Finding The Way

Statements about the painting process of 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 showing face of Mother Earth

Detail 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