Pastel is an ideal medium to capture the unique textures, shapes, and colors of my subjects. Pastel can be a line, contributing calligraphic and gestural quality to form, or it can be a tonal passage of color. Strokes can be thick or thin; passages of color can be narrow or broad with blended or precise contours. It can be applied in a myriad of
ways. My intent is to use this language of line and color to communicate qualities of my subject while maintaining the unique integrity of the medium.


My subjects present color opportunities that the rich color quality of pastel can amplify;color experience is always a significant characteristic of my paintings. My challenge
lies in discerning and then communicating intangible qualities of my subject without allowing the form to dominate.


In the studio I’ve been working on series of square-format and rectangular paintings using flowers, fruits, and vegetables as subjects. They are explorations into concept, composition, abstraction versus realism, and color experience. My aim isn’t to focus on
the flowers and glass vase or fruit and vegetables per se, but rather to use their characteristics to suggest possibilities for handling color, line and shape. My focus is on the process of painting. Within it are the magical moments, the challenges and pleasure of being an artist.


Pastel is a portable medium allowing me to continue in the tradition of artists working directly from a subject. My landscapes are done from observation on site, en plein air.


Working plein air is one of my most satisfying experiences. It’s a luxury to be able to focus on a subject for an extended period, looking but also listening and smelling. This immersion brings a deep understanding of a place, not only of its visual uniqueness but also of its history, culture, and our shared humanity. This experience is profound. I become part of the place, responding to it with my mind and my intuition as I record what is around me. My response to the place produces the artwork. The painting is the
record of my engagement with that place.


Working plein air can be meditative and relaxing. It also can be amusing, enlightening,and once when a bee swarm came too close downright scary. I have met people and learned about their lives, made friends, and in foreign countries been exposed to more of their culture than would have been possible had I not been working en plein air.
February 2020


Mary Padgett