“Chalk and water” Plein air chalk pastel and watercolor paintings by Ashland artist, Thomas M. Houston
Houston’s Custom Framing and Fine Art presents the plein air chalk pastels and watercolor paintings by Thomas M. Houston. The pastels are mostly from areas in northern California and southern Oregon while the watercolors are created on the island of Kauai. In Hawaii I set up on the beach and work using ocean water to paint with.
I’ve been working with chalk pastels out doors in the early 80s. I was originally drawn to them for their simplicity and portability in terms of taking them out side with a pad of paper to work. Of course their vibrancy, subtlety and velvety qualities cannot be overstated. I like the directness and immediacy of working with the pastels…it’s very much like an extension of my hand…much more so that working with paint and a brush which I do as well. Frequently I will have a small container of water and a brush to work the pastel with. This basically turns the chalk to liquid – a sort of hybrid water color.
I was taking my pastels with me when we went to Hawaii but after 911 with security being what it is and getting the art supplies(the chalk sticks look rather like bullets in the x-ray machine) and easel through TSA became to much of a bulky hassle so I began using watercolors instead. In fact, I ship my art supplies in a box ahead of us so there is no issue with getting through security now. I don’t even take the easel anymore, rather I set up on the beach and use ocean water to paint with. I love literally putting some of the place into my work. The ocean water, being salty with lots of minerals(and sand) has a very different feel to it than tap water which I like. The watercolors are painted start to finish, rather than any going back in to them once I’m back home in the studio. They are very much an artifact of the moment, as is all of my work, actually. My pastels are a bit of another story…some of them I work on for may days, months or sometimes years. The goal is to have them not look or feel that way.
This current exhibit is a large group of work it’s nearly like having an open studio.