Take a glimpse of the Southwest. Experience the unique majesty of the Rocky Mountains in pastel. An interview with pastel artist, Jan A. Goldman, reveals the secrets of a special art.
LYC: You describe yourself as a plein air pastel artist of the Four Corners Region. Can you explain for our readers what those terms mean? Let’s start with plein air, which means what?
Jan: I do my painting outside, at the site of the scene that I capture in my art. Alternatively, I paint from a reference photograph, which is taken outside at the site of the scene that I capture in my art. In all cases, the site is real, it exists and is not a figment of my wishful thinking.
LYC: Pastel artist?
Jan: I “paint” with pastels. Pastels are pure pigments, similar to a tube of oil paint, which uses oil as the binder, making it liquid in form. Pastels are pure pigments blended with a binder and compressed into a variety of solid shapes. The more binder there is, the harder the pastel; the less binder, the softer the pastel. Artists use a wide variety of pastels from buttery soft to pencil-like firm.
Color is imparted as fine solids on paper. Color intensity is delivered according to the soft-firm range of the pastel and the application method. For example, hard strokes deliver more color than soft strokes do. The type of surface affects color intensity too, as well as how the pastel is maneuvered once it has been applied.
LYC: What is the region you call the Four Corners?
Jan: The states of Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico come together at a point not far from Durango, Colorado, where I live and paint. The region around that point encounters a confluence of mountains, meadows, desert, canyons, alpine forest as well as dry mesas. The vast and varied geography offers uniquely natural beauty that changes with the seasons. I try to capture that uniqueness in my artistry.
LYC: If I photographed the same scene that you painted, what makes your painting art as distinguishable from my snapshot?
Jan: Here’s where we try to define art. The photograph is a technically correct rendition of the real thing. The camera did the work of recreating the image so you can see the scene without being there. The same goes for my art, but I can paint in the feelings, emotions, and intangibles I experienced while seeing the scene, something that the camera cannot possibly capture.
LYC: Say how the medium of pastels helps to capture those intangibles.
Jan: My artistic process consists of building up and reducing layers of color, often to create transparency in the image. The tactile energy of pastels allows me to be bold and gestural with my strokes. My focus continues to be one of exploring and seeing nature from a different perspective, which I can express to viewers through the medium of the pastel.
LYC: What do you hope to achieve with your art?
Jan: My joy as an artist is to transport the viewer into a magnified vision of my natural world, a place where color is often pushed to create fantasy realism. I like to create a vibrancy not often found in nature. And I want to create a bit of the incredible beauty of the region for viewers to take home with them, wherever that is.
Readers can see a slideshow of Jan Goldman pastels right here at Y!CN. A sampling of Jan A. Goldman pastels is shown also on her website. Better yet, come to the Four Corners Region to experience nature’s grandeur in person. You might just encounter Jan Goldman painting the grandeur in pastel in person.