Artist Talk

We would like to give our customers a chance to talk about their art. I am hoping over time to have a nice archive for people to explore the many different facets of pastels.

Dave Thomas
To get things started: Where does your interest in art come from? How did you get started? And how, if any, is it related to your day job?
    I am not sure where my original interest in art began. I have two sisters that are also artistic. One is now a professional watercolorist and the other makes various crafts. Our parents were not artist types at all, one was an accountant and the other bookkeeper. However, they did encourage us to become whatever we wanted to be in life, as long as it made us happy (and provide a good living of course). I started painting my teens. I used charcoals and some cheap pastels. Over the years I have dabbled with other media, but always came back to my roots (though I use quality pastels now, of course). My day job is not as an artist. Hopefully, that is not too obvious. I have a Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology, and I have studied pain, itch and anxiety. I currently work at the National Institutes of Health, where I encourage the development of new scientific fields and medical treatments. Much of my work still focuses on pain and analgesia, however I am also very involved in promoting the use of Virtual Reality (computer generated worlds) for medical purposes. Virtual Reality has a huge potential, and you will be hearing a lot more about it. To some, who view scientists as rigid and data-driven, and artists as freethinking and open minded, my commitment to both art and science might appear unusual. However, science really involves coming up with new ideas and testing them. Art, on the other hand, involves experimentation. What happens when I use these colors together? Does leaving some of the paper exposed look good? Thus, to me, science and art are very similar endeavors, and doing both improves how well I do both. Whereas science and art work well together, making a living and art do not naturally go together. Of course I would love to make suitcases of money for my paintings and gain the approval of everyone. In fact, I do make some money and gain some praise. However, the need for paintings to be profitable does put pressures on the artist to make decision about their art that are less what the artist likes, and more what sells. I don't depend on profit from my art. Does that make my art better art? Probably not, but it does allows me to paint the exactly the way I like to. Plus, I get to keep most of them. They are kind of like my children, after all.  
I must admitt that at first look your images seemed to be about mental states....I would suspect of the figures themselves. Is this how you see them?
    Interesting. When I have named them for shows over the years, I'll often use terms that are related to mental states (puzzled boy, day dreaming), but I never quite thought of it that way. You may be right, though. I don't have a master plan of what I am trying to say. I want the viewer to feel something, or think something. Otherwise, what is the point? Facial expressions and body language are excellent at conveying feeling and emotions. Colors are also. I also am interested in surprising people. I want them to be looking at it, then discover a new way of looking at part of it, that changes their impression. For me, the bottom line is the painting has to be interesting. Something people want to look at. People gaze at cute and pretty, and gawk at shocking and disturbing. I don't want that. But somewhere in the middle lies images that will make people see or feel a little different. But if I could say exactly what that was, it likely would not be worth painting.  
      You can see more of Daves' paintings at his website here.  

Shameless commercial plug:
Since Karl Kelly was nice enough to highlight my art, I want to make some comments about Mount Vision pastels. Karl sent me some free samples a few years ago, and got me hooked. As soon as I rubbed the first one with my finger, I knew they were for me. I guess it was love at first rub. The mass produced pastels I've used seem too dry. Karl's pastels are smooth and creamy. The blend well and cover impressively. They make lots of interesting colors, from subtle shades to real nice bold colors. The red is incredible! So thanks Karl. Don't stop making them.