PDA

View Full Version : why are they called paintings?


zarroc
03-06-2007, 08:48 AM
I have a painting class, and when I told my art teacher that pastels are considered paintings if the pigment covers the whole paper she said that was the most ridiculous thing she'd ever heard. She said that no museum curator would ever call a pastel a painting.

It doesn't make sense to me to call it a painting, because it isn't made with paints. I wanted to convince her that it was a painting because I felt like using pastels in that class. But it made me wonder why everyone at this forum and in pastel books calls them pastel paintings, especially if what my teacher says is true.

Doodlebug1967
03-06-2007, 09:57 AM
American Heritage dictionary defines paint as:

1. A liquid mixture, usually of a solid pigment in a liquid vehicle, used as a decorative or protective coating.
2. The thin dry film formed by such a mixture when applied to a surface.
3. The solid pigment before it is mixed with a vehicle.
4. A cosmetic, such as rouge, that is used to give color to the face; makeup.

In the first definition it says "usually" not always. The 3rd definition is "solid pigment before it's mixed with a vehicle." Pastels vehicle is gum and it dries instead of being liquid. Maybe I'm stretching that one, but that's how I read it.

This has been discussed numerous times on here and I don't think people will ever agree on this subject. But from the things I read before I tend to agree with the notion that if it fills the majority of the surface with pigment, it's a painting, if it consists more of line then it's a drawing. More a matter of style than medium. Besides, artwork is artwork. I don't think it really matters much if you like what you see and the medium makes you happy. I love pastels and can't see myself using anything else to create. Just my 2 cents worth.

Ronda

Kathryn Wilson
03-06-2007, 10:04 AM
I think we use the term painting because we use pastels just like any other paint medium - broad strokes, layering of colors, glazing of colors, mixing of colors.

Your teacher's attitude towards pastels is extremely disturbing - it show a lack of understanding of the medium and is passing along this prejudice towards people who are students.

CM Neidhofer
03-06-2007, 10:14 AM
Teachers, no matter how well educated, are still just human beings who make mistakes and sometimes are wrong about things as well. Pick up a copy of the Pastel Journal sometime and look at the work in it. There isn't anything there referring to pastel work as sketches, or drawings. Unless that was the artist's intent. Might want to introduce your teacher to the publication as well. Seems it missed his/her "must read" list. :p

Christine

Shari
03-06-2007, 10:46 AM
I tend to get a little fired up when people say pastels are not painting. You have to learn and apply the same principles as you do with any medium. You have to understand composition, value, edges, light refraction and so on. The public needs education on this matter.

pastelpalms
03-06-2007, 12:24 PM
When you work to get that value just right, you are a painting.
When you spend countless hours to make that portrait just the way you want it, you are painting.
When you step back form that still life and the reflection on that glass or silver is more than even you expected, you know in your heart, you are painting.

PeggyB
03-06-2007, 12:41 PM
Rhonda gave you good advise as did Christine. Your teacher sounds uninformed to me. I'd never go so far as to say, "no museum curator would ever call a pastel a painting." because just as sure as can be there is some who will say they are paintings.

Just courious, but does he/she consider watercolors to be drawings? That can come in a dry form as well when it is in a pan. How about those that use both pastel and watercolor or just pastel and disolve it with water thus giving it an appearance of gouache? It is still 100% pastel even if the pigments are disolved. I hope this person is worth the money you are paying to be insulted.

It is the responsibility of every pastel painter to educate others about our favorite medium, and you are being given a golden opportunity to do so not only to the teacher, but all the other students in the class as well. However, if this person is this ignorant about pastels, they may not be the best person to be teaching you any medium.

Peggy

bluefish
03-06-2007, 01:25 PM
Ask your 'teacher', what the greatest art museums of the world call 'Degas' pastel 'paintings'?..............'bluefish:cool: '

zarroc
03-06-2007, 01:58 PM
My teacher must know something, because she makes her living as an artist. http://home.comcast.net/~rtcee2/index.html She also has been helpful most of the time.

I don't think she hates pastels, she said that pastelists shouldn't be afraid to call their work paintings because drawings are taken more seriously now than they used to be. Still, she seemed offended by the idea that a pastel could be considered a painting, and she got more upset when I showed her a page from a book explaining why a pastel is a painting. She did let me work with pastels, but she seemed baffled and asked me why I would want to work with pastels. I said I felt like it.
When you work to get that value just right, you are a painting.
When you spend countless hours to make that portrait just the way you want it, you are painting.
When you step back form that still life and the reflection on that glass or silver is more than even you expected, you know in your heart, you are painting.So... does this mean colored pencils are paintings too? It seems like a stretch to say that any medium you enjoy working with is a painting.

Kathryn Wilson
03-06-2007, 01:58 PM
:thumbsup: Good one Bluefish

KA Obee
03-06-2007, 02:59 PM
You know, you can do a sketch in almost any medium. You may be using watercolor or acrylic or oil paints, but when you focus on "line" it's a sketch. The same goes for pastel - I have done many sketches in pastel (and in other mediums), but I have also done many paintings in pastel as well.
I have to say, Bluefish hit it on the head.
KA

Bringer
03-06-2007, 03:12 PM
Hi,

To me, people can even call pastel sticks cocktail sausages.
What I care about is getting the job done.
All in all, what's important is the Art and Art is not the medium, but the result.

Kind regards,

Josť

DAK723
03-06-2007, 03:27 PM
I think people are getting too hung up on words and definitions. If you want to call it painting, fine. If the teacher wants to call it drawing, fine. Why are we making some sort of judgement that "drawing" is a lesser term than "painting"? I have worked in pastels for 25 years and until joining wetcanvas never referred to (or heard anyone) refer to a pastel as a painting. And you know what - who cares what it is called. Now I call some of them paintings. Has anything actually changed?

All I know is that when I sign up to exhibit in a local arts festival, pastels are in the drawing category and oils, acrylics and watercolors are in the painting category. All this means to me is that I have to pay an application fee for both categories. In this case I wish pastels were included as Paintings!

Don

CJMonty
03-06-2007, 06:06 PM
To me a " Drawing" is something that consists mostly of an outline of something and when you fill it in it becomes a painting. Just thought I would put my 2 cents worth in here.

I had certainly heard them called paintings before I joined wet canvas, after all what else would you call them.

CJ :rolleyes:

prettytulips
03-06-2007, 06:52 PM
For me, a painting with pastels involves layering and using the full space as an oil painter would paint on his canvas. You can use pastels for either effect really, a drawing, sketch or painting. I think it's more in the application and how your using the pastel. Some peices just look like a drawing even if you are using pastel. I have never seen pencil work appear like a painting. This is just my opinion...thats all.

PeggyB
03-06-2007, 07:34 PM
I think people are getting too hung up on words and definitions. If you want to call it painting, fine. If the teacher wants to call it drawing, fine. Why are we making some sort of judgement that "drawing" is a lesser term than "painting"? I have worked in pastels for 25 years and until joining wetcanvas never referred to (or heard anyone) refer to a pastel as a painting. And you know what - who cares what it is called. Now I call some of them paintings. Has anything actually changed?

All I know is that when I sign up to exhibit in a local arts festival, pastels are in the drawing category and oils, acrylics and watercolors are in the painting category. All this means to me is that I have to pay an application fee for both categories. In this case I wish pastels were included as Paintings!

Don

What changes it the public preception of the medium because unfortunately drawing is considered a "lesser" category - not a lesser skill, just a lesser category of creative activity. Sometimes along the line of "craft". Contemporary "paintings" sell for far more money than "drawings" do. The public preception is that it takes more time & skill to do a painting than it does a drawing (boy can they be wrong!:lol: ) Therefore, it does matter what your work is called. Not only your pastel paintings (or drawings if that's what they are), but also mine and every other artist who chooses to work in this medium.

I too have used pastels exclusively for 25 years, but about 20 years ago the local societies (few that there were then) began "re-educating" those who run the local art competitions with the understanding that pastels could go into either the painting or drawing category dependent upon how they are applied to the paper (or whatever support one is using). They were asked to allow the artists to decide where they wanted to compete. Pastels may be either paintings or drawing given their application. Now throughout most (not all) of this country, even local art competitions acknowledge the difference and allow the artists to chose their category. If your local groups still relagate pastels only to the drawing category, they are behind the curve.

zarroc, just because someone makes their living as an artist doesn't mean they know everything there is about all mediums or what the current acceptances may be for all mediums. She may be extremely skilled in her medium and general knowledge, and she may be very knowledgeable of her local art scene or national art scen inher medium, but that doesn't mean she knows all there is to know about others. I don't even pretend to know all there is about other mediums, and prior to my pastels I used oils and acrylics for about 15 years. I wouldn't dream of using only my old understanding of either of those mediums and apply them to today's understanding. Art mediums and the making of art isn't a static activitity.

:clap: Way to go Bluefish! :clap: and the same question could be applied to Mary Cassett and many many more old masters who used pastels as well as oils.

Peggy

zarroc
03-06-2007, 07:43 PM
I know there are gaps in my art teacher's knowledge, but some people where saying it's not worth my time to take a her class. My point is that I can still learn something from her, even if it isn't about pastels.

Bringer
03-06-2007, 07:46 PM
Hi again,

Definitions change with time.
Don't make a fuss out of that.
If you think that the classes are worth, then go for it !

Best regards,

Josť

PeggyB
03-06-2007, 07:51 PM
I know there are gaps in my art teacher's knowledge, but some people where saying it's not worth my time to take a her class. My point is that I can still learn something from her, even if it isn't about pastels.

Great attitude, and by all means continue so long as there is something to learn. :) You can always find someone else from which to learn pastels - many of them right here on WC.

Peggy

chewie
03-06-2007, 07:55 PM
peggy, you go, girl! very well said indeedy!

and beyond the un-educated view this 'teacher' handed out, i would be offended that someone would be so judgmental on a medium i was choosing to work in! she may not work in pastel, fine! she may not like pastel paintings either, and that's fine too. there are plenty of things i do not care for, and unless directly asked, i don't say negative things. even asked, i try to be cordial in my reply. but to slam them the way she did is NOT fine.

and who says she really makes her living this way? i know of others who 'make a living at it' and there is no way. have you seen her tax return of this year? just because they say so, doesn't mean it IS so. many like to 'pad' the truth!

zarroc
03-06-2007, 08:15 PM
Well, she is a teacher, so maybe she can't pay all her pills with paintings.

David Patterson
03-06-2007, 08:47 PM
Your teacher's attitude towards pastels is extremely disturbing - it show a lack of understanding of the medium and is passing along this prejudice towards people who are students.
I couldn't agree more with Kathryn...that is a very disturbing statement your teacher made. It's like he/she had no art history training at all.

Whenever I read about the more famous artists that work in pastel, I always see their pastel work called "paintings". These more famous artists include Edgar Degas, Leonardo Da Vinci, Auguste Renoir & James McNeil Whistler.

Clueless, just clueless...and this person is in a position to mold young minds!

David

Kathryn Wilson
03-06-2007, 10:08 PM
Okay, people, zarroc came to us for an opinion - and we have done that. Let's not take it to a personal level.

zarroc, maybe if you had a word with your teacher after class and tried to discuss with her why she has the opinion she has. I think it was inappropriate for her to say that in front of the whole class, so be the classy lady and talk with her in private.

artist_pw
03-06-2007, 10:19 PM
Hi:

I truly don't like to hear of narrow-minded, rigid art instructors who have misconceptions, along with not continuing to be students themselves and take the opportunity to learn from their students.

If you can, please have your teacher visit some of websites that have wonderful pastel work - including this one, IAPS, and all of it's affiated regional societies, and the PSA. There are many wonderful images choose from, and most of them, at least from a webview, can't be discerned as being any particular type of painting medium, particularly between oil, acrylic and pastel.

I am really curious to know what type of art class it is – if it is something like a college credit class, it is sad to find an instructor with this attitude. If it is a continuing education type class with no credit or grade associated, if it were me, I would be disinclined to take another class from that person, not only for the disregard of pastel, but for how you were treated when you stood up for yourself.

Keep your chin up in the class, and I hope your instructor comes around. It sounds like you have a great attitude, and a lot to offer your teacher, too.

CM Neidhofer
03-06-2007, 10:48 PM
So... does this mean colored pencils are paintings too? It seems like a stretch to say that any medium you enjoy working with is a painting.

Even though these two pieces are not pastel, I'm posting them here to show you that yes, even colored pencils are paintings. "Leaves" was was done with water soluble colored pencils and the horse/child done with regular colored pencils. I don't consider either one of these drawings.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/06-Mar-2007/40633-__hr_Leaves.jpg http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/06-Mar-2007/40633-Horse_and_child.jpg

Christine

CindyW
03-06-2007, 11:04 PM
.... she said that pastelists shouldn't be afraid to call their work paintings because drawings are taken more seriously now than they used to be. Still, she seemed offended by the idea that a pastel could be considered a painting, and she got more upset when I showed her a page from a book explaining why a pastel is a painting. She did let me work with pastels, but she seemed baffled and asked me why I would want to work with pastels. I said I felt like it.....

Huh.

Zarroc, my thoughts are always to keep an open mind at all times. To always be an artist with such vision.

Although she may be very helpful and knowledgeable in other ways, this poor teacher is a bit contradictory in her statements on this and much too defensive when you dared question her about it and produced some written words found elsewhere...she is saying one thing and then the opposite, as is written above.
The best thing, which is what you're doing!!,:heart: is to keep open ears along with your eyes and listen to all sides in your creative career. Make choices yourself after your own determinations through your own experiments in art.... as well as hearing and reading many sides of many different issues...become educated and don't boo hiss at every opinion you hear that isn't your view.... just find all sides and feel your way to the best solution/answer/view that sits right with you in your head. This particular issue is such a small issue probably to many on the road of life but NOT TO PASTELISTS. :) We just want to clarify that a pastel painting IS a pastel painting. Nothing more to say bout that. Your teacher can call pastel paintings drawings if she likes, but I'll always call my art paintings no matter who says what.... and like Peggy says, "I'd never go so far as to say, "no museum curator would ever call a pastel a painting." because just as sure as can be there is some who will say they are paintings."
I think that merits some research to find the many curators who do say they are because this would be more proof for this particular teacher, it seems she might need.
Black and white statements just really don't sit well with me. I'm much too gray and in the middle....black and white statements will always be an invitation prove wrong because too many of us creative types don't like to hear those words "never", "can't", and "impossible", especially in the artworld.
Well, hey, Zarroc, anyways, you're on your way to pastel addiction...welcome to the community! and enjoy your pasteling, it's a fantastic way to paint! Woo hoo!! :clap:
Cindy