new section is designed with you in mind. Questions you
have regarding pastel painting or art in general may be
emailed to askMark@pahartists.net.
Michael: I have often been
asked for an “unframed price” on my pastel paintings.
I have been reluctant to offer my paintings without a frame
due to the fragile nature of pastel. I am curious as to whether
or not this is an issue with other pastel artists and how you
handle this request with the galleries you deal with. Maybe
I'm making too much of this but I feel better about sending
off my work in a secure and finished state. I also have come
across many sales reps that don't understand why pastel can't
be permantley fixed so that they can be handled with out smudging.
Thanks for any light you can shed upon these issues.
Mark: Thanks for the good
It's not too unusual for clients to ask for an unframed price on a picture.
Sometimes, it can be a question of style or taste on the part
of the client/purchaser who may wish to suit a particular decor,
or occasionally they are looking for a reduction in overall
I have a hunch that some of the encounters you describe are with clients and
dealers that don't really understand pastel, although they
make think they do.
of why your artworks can't be "fixed" is a bit revealing as
to their actual experience with the medium.
I personally enjoy the responsibility of informing clients
about what they are purchasing, and consider it a nice opportunity
to explain the subtle mysteries of the craft. Artworks of sound
quality will outlive the life of the owner and the artist as
well, and many precautions on the part of the artist are part
of their production.
The client, and in your case the dealers
you mention, need to be aware that framing is not just a
question of presentation with pastel, but also ensures
it's protection and longevity.
In my own case, I'm happy to make any reasonable concessions
to clients who want unframed pieces of my work.
One of the
things some artists do is charge an appropriate handling
and packing fee for taking the frame off and repackaging
the artwork so that it will make it safely to it's destination.
I mark the outside of the packaging with instructions and
any precautions that need to be observed. A good framer
will take it from there.
Mention to the client that once
you've removed the artwork from it's frame and place it
in their hands, you aren't liable for damages, and any
repairs will be charged for. (At this point some clients
discover that the current frame is looking better to them,
and that's fine.)
in one place for a long while, often inures one to their
surroundings. As a result, many artists feel that they have
to "get away" to find inspiration.
This can be costly and not yield the results they are looking
for. As a relative newcomer to the Islands, but one who has
really taken Hawaii to heart, what would you tell artists
here, who are looking for inspiration, to do?
Mark: In my own case, I do what artist's have
always done...rely heavily on the artists who have gone before
me for my inspiration. I read about their lives, and I look
at their works as a whole, because they faced the same problems
we do. They got bored, got stuck, and sometimes ran out of
I read your question, I think of Claude Monet's garden,
right outside his home. Van Gogh likely worked within walking
distance of wherever he was. Certainly, Corot settled in
and spent an enormous amount of time at his lakeside location,
with many variations of the same subject appearing over the
are just examples from the landscape world...doesn't each
branch of painting reveal the same phenomenon? We have
Degas, for lovers of pastel, and his endless ballet studies.
It's safe to gather from this that some of the greatest works
seem to come from very limited visual resources, and some
of the greatest painters gradually narrowed their range of
key? It isn't the location or the subject for these giants
(or for us), it's what they THOUGHT of the location or
subject that matters. That is what I refer to as an artist's "theme"...the
soul of your work. Discovering one's theme(s) is artistic
maturity, gained from working through the problem of asking "what
am I after?" and not letting go until you have some
idea of what you want others to gain from your work.
For Vincent, an old pair of shoes could suffice for a subject.
Van Gogh was emphatically not a skilled painter, as they
were known in his era (and he knew it...he lamented the fact
in his writings). He did, however, have an astonishingly
direct connection to his themes, which is what we are touched
by in his work. We have the same hope, if we are willing
to work for it, that we can transform the everyday into something
When I get stuck, I recall that the great French photographer
Henri Cartier-Bresson (who's work took him all over the world)
stated that he could have created his entire career within
yards of his back door, or words to that effect. That idea
has stayed with me as I look about and wonder what is next.
I realize that while change is great, and variety is wonderful,
we have a whole world right here, and our challenge is to
see what we can do with it.