Patience and Pastel Painting
“Study of Vermeer” (work in progress)
Pastel on Masonite Board
Timothy John-Luke Smith
Patience is definitely a virtue in life. It helps us not to make careless mistakes and patience helps us to be calm when others are impulsive. Remember, between stimulus and your reaction, there is a space. The length of that space or time that you react to the stimulus is up to you.
This need for patience is especially important when painting in pastel. I always tell my students to never get too excited or emotional during the painting progress. The most common instances are when the painting is going very badly or very well.
When there is a mistake our initial instincts are to hurry and fix it, like a leak in a pipe. This accelerated thought process usually makes the mistakes worse because we are running on emotion.
Here is where the patience is most needed. The artist needs to stop, step back, and assess the situation. Often times, I will walk away from the easel, have a cup coffee, and then return to easel. This way I could calmly find solutions to the issue with a clearer mind set. This is the thought process that I want you to have whenever you make a mistake. After you had found the solution, I want you to write it down in a notebook. This way you recorded your solution and it is available if you come across a similar mistake in a future painting.
The second instance where you need patience is the opposite of a mistake. It’s when your painting is going very well. When the painting is flowing, moving along very smoothly; you are excited about how beautiful that it looks. This is often when the instinct to rush the completion of the work comes over us. It is same as when a runner can see the finish line and accelerates too early. They run out of energy and ultimately lose the race.
When the painting is looking amazing and all is clicking and flowing, I want you to recognize that impulse to rush to the finish line. When you do that, step away and slow it down. Write down what you did and how did you get it to flow so well. This way you have a reference to reference to and then recreate this blissful technical occasion.
In conclusion, when things are getting nerve wracking or exciting, step back and assess the situation; make sure that you calmly choose the best decisions rationally and not emotionally.