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Echoes of a Pastel Past

Updated: Sep 26, 2022

Somewhere around the late 1990s, I took a stab at running an art studio and set about making some art. It lasted about five years. Along the way, I exhibited regularly around the state of Florida. I even won serval art awards from local and state competitions. Most of the artwork I created that didn't sell, donate, or give away sits in about three walk-in closets. Amongst the collection sits several pastel and ink drawings, I made. Honestly, I'm not sure what I will do with them all. Let me know if anyone is interested in them or a digital copy.

When I had my studio, I created a few works on commission, but mainly I was entering exhibits. You need tough skin to weather the rejections. Sometimes you put your heart into a piece, thinking you've nailed it, and then the boom drops. (sigh) It still happens these days; it's more immediate with social media. And sometimes, with a bit more brutality than it should be.

The old studio, called the Rizen Sun, was carved out of the lower half of the house. It had a mural and workstations. I couldn't keep it going (sigh). Things changed, and I moved on—however, memories like this pastels surface from time to time.

I used to draw nearly every day when I created these pastels. Pastels were primarily cheap, as well as black India ink. I used the ink to paint over mistakes so I could draw over them again. I remember getting a good deal on Canson's rough papers, which took a lot of the abuse I put it through. I've not drawn anything for years and years. I can't draw for shit these days... (sigh).

In the 15th century Italy, artists were involved in a bonfire of vanities event (falò delle vanità). This purging was the act of burning objects condemned by religious authorities as occasions of sin. Looking at the amount of work I've accumulated over the years, I must be a big sinner. How about having a "Bonfire of the Vanities" sale? If I can't sell them, it goes into the fire—a bonfire to torch the art without a home, which is also a major sin.

I photographed and cleaned them up for their digital debut. I also fixed a few things I never got right the first time—nothing major, just a mark here or there. I wasn't very good at dating my work back then. I remember them making them after college and before I got married. A few I discovered when scanning a stack of old negatives also buried deep in the closet.

Embrace: This pastel one is a bit on the nose in embracing heartbreak. Yes, there is a story behind the drawing; no, I will not tell it. 😏😛 Unfortunately, pastels have rubbed off in this one, and I found some scratches. It was mounted and framed, but not behind glass.

a drawing of two people embracing with broken heart

The Traveler: I made the pastel and ink drawing as a portrait of a girl I knew from college, but it became something else—more of a homage to my inner Traveler. I had just been to Florence, Italy, and planned another trip back there. Plus, I like that the Traveler is looking at something outside the frame. In my mind, he was mesmerized by a beautiful panorama. In contrast, the point of view of the observer stares only at The Traveler. The observer can only see where the Traveler has been.

Anywho... It was mounted on a foam board with a simple metal frame. Like some of my other pastels, the time hasn't been kind. The seem where I taped two sheets of Canson paper together popped up. Also, you can see additional air pockets where the piece has detached from the foam board.

The Final Look: This one has surprisingly held up well over the years, mounted on foam board and in a bare metal frame. It's also a part of the series of artworks I made around the end of a relationship. The face is of no one in particular. It was supposed to reflect that final meeting after everything has been done or said. That very last look before you parted. I'm not sure I succeeded.

A drawing of a person staring at the viewer
The Final Look

The Dono Janus: I had it mounted with a simple black metal frame. Unfortunately, it hasn't survived the ravages of time. I originally made this with two sheets of Canson art papers taped in the back. The seam is visible now and has some air pockets underneath the piece.

I called it The Dono Janus after the god of beginnings and passages — In ancient Roman religion and myth, Janus is the god of beginnings, gates, transitions, time, duality, and doorways. Most of my pastel drawings are about me working through some inner struggle. I was at a crossroads. The studio wasn't working out; however, my day job had some great benefits. I spent so less and less time there and focused on photography. I wasn't sure what the future would hold for me. It turns out it was marriage, a kid, and divorce. Who knew?

Girl in Yellow: I'm not sure who she is; perhaps she is an unconscious collage of various women I've known. I was proud of this one as I drew her without any of my typical drawing helpers. I don't think this made it into a show. This digital copy is from a negative I found. I wonder where she went to—perhaps strolling along Lost Shores of the Underverse.

A drawing of woman in yellow pastel
The Girl In Yellow

Blue Nude: This was inspired by my father, who was inspired by Picasso's Blue Seated Nude. His version hung around for the first few years of my life at my grandparent's house. However, when they passed, it came back to my dad. After that, she was lost to time and tide. I'm sure there's a photograph of it somewhere in stacks. When I do find it, I'll update this blog. My version was loosely based on a spread in a Playboy. I don't remember which issue. It was mounted on foam board, framed, exhibited, and sold! Okay, I gave it away...but in my heart of hearts, I sold it. I made it on various pieces of Canson art papers pieced together.

The Disconnect: Although I never gave it a title when I made it, I decided to call it The Disconnect. It was meant to represent the disconnect you feel when a relationship ends. I'm never good at the end of relationships. I don't think I have the emotional capacity to deal with them. So, I wall myself off from others and deal with it later. Probably not the most healthy way to deal with painful events. Who knew? I still believe it's better to love and lose than never to have loved or been loved. I don't believe in love at first sight anymore. The attraction gets you in the door, but it's who you are inside that keeps you coming back.

"Marriage is spending the rest of your life with someone you want to kill. But not doing it because you'd miss them."

(Be)Hold Her: The pastel is a woman gazing up and reacting to the viewer. Not everyone saw her reaction the same way - dismayed, joyful, worried, indifferent, pleased, etc. Still, it's another lost mounted, and framed pastel scanned before it wandered away.

A drawing of a woman holding her face in pastel
(Be)Hold Her

The Wait: The pastel is a self-portrait of me feeling the burden of waiting in the dark. Sometimes the unknown can be exciting and scary. Also, it can feel like the weight of it all can be challenging. It had been mounted, framed, and made into a few shows. Then it disappeared about ten years ago. I scanned it before it wandered away. It's probably buried somewhere in the Underverse... waiting.

A pastel drawing of a man holding his face.
The Wait

The Final Kiss: I created the Final Kiss also in response to the breakup. It was my way back then to work through emotions. I remember mounting and having it framed. It made it into a few art exhibits, but no one took to it. For me, it summed up everything I felt when the relationship ended. The last time I remember seeing it was in 2012. Shortly after that.. who knows? Maybe it's still in one of the unexplored places of the house. Or perhaps the island of the lost art.

A pastel drawing of two people kissing
The Final Kiss

Ah, the memories...

If you liked my past and present work, you could help support it. You can order prints from the following website. - You can also help to like, subscribe, and share my Instagram and Facebook. You can also share the link from above.

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