Finding The Way Artist statements by Joel Fletcher

Earth Mother

Pastel painting of Mother Earth by Joel Fletcher.
Earth Mother. Created with Rembrandt pastels on Mi-Teintes paper, 18 x 24 inches.

This piece from 1989 was my first serious attempt at using pastels. By then, my career as an animator and visual effects artist had taken off; accordingly, there was little time left to pursue my personal passion of painting. I was determined to get a new project going and I began work on Earth Mother using acrylic paints, my usual medium. The painting was well underway when I became dissatisfied with the way it was turning out using acrylics so I decided to completely start over with pastels, an entirely new approach.

The subject of the painting depicted a personification of the feminine creative force of nature. I designed a symmetrical composition employing underlying geometric shapes such as triangles to reinforce the mystical aspect of the subject. To further guide the viewer’s eye to the main subject, I decided that the direction of the background tree branches should all radiate from the Earth Mother. Rather than use a living model, I sculpted a small maquette of Earth Mother out of clay. This proved to be helpful as a lighting reference. For the background, I basically made it all up out of my head, designing spontaneously as I went along. It was refreshing to use a new technique, and I loved the convenience of using pastel sticks instead of mixing paints. I utilized an appropriately colored "earth brown" tinted paper as a substrate which gave some harmony to the color scheme as it was allowed to show through in some areas.

Detail of pastel art showing face of Mother Earth.
Close up of Earth Mother.

Overall I was very pleased with the results of the painting. I liked the look that came naturally from using pastels, but since pastels are fragile and smear easily I found it necessary to frame the piece behind glass for protection. Subsequently, I created a few more artworks with pastels; however, I became concerned about the durability of the medium and eventually returned to using traditional paints as my preferred choice of materials.

© 2018 Joel Fletcher

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