There is no set pattern to work, sometimes I spend a lot of time looking and thinking, at other times there are bursts of intensive activity, or long periods trying to make something work
Matin Goold PS on the high standard of work in The Pastel Society Annual Exhibition 2021 and why buyers can feel confident in buying quality art from the exhibition
You and The Pastel Society
What does The Pastel Society mean to you?
In a profession that can at times feel quite isolating it is a huge support to belong to a forum and exhibiting platform that brings together genuine career artists who share a common interest in the potential of dry media.
Why should artists want to exhibit with the Society?
The annual exhibition tests an artist’s work alongside a high standard presentation, it forces us to be honest with ourselves about how we match up and should motivate us to push our work further. This is a valuable and healthy inducement bearing in mind that over time artists are prone to developing something of a fragile ego!
Why should people want to buy art from The Pastel Society?
Recent years have seen a huge proliferation of online platforms and web sites for selling art; many artists now choose to self-promote through social media.
But how does the buyer navigate through all these possibilities and know the true worth of what they are buying?
Society exhibitions only show artworks that have passed a rigorous selection process, these are brought together in one place allowing the buyer to compare and consider.
Past or present, which artist from The Pastel Society do you most admire?
It is impossible to choose one artist; for me, the diversity and scope is the biggest inspiration. Each annual exhibition has its own character and highlights.
Last year I was particularly impressed by the atmospheric light of Norma Stephenson’s works, this year I am very attracted to Janine Baldwin’s landscapes with their spare colouration and feeling for drawn surface marks.
What is your favourite work in this year’s exhibition?
Society and academy exhibitions are often thought of as being too inward-looking and not selecting enough non-member work, this is definitely not the case in this exhibition with its especially strong representation of non-members such as Ann Dangerfield, Polly Dutton, Emma Fitzpatrick and Andy Thornley; I especially like Susie Prangnell’s ‘Dance of the Rebel’ for its adventure and energy.
Susie Prangnell Dance of the Rebel £540
What brands make up your palette?
I really like the superb colour range of Unison Pastels but my works in this year's exhibition have been made using Derwent Drawing Pencils, unlike most colour pencils these have a lovely soft waxy quality that enables rich textural overlaying.
Do you frame your own work?
I get the frames made up and set the works in myself, I use Old Barn Framing in Sherborne, Dorset.
What is your favourite art supplies store?
You, Your Work and Your Studio
What gallery did you first sell work at?
My first major sale was at The Warwick Arts Trust in Pimlico, London in 1984. As a recent graduate, it was a great opportunity to exhibit alongside artists such as John Hoyland and Albert Irvin.
Where do you produce your best work? Do you work en plein air and finish in the studio?
The starting point is making drawings on location; sketchbook work is not only a crucial stage but perhaps the side of work I enjoy the most for its spontaneity and directness. I then refer to my sketchbooks for larger studio work.
Do you have any rituals or routines when preparing and starting a painting?
There is no set pattern to work, sometimes I spend a lot of time looking and thinking, at other times there are bursts of intensive activity, or long periods trying to make something work. I probably ruin much more than I resolve because once I have achieved something I try to go further; I never want to fall into formulaic or repetitive work.
Where is your studio and what’s it like?
My studio is in a rural location on the Dorset Coast; the horizon line of the sea constantly reminds me of journey and possibility. I keep boxes of photographs and sketchbooks from travels over the years, and there are several books such as Turner paintings and Freya Stark travel writings lying around.
What advice would you give a young artist starting out or wanting to join the Society?
Make regular visits to the major collections such as The National Gallery so that you know what great art really looks like, humble yourself in front of these highest benchmarks. Find a mentor you respect. For artists wanting to join the Society, put forward your best work in the open exhibitions so that members can really see what you can do; resist the temptation to hold the best work back waiting for some ‘golden opportunity’ to appear.
What do you know now that you wish you’d known at the start of your career?
To make the fullest possible use of the opportunities that arise while the chance is there.
'Reflections from the Artist' is an ongoing series of reflection, advice from and insight into the practice of artists who exhibit at Mall Galleries.
Next Up... Cheryl Culver PPPS RBA
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