|One of my India pastel PAINTINGS|
Someone I know, who paints beautiful pastels, sold one of her images to a customer, who informed her that he was looking for an opulent frame for it, because it would make it look more like a "real" painting.
In other words, more like an oil painting. In his mind, only an oil is a "real" painting.
I am afraid that although pastels have become more accepted in recent years, there are still many people who know little about art, their understanding of what makes a "proper painting" is coloured by preconceptions about what makes good art. Those preconceptions must somehow have been established in childhood and had been carried with them all their lives. In their minds, the only "proper" paintings are oils. Watercolours perhaps are considered almost as good...but still, they need to be cheaper because they are "easier" to paint.
I find this attitude quite amazing, given that most people today must have had SOME art education...even if it was only rudimentary. I do know that when I was at school, we were expected to learn to draw, and we did a bit of painting. That was the extent of my art education up to the age of 16. But my young Aussie cousins learned far more than I did, having had art history on their curriculum even at age 12.
Many people also place a value on the length of time it takes to produce a painting. They admire difficulty of execution. The more highly detailed a painting, often the more admired...how many of you have heard those dreaded words "so how long did it take you to paint that?" Proof positive that the viewer places a value on the time and difficulty involved. This is something the artist finds hard to avoid, unfortunately.
There should be art education in schools, not just how to paint, but how to appreciate paintings, art history, all sorts. World history could be told through art! People need to place value on elements other than time taken, difficulty of execution, medium used. They need to learn to appreciate uniqueness of vision, originality, emotional content, pure beauty.....so many aspects could be taught and learned. Art is such a valuable part of society...imagine a society without any art in it!!!
People today have access to so much information via the internet, there are hundreds of galleries to visit in person, and there are books galore in libraries. Yet, these extraordinary preconceptions do still exist. I have lost count of the number of people I have come across who sniff at pastels as a medium.
|One of my favourite landscape painters today - a pastel by Richard McKinley|
So, whenever I show my work, I always put up a card which explains what pastels are, how they have been used by Masters of the past, how they are pure pigments, unadulterated by oils which help them to darken - or by the gum tragacanth added to pigments to make watercolours, plus water...which means they fade. Pastels are pure pigments mixed with small quantities of natural binders. They are not made with chemicals or plastics. So in fact, they often have greater longevity and integrity than most other materials in use today.
|A Master of the past....Mary Cassatt|
Some years ago, I produced a series of ballet images. The parents of a girl I painted standing at the barre, really loved my finished piece. They wanted to buy it. When they learned it was a pastel, however, they insisted it was not worth its money, because it was not a "proper painting" and they refused to buy it. They were not prepared to listen to my explanation of pastel as a medium. It was their loss - someone else snapped it up, and they were really upset. So how foolish was that? Their determination that pastels were not "proper" as a medium was unshakeable.
Sadly the world we live in is full of people with unshakeable beliefs, beliefs which are about as solid and permanent as "pie crusts". Wouldn't the world be a better place if we were all more open to the idea of learning and expanding our horizons, using our intelligence, and the amazing resources we have today, to educate ourselves, and shift away from entrenched ideas which may be inaccurate, and are based on nothing more than built-in prejudice and lack of information.