PSST: What is your art background? Academic, self-taught, workshops?
BCF: My background is in theatre arts! I studied for the stage at my University and have a BFA in Acting/Directing. I always considered myself “crafty” and even though I didn’t pick up pastels for many years, learned much about color theory, composition, and lighting design in my theatre training. I performed professionally for years, singing and dancing in lots of musicals and am still very active in the theatre scene. I first picked up pastels as a young mother of three after buying a small pastel on etsy.com - the texture appealed to me so I bought a set (I think Nupastels?) and practiced on grocery sack paper. This led me to searching out pastel artists I could study online… mostly through still images and books. I didn’t have a teacher but painted every day - multiple times a day while my kids were napping!
PSST: How do you describe your painting style and color choices? Have you found particular colors that are essential for your paintings?
BCF: I would say I lean into impressionism with plenty of interpretive color and am getting looser and looser as time goes by. I love underpainting in various ways (complementary or local color, depending on the mood I want to create). I’m fairly frugal and don’t think a pastelist needs or has to have every single color available on the market. I mostly rely on warm greens, wonderful blues, yellows, and warm ochres. I live in the desert Southwest of the Texas Panhandle where we have prairie and flat horizons for 360 degrees! These colors are everywhere.
PSST: What is your ‘favorite thing” you use in painting? A special gadget or tool you have discovered or a special technique that you have developed that you would pass on to others?
BCF: My fan brush! I use it in almost every painting. I love the texture it makes in the underpainting (I usually use alcohol). It is wonderful for grasses and trees.
PSST: Is participation with pastel society competitions an important step for an artist?
BCF: I believe so! My first competitions and exhibits were thrilling. It’s wonderful to hang with other artists and meet new friends with similar passions. People often ask me how to know “when they’re ready” - I always say, “you won’t ever know if you don’t try!” And “if you don’t try, the answer is always no.”
PSST: What social media, websites or art-focused groups are you associated with?
In studying skies, sometimes we miss the more simple effects we can create for more dramatic scenes of thunderheads and cumulus clouds.
PSST: Please tell us about your Patreon membership.
BCF: I dipped my toe into filming my studio process for YouTube years ago. It was an on-again-off-again venture and many friends encouraged me to try Patreon as a better platform. It’s a wonderful way to support creation and make it doable for artists providing lessons.
I work on it about 35 hours a week. I have several “tiers” of membership each with its own benefits. My most popular is my “Sapphire” tier which has a new video lesson each Monday (usually between 20-40 minutes long) and additional blog posts throughout the month.
I approach it as a full time job! I don’t have assistants or anyone helping me plan, design, film, edit, do voiceovers, take photographs, and write each lesson. It is a passion project for me to share pastel. I have students from all over the world and it has been a wonderful way to broaden the medium. I am so thankful for my patrons. The income helps me pay for my son’s college tuition, have braces for my younger two children, pay for guitar lessons, etc. Being a working artist is difficult and sales of paintings in my region are sporadic. Patreon is a wonderful platform for artists and creators.