Frequently Asked Questions
Why is artwork done with pastels called a “painting” instead of a “drawing”?
Drawings are typically made with a point and rely on lines. Paintings are typically made with a brush or other implement that allows for variation of stroke width. Paintings usually rely on changes in color and value as well as line. Pastels are much more like painting than drawing media and pastel “paintings” usually do not look like what most people consider “drawings.”
Do you accept commissions?
Sometimes. If the reference material, (like a photo for a portrait) does not give me enough information to create a great painting, I won’t do it. It also depends on how many other projects I have going on and how soon you need it completed. To find out if a commission is possible, complete the contact form here.
I want to buy a painting, what is the process?
To buy an original artwork:
1) Fill out the contact form here. In your message include the name of the painting you are interested in buying.
2) We will reply to you with the price of the painting (they go up in value) and whether it is available.
3) Make the payment and provide us your shipping details.
4) The painting is shipped and tracking information emailed to you (when tracking is available)
5) You confirm receipt of painting in good condition.
6) Email us a photo of your painting in its new home. (we love seeing this, but it is optional)
How long does a plein air painting take to finish?
Because the light changes rapidly while I am outside plein air painting, I usually have about 2 hours to complete a painting. Sometimes it is less, sometimes a bit more. I have had to stop early because it starts raining and I have been able to continue a large painting on a second day.
Do you ever start a painting en plein air and complete it in the studio?
I do not work on plein air paintings in the studio. This is just my personal preference. Plein air painting feels different to me than studio painting and I approach it differently. I feel that I lose the freshness of plein air if I rework it.
How long have you been painting and how did you get started?
I have been painting for over 30 years now. I began drawing when I was a child, and then used colored pencils and graphite for years, but I began painting in college.
I got started in art because a teacher told me I could not be an artist and not long after that a student said the same thing. So I learned to draw to prove them wrong, but I ended up loving it and continued doing it long after I had proven my point.
Do you always draw your subjects freehand before painting?
I don’t do any kind of drawing other than “freehand.” I never grid or trace or project an image. To me this drains the personality out of art and the process of drawing is not something you can remove from art any more than you can remove the wings from a plane and expect it to fly. Drawing is an essential part of art that allows me to adjust the composition and think visually. Drawing skills also lead to better painting skills, so the act of sketching is crucial.
However, I do not always draw or sketch a subject before painting. Sometimes I just start painting on a blank surface or just sketch a few marks to tell me where I am placing the horizon or a few major shapes. When I think it will help, I will do a detailed sketch.
Do you sell NFTs?
I do not. It just isn’t my thing. I have a degree in computer art and do appreciate it. However, I prefer to feel a brush or pastel in my hand. We spend enough time online these days without adding NFTs into the mix. I prefer to create and experience art in the physical world.
Do you teach online lessons?
I do, but on a limited basis. If you are interested, fill out the email form here. If I have any time opening up, I will email you with details. I will need to see examples of your artwork and have you write a paragraph or two about your goals for lessons before we make a plan.
Do you teach regularly scheduled art classes?
I do not. I teach workshops when I travel, but my schedule for exhibitions and workshops would make it really difficult to teach a daily or weekly class.
What do you think of abstract non-representational art?
I think it is great that people of all skill levels can have fun creating something. Art is a form of communication for me. I have a concept that I want to share with a viewer and I use the vocabulary of painting. I need to have something to share and express it so it is understood. Paintings that don’t communicate anything and are just random don’t mean anything to me. I would much rather look out the window than stare at paint splatters. I am sure there are people who enjoy painting those kinds of things, but it isn’t for me.
Have you always had the talent for drawing and painting?
Talent is a myth. I was only born with the capacity to learn. I certainly did not have any drawing ability before I decided to study and practice. The problem I have with the myth of talent is that it can discourage people who might otherwise try art and find joy in it. An artist doesn’t need to pretend they were born with skills in order to be special. Everyone can learn to draw and paint, but each of us develops their own artistic voice. Just taking the step of creating makes you special.
How long will you keep creating art?
The rest of my life. Art isn’t like other careers. I would do it even if I never sold a painting. It brings me great joy and is a form of meditation.
Is art really something that can be taught, or is it a gift?
Art can absolutely be taught. Anyone can learn the skills to paint and communicate visually. That doesn’t mean everyone will have something interesting to say with their art. Nor does it mean that everyone will progress at the same pace. There are inspiring examples of handicapped people learning to paint holding a brush in their mouth. Why wouldn’t someone without those challenges be able to?
Is drawing really important for painters?
Absolutely. Drawing is not just a stage before painting that must be done. It is a chance to improve your composition and infuse part of yourself into a painting. You also draw with a brush when you are painting, so drawing practice translates directly into better brush handling. If you want to be a better painter, draw more.
Where do you find inspiration for your paintings?
Nature provides plenty of inspirations for many lifetimes. If I ever need to be inspired, I grab my pack and go plein air painting.
Why don’t you paint in oils anymore?
Modern acrylics have improved upon oils so much that there is no advantage to oils. Pastels and watercolors are very different than oils and acrylics and I enjoy painting in them both. Acrylics and oils produce a similar look, but acrylics do it better. I only touch oils now when a student is working in them and needs help.
Why is lightfastness in art materials so important?
If you put time and effort into creating something, why would you NOT want it to last? You might sell it, or give it to a friend, or keep it for your own wall. Even if you aren’t happy with it, you can look back on it to see the improvement in your recent work. There are plenty of lightfast materials available and usually for the same price as ones that fade. The only excuse for buying something like alizarin crimson is that you did not know it fades (now you do). The problem of fugitive pigments is that while artists continue to use them, art suppliers will sell them. This leads to those who don’t know any better buying them and everyone suffers.
Must I buy your pastel book directly from ReidsArt, or can I buy it somewhere like Amazon?
You can buy the book from several online retailers, including Amazon. It will be the same price wherever you buy it. If you buy it directly through ReidsArt, more of the sale price goes toward supporting the artist. If you buy it from another retailer, they take a commission on the sale. Whichever option you choose, we really appreciate your interest in the book and helping make it a success.
I want to purchase a print, but the shopping cart doesn’t match up with the one at the top of my screen. Why?
Our print fulfilment is handled by Pixels.com. They process payment for prints, so the shopping cart is separate from other purchases, such as books, that are direct from ReidsArt.