I came across the work of Bernadette deCesare a couple of years ago and have featured her pieces twice in my Monthly RoundUp blogs – in Feb 2015 and then a year later. I’m fascinated by every piece I see of hers and so it made complete sense to invite her to guest blog. And here she is!!
If you’re unfamiliar with her work, here’s a taster:
Before handing over the blog to Bernadette deCesare, first a bit about her.
Bernadette deCesare Bio
A self-taught artist working first in oils and acrylics, a pastel class in 2009 changed everything for Bernadette deCesare. Since then she has gone on to win awards in the Pastel Journal’s 100 Competition, first an honourable mention and then in 2016, 2nd place in the Abstract and Non objective category. Her work was accepted into the 28th IAPS Exhibition in 2016 hosted at the Salmagundi Club in NYC. She lives in Wharton NJ where she is a signature member in the Pastel Society of New Jersey. She is also an Associate Member of the Pastel Society of America. You can see more of her work here.
So now, let me hand you over to Bernadette deCesare!
Bernadette deCesare – Visionary Artist
“There are women who were born on the easel…” and I believe I am one of them. My passion for creating has never waivered. I like to call myself a Visionary Artist.
I graduated from Parsons School of Design in New York City. I continued to learn and improve my skills at the Arts Students League, School of Visual Arts and was fortunate to be mentored by many wonderful people in the Arts. My career began in fashion illustration, but I found my success in graphic design and publishing. Then in the 70s and early 80s I traveled around Europe and Mexico and moved quite often.
My husband and I opened our own art studio, Griffin Graphics, in NYC and we started our family. In the mid-nineties I turned to freelance, which allowed me to stay home with our sons. My personal interest, the Tarot, blossomed into an exciting business at this time. Teaching, giving workshops, and restoring an 18th-century home that includes a fantastic studio in Port Jefferson, N.Y., holds loving memories. I was able to return to my painting and discovered storytelling and sharing ideas through my art.
I am basically a self-taught painter and focused in the beginning on the oil and acrylic, which I still love. Around 2009 I took a pastel class at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden in New York and something clicked. I had used oil pastels before, but that is a very different world. Soft pastels were challenging and they felt right. I continued to experiment and explore my possibilities and I fell in love with the pastel medium. I followed up with weekly classes at the Pastel Society of America in New York City and slowly discovered how much I loved this medium.
For years I have called myself a Visionary Artist for my subject matter or style. I have found that the pastel medium allows me to pursue my goals as an artist. I can work fast, revise quickly, enjoy the assortment of textures and the color range is enormous. I enjoy this freedom. My process in working with soft pastel has become a journey of exploration.
My process at times can be unpredictable for many reasons: some papers can not handle wet, some have zero tooth, the grit can be too strong or too smooth, a brand of paper is discontinued unexpectedly, and the costs are challenging. The pastels are soft, hard, smooth or greasy depending on the binder and process. To be honest, it can be confusing until you find the right combinations that work with your painting style.
I have developed a variety of techniques with the pastels, but I believe my artistic signature is clearly present. I have painted almost everyday for many years, with my hands, my heart, or in my planning. My art appears to have a will of its own, but each painting carries her own story.
When the story stops or is weak, I tend to overwork the painting into the garbage. I work intuitively for the most part, which feels like a waking trance. Even if I am working from a photograph, a still life, or the outdoors, I am excited when I see a story emerge. I rarely sketch out my ideas, but I do carry a sketchbook to improve my drawing skills. When I am inspired, I will paint until it is completed. But the paintings stay around the studio so I can evaluate them and do revisions as needed.
I find myself working on several paintings at the same time, which is an old habit. It does get a bit crowded since my studio is usually covered with living and falling flowers. I do enjoy painting flowers and my collection is growing.
My techniques have evolved and changed over the years. I approach my art with this idea: “The Eyes of Realism, but with an Abstract Expressive Heart.”
I like to start from a realistic place and then break it down. I see patterns, shapes, and markings that repeat in many of my paintings. The edges are very important with pastels. Certain color combinations that share edges can create the magic of luminosity.
My strokes are not organized because I tend to be more playful in my approach. And I love the shiny stuff: mica, gold leaf, and iridescent pastels. Texture allows the pastel to grip the surface giving it a strong solid area, which I like to see in my abstracts. Layering creates depth and/or transparency. And “grit is great!”
Pastels are pure color pigments with a binder (the same in any medium.) They offer us such beautiful colors that I find myself exploring unique color combinations. Liquid gesso and pumice really come in handy when my surface weakens, or they are used in creating my own painting surface.
Underpainting is fairly new in my work. I am experimenting with watercolor and acrylic but at this time I have no favorites. Here’s a demonstration:
Keeping my supplies up to date can be annoying and challenging. When I run out of certain colors, tracking the brands can be tricky. Remembering what works is difficult, since I experiment with different paper surfaces and pastel products. My advice: take notes and mark the colors you favor!
“The more I work, the longer the channel stays open, and I do have fun”.
You can contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
WOW!! Hope you enjoyed that ride as much as I did. Bernadette deCesare is one of those artists whose work I know will always wake some emotional response in me, whether to the colour, the design, or/and the story revealed. You never know what’s coming and it’s always an enchanting surprise!
We’d love to hear from you!!! So please leave a comment telling us your favourite piece here. Also feel free to ask Bernadette deCesare questions about her work and process.
Until next time,