How long does it take for you to finish a painting?

It may take me days, weeks, or months to finish a painting, depending upon its size and complexity. I usually paint in two-hour increments, due to the intense focus I need while painting. I also have two or three easels with paintings in progress at any given time. I am (admittedly) a relatively slow painter, which has led to my teaching mantra of “Slow is Cool”.

With what medium do you paint?

I mainly use soft pastels. Commonly known as pastels, soft pastels are sticks made from powdered pigments and a binder (something that holds the pigments together). Painting with pastels is as close as one can get to painting with pure color.

Many different surfaces can be used for pastel paintings, from papers made specifically for pastels, to watercolor papers, to printmaking papers. I prefer textured surfaces, papers and boards that are acid-free and have a fine sandpaper-like finish. I either purchase or handmake the textured surfaces I use for painting.

Do you also paint with other media?

Yes, I do. I enjoy the waxy quality of oil pastel, and have executed quite a few paintings over the years in that medium. I also use watercolors and watercolor pencils, usually in conjunction with soft pastels. In addition, I enjoy painting on gold leaf with soft pastels to create very unique effects in special paintings. I call this technique “pastels sull’oro (on gold leaf)”.

Do you use pastel fixative?

Very rarely. Fixative darkens colors and is dangerous to breathe in an enclosed space. Since I paint on a textured surface and frame my finished paintings wisely, I don’t have the need to use fixative except on rare occasions.

Are pastel paintings more delicate than other paintings?

Every original painting of any medium has its special care considerations. Pastel paintings should always be framed under glass or plexiglass and should never be touched or wet. With proper care, pastel paintings are extremely durable and will last indefinitely. All of my work is painted with quality materials on acid-free surfaces to ensure a long life. Also, exhibiting them in the proper environment, framing them wisely, and storing them safely all contribute to their longevity, as with any other original artwork.

What do you use for your drawings?

I am a big fan of drawing materials. I enjoy drawing with charcoal pencils and charcoal. I also like to use graphite, including thicker leads in graphite holders. In addition I like to use pen and ink, with or without an ink wash. Basically, I have rarely met a drawing material that I don’t like. My surface of preference for drawing is smooth, such as Bristol board (for pen and ink), printmaking paper, hot-pressed watercolor paper, non-textured pastel paper, or 2-ply museum board.