Friday, December 11, 2009

Making Magic with Watersoluble Wax Pastels

Making Magic 1, Art Quilt, 8x14
© 2009 Fannie Narte

Insight Into My Process of Working With Watersoluble Wax Pastels

Many of you have sent me e-mails with comments and questions about my process with wax pastels: Where do I begin? What kind of pens do you use? We want more . . .

This post is in response to your requests:


As an artist who prefers to work intuitively, I have difficulty responding to questions asking about my process. Questions such as: Where do you begin? Do you sketch first? I felt bewildered. It felt as if I had the chore of describing how to speak, or how to sing, or how to walk. These things are second nature to me, and trying to explain my process had me digging deep to find the right words, phrases and sentences. It's like sitting in a dark room reaching outward into nothingness to find the door to let some light in.

Isn't it interesting that the answers to difficult questions show up when we need it to help someone else. It's almost like answering the inquisitive questions of innocent children: Why is the moon round? Where does the rain come from?


A long time ago, while working as a Legal Secretary at a law firm in Los Angeles, a well-meaning attorney questioned my future plans. It was clear that she thought I should be more than a secretary. She complimented my talents and said that I was "built" to teach. She was serious; I chuckled at the idea.

Thirty years later, I find that my attorney-friend was a wise teacher. All of my roles since that meeting included some form of teaching: parent, craft classes, dance classes, fitness classes, etc. It warms my heart to share. I only wish words would come easier.


No, I don't sketch first. My process is just the opposite. In drawing, you make an outline of an object and fill in the space with color and render values.

My process begins with a "gesture" drawing, which is the image in this post. As you can see, it's raw and done like child's play. I have an idea of what I want to paint. In this case, it's poinsettias. I don't have an idea of how many flowers I want to paint, or if I want to add other images besides flowers. I just pick a starting point, which is the top flower, and draw the flower. At this point, I decide that I want to add more flowers to fill the entire space. The next three flowers were added.

The colors I choose for each flower is done randomly. The first flower is done in pink and red. The second flower is done in red and salmon. The third flower is done in salmon and brick red. The last flower is done in a dark pink. Yellow is added to certain flowers randomly.

At this point, I look at my drawing and decide if I want to add a background color or if I want to let the colors of the flowers flow into the background and to the edges. I decided to add two shades of green and two shades of blue to the background.


This drawing was done quickly, probably in about fifteen minutes. I don't stress over correctness, and I don't judge the piece. I just play. Each step, each decision leads me to the next step in the process. This part of the process is my exploration phase. It's a time I ask questions such as: I wonder what would happen if I mix these two colors? or Will the blues and greens make a good background color for this piece?

Yes, I could drive myself crazy by second guessing what I've already done. But I don't have enough chocolates to survive such craziness. ;-D

What is the worst that could happen? I could mess up this piece--absolutely. But I will have also learned lessons that will carry me forward to my next piece.

On the other hand, I could be in the process of making magic!


The answers to my questions from the exploration phase will appear in the next phase, my discovery phase. Tomorrow's post will show the progress of this painting after it has been blended with water.

The moon is round so the cow can jump over it, and the rain comes from heavenly angels sitting on puffy white clouds. Hah! Oh, and I am more than a secretary.

Have a great weekend!


Regina said...

great post!
I think you described your process perfectly. I work in much the same way & understand the difficulty in verbalizing & breaking down the steps. I don't usually like to take process photos either so I don't stop the flow of energy going onto the surface.
Thanks for sharing.

Stephanie Pettengell said...

HI Fannie, I am looking forward to tomorrow. Hugs

Debbie said...

Thank you for sharing your process! I loved learning how you make such pretty art! You are a good teacher!

Fannie said...

Hi, Regina. Yes, taking process photos does slow down the creation process, doesn't it? I'm enjoying this WIP project as I'm posting "real time" progress, little snippets at a time, which are done in between my other projects. Thanks for following.

Hugs back to you, Stephanie. Thanks for following.

Thanks for the generous words, Debbie. I appreciate knowing you're enjoying my posts. Thank you.