Lane Landry
Pacific Northwest Fine Art

Y ou might notice that I work a bit untraditionally with Pastels. I have to be honest, as a youth I had this image in my mind of pastels being for old ladies that did portraits of their grandchildren and still life's of rotting fruit (not that there is anything wrong with that!), but I definetly didn't think they were something I'd be interested in working in. Ironically a few years ago, when I officially become an old lady (at least from my childhood perception), in an attempt to force myself to "loosen up" I broke down and experimented with pastels thinking that if I forced myself to use a big fat piece of chalk to paint with then I simply wouldn't be able to get sucked into the detail of a picture...think again.

One day I walked into my local art supply store (Pro Art Source for any of you locals) and chatted about pastels for a bit with the owner (nice guy). He asked me if I had ever worked with pastels on suede matte board before. I had not and thought him a bit off, but because of his persistence I bought a scrap piece and went home to try it out. As I began to work on it the old commercial slogan "It's like butter" kept coming from my lips. I was hooked - in fact I was ecstatic (it doesn't take much). For any of you who like to work in pastel, I highly recommend experimenting with this surface at least once.

As far as what brand pastel I use, my early experiments were done with whatever gillion year old set I had laying around the house at the time - I think they were an old student grade set of Rembrandts. But after playing with the suede board and wanting even more of that "buttery feel," I did a bunch of research on the web and ended up purchasing a Landscape set of colors from Unison. Unisons are one of the only brands still hand rolled by little old European men in dark and dusty rooms (just my visual) and are priced accordingly. But I have to say, once I tried them I had absolutely no desire to work with anything else - again, like butter only better!

I do have one major gripe with working in pastels though, and that has to do with how fragile they are - not to mention the extreme difficulty I have had in having them professionally reproduced. Because of their flakiness (the pastels, not me) photographers will not scan them or shoot them in their vacuum boards (assuring flatness) because the chalk tends to get everywhere and ruin other pieces of art put in afterwards (whiners). So, the only way that I have found to have desired pictures reproduced is to have them shot by hand and pray for good results. Also because they are so delicate, I cannot (in my right mind) exhibit originals at outdoor shows - which I love to do. One good bump and the picture would be lying in the bottom of the frame (it's happened). Even the process of framing them tends to beat them up a bit (are you getting a sense that I'm frustrated yet?). As a result, I have developed over the years a love/hate relationship with pastels. So, if you're a pastel artist and you have found a solution around any of these challenges then I welcome your thoughts. In the meantime, I will hold out as long as I can in hopes that I will have an epiphany that will make all of these annoyances go away so it can be a more perfect medium to work in.

So that's my story with pastels. But wait...did they help me loosen up at all? Nope, now it just takes me a whole lot longer to get the detail that I am apparently obsessed with. Oh well, I hope you enjoy the work and I thank you for looking.