Magic in the Medium



I suspect that I am not the only artist who has supplies tucked away either because they were distracted by some new shiny medium or because they became frustrated trying to make that medium act in a way  they wanted and found instead resistance.  That is what had happened to my oil pastels.  I had heard people talking about how much they liked them and even the way they used them sometimes, yet no matter how hard I tried I could not find the magic.

I don’t use the term “magic” loosely.  I look at mediums as inanimate objects that allow artists to see their innermost properties and join the muse and the artist in a creative dervish whirling that results in explosions of colors, forms, movement and sound.  Unable to find that magic in my oil pastels, I had packed them away in container and tucked them into the back corner of a high shelf.

Saturday I found the magic.  While attending a Kansas City Friends of Jung workshop at VALA gallery, the morning session was led by Ken Buch, President of the KCFOJ and teacher and Master Media Artist Zigmunds Priede.  Participants sat at tables and in front of each participant was a large sheet of white paper, a box of 12 Pentel Arts Oil Pastels, and a hard eraser.   Ken began his introduction to the workshop and put slides on the screen with wonderful quotes, still I could not take my eyes off of those sticks of vibrant color.  I turned to a new page in my sketch/notebook and started playing with the color, the longer Ken talked the more color went on the page, the colors danced in front of my eyes, I picked up the eraser and used it to help blend the colors, I put on more color, did more blending, lost in my own color zone.

By the time Zig started his part of the presentation I was hooked on pastels.  I chuckled when Zig pointed out that of all the participants only two had “doodled” throughout Ken’s presentation. With that he gave us his first assignment, start doodling on that big sheet of white paper.  I got off on the wrong foot, with a big dark blue and a big orange something in the upper corner.   Zig told us to keep going and something would come.   I worked and worked on that sheet of paper and all of a sudden I could feel it and see it, images were appearing as I drew lines and circles, added color, blended, added more color, blended. The blue and orange problem had been solved. I was having so much fun, working with pastels was not work but a joyful act. Hooray for Zig for helping me find the magic.  This morning, I resurrected that tucked away box of pesky pastels and spent my studio time today dancing with the muse and finding the magic.


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