Giving Thanks, Pastel Style


This week the United States of America celebrates the Thanksgiving holiday—a time when we’re encouraged to reflect on the things for which we are thankful. Human nature, being what it is, often keeps us more attentive to the negative versus the positive aspects of life. All we have to do is tune into the daily news to witness this fixation. This predilection to the negative may serve a profound purpose in encouraging us to strive for better, but when left unchecked over a period of time, can led to frustration and hopelessness. The same tendency to focus on the negative can affect creativity.

Putting Your Progress in Perspective: One way to confront this is to periodically assess your artistic aspirations. Personally, I find it useful to occasionally step back from the easel and review work from the past. Memory has a way of being kind to the past by remembering the good and forgetting the bad. I’m reminded of this when some national malaise consumes my thought. Having lived through the decades of the 1960s and 70s with all the turmoil they had to offer, all I have to do is remind myself of those times to put current events into perspective. This is true of my painting aspirations as well. Comparing past works to current efforts allows me to see progress. It isn’t that the past works were weaker than I thought; it’s that they aren’t as good as I remember. I’m too close to the present to put them into perspective.

A Vibrant Community: Thanksgiving is a good time to remind ourselves of everything we have to be thankful for as pastelists. The medium continues to grow in popularity and the efforts of fellow artists are definitely showing results on a national level. This is due in large part to the untold number of volunteers that tirelessly give of their time by forming societies, organizing educational venues, and mounting exhibitions devoted to the promotion of pastel. This is time spent away from their personal painting and is truly a gift to the community at large. We also need to be thankful to all the manufacturers who continue to expand material offerings, advancing the creative possibilities of pastel. And, a special thanks needs to go to Pastel Journal magazine, under the loving guidance of editor Anne Hevener, for its continued devotion to the medium. All I have to do is think back to the 1970s, when I first became interested in pastel, to be reminded of how far the medium has come.

I hope this Thanksgiving holiday provides you the opportunity to reflect on all you have to be thankful for artistically. I want to a take a moment to thank all of you that follow the Pastel Pointers blog and magazine column. It has been my personal pleasure to work with the F+W Media team to produce them. Here’s to another Thankful Holiday!

Photo by Richard McKinley

Discover more great advice from Richard in a special e-mag collection called, “Painting Pastels en Plein Air,” available to download for only $2.99!


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