favorite photo from the trip.
One day we drove to Mount Robson and hiked along a glacial river to see the mountain and Berg Lake.
This picture is from that hike. My favorite day of our trip.
The glacial river beside us during our hike to see Berg Lake at Mount Robson
My plein air setup and a work in progress.
Working outdoors can be challenging .
Here are two incidents that illustrate what I mean. One situation made me smile, while the other made me shudder.
In retrospect I realize that both experiences enriched my life, even if only because I can share the stories with you.
Years ago, I was working outdoors at Burke Lake, which is a lovely park not far from my home. I was enjoying the day, when a dog and its owner approached me. The dog was a big dog— a cute mutt. I love dogs, and want to interact with them, but always ask the owner if their dog is friendly before I do so. This day was no different. The conversation went like this: Me, "Is your dog friendly?" Dog owner, "Oh yes! No problem." While stabilizing my easel with one hand, I reached out to pet the dog, who was mighty excited for the attention.
The dog and I shared a little mutual love, then dog and owner began to leave. As they both moved away from me, the owner shouted to her pup, "No biting!" After hearing this, I asked, "Does your dog BITE?" She responded, "Oh yes, and usually he goes right for the face." Good heavens. You just can't make these things up!
Unfinished painting where my pastels were attacked by a flying acorn
I bet that you know that I shuddered when the dog and his owner left.
Now, this experience made me smile. Recently, during a break from the rain, heat and humidity, I hurried outdoors to get some painting done. Running late, due to going to a site that yielded nothing for me, I went to a favorite spot.
As I was setting up, a fisherman decided that he would try his luck right next to me. I didn't realize how loud casting a line could be until he tried catching the attention of fish repeatedly. Each time he cast his line, I jumped. Fortunately, the fish were not interested, and he moved away. Finally, there was blessed peace and I could concentrate, which I did.
While taking a break and snapping a progress pic, I was startled by a loud crack. There was no evidence of what caused the noise, but one of my pastels had smacked to the pavement, and broken into pieces. I wondered if I had put the pastel stick down in a precarious position. When I found no solution to the mystery, I just continued my work.
While packing up to leave, I saw the culprit. An acorn had fallen from an overhead tree right onto my easel shelf, causing the pastel stick to "jump" onto the ground. Nature... it makes me smile...even when it destroys my supplies.
Do you paint outdoors? If not, why not? If you do, what's one of your interesting experiences?
For those of you who don't paint, share something interesting that happened while you were enjoying nature.
Please share in the comments below. I love interacting with you and hearing your stories.
Terrain, 12x12 inches, Pastel, ©Lynn Goldstein SOLD
Thanks so much to those of you who judged from the 3 pieces I submitted to the Pastel Society of America exhibition. I can tell you that no matter the choice of the judges, I am the winner having all of you supporting my art making journey. I am grateful.
You all spoke, and Remain Standing was selected by a wide margin, which I find interesting since Terrain (shown above) was selected by the judges.
I shipped the painting to NYC a few weeks ago, and it is now hanging in the exhibition.
As mentioned before, I am particularly happy about having my work selected this year. As a result of that selection, I am now officially a signature member of the Pastel Society of America. You may read my feelings about gaining that status here.
What I didn't tell you was exactly how competitive this show truly is. To give you an idea, there were around 1298 submissions and less that 180 paintings were selected. Those are some daunting numbers to say the least. So, gratitude is the word of the day for me!
The winner of the pack of notecards is being contacted via email because I want to protect people's privacy.
Again, thanks to everyone who gave me their opinions.
If you are in NYC between now and September 29, I hope that you go to see the show. Here are the particulars: Enduring Brilliance, September 4-29 at the National Arts Club, 15 Gramercy Park South, New York, NY.
(The people's choice) Remain Standing, 12x12 inches, Pastel ©Lynn Goldstein $575
My students often ask me how I know what I want to paint. They also say that they don't like to paint the same thing over and over. I am then reminded of this quote: "Write what you know," which is attributed to Mark Twain. I have read different opinions about the quality of his advice over the years and have come to believe that it is sound counsel. I also think that it can transfer to painting. Read on to see what I mean.
"Illuminated," 20x20 inches, Oil on Canvas, ©Lynn Goldstein Inspired close to home
Think about it. Many of us are fascinated by other cultures. Personally, I am inspired by travel and seeing the unfamiliar.
That said, I believe that my most successful paintings evoke a feeling stimulated by being in a specific spot, and I find it most easy to express those emotions when painting something that is deeply entrenched in the core of my being.
My morning walk. Do you see how my work is inspired by the familiar?
We all find our peace in different places. My balance is always found in and among the trees and around water. Therefore, inspiration from my frequent walks finds its way into my work, whether I am in my home of Virginia or in distant locations as in the painting below.
So if you are looking for your next idea of what to create, look no further than your own backyard. You may be surprised by the wealth of inspiration to be found there.
When you look at the video that I have posted here, what do YOU see that is a common thread in my work? If you were going to emphasize something in the scene, what would you choose? Let me know in the comments below.
"Path to River," 20x16 inches, Pastel, ©Lynn Goldstein Inspired by a location in southern France
Happy to have you here. This is where you will see work in progress, tips about making art, seeing art, and enjoying art. You will also see ways to live life like an artist.
Want to learn more about my upcoming workshop in Italy, October 5-12, 2019? Click here. There is still some room left for you!
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