Laura Pollak. I remember seeing some lovely paintings by her years ago. Very nice. And then…one day…a more abstracted piece appeared on the scene. It was totally unlike her landscapes. Wow! And then a painting appeared that was surely illuminated from within. How? I mean, this is pastel on paper, not a three-dimensional lightbox!

This amazing transformation from landscape artist to a painter who creates light within the painting was mysterious and fascinating. And I’ve been so looking forward to sharing this evolution with you from the artist herself!

Don’t know what I’m talking about? Have a look:

Laura Pollak, "Urn a Place in the Sun," 2015, soft pastel on Canson Mi-Teintes, 23 x 18 in.
Laura Pollak, “Urn a Place in the Sun,” 2015, soft pastel on Canson Mi-Teintes, 23 x 18 in.
Laura Pollak, Inner Fire, 2017, soft pastel, 20 x 16 in. Juried into PSA Enduring Brilliance
Laura Pollak, “Inner Fire,” 2017, soft pastel, 20 x 16 in. Juried into PSA’s exhibition, Enduring Brilliance.

Before we get to Laura and her story, first a bit about her.

Laura Pollak Bio

Laura Pollak is a Signature Member of the Pastel Society of America, Pastel Society of the West Coast, Pastel Society of North Carolina, Southeastern Pastel Society, and a Master Circle Artist with International Association of Pastel Societies. She teaches classes and workshops virtually online and also in person. Laura offers studio visits by appointment. Check out her website for more info!

And now, over to Laura!!


When I began painting years ago, all I wanted was to achieve some semblance of the landscape scene before me (or my photo reference). I was just chasing the light. Now, I make my own light!

Laura Pollak, "Winter’s Glow," 2014, soft pastel on UART, 10 x 8 in. Sold
Laura Pollak, “Winter’s Glow,” 2014, soft pastel on UART, 10 x 8 in. Sold

Where’s my Graphic Design Background?

I’ve always been into art. As a little girl I was constantly drawing and creating something. In school, no surprise, Art was my favorite class. When I went to college, of course I was an Art Major but I have to admit that I got lots of parental pressure to get a ‘career’ that would earn me a living. So I went into advertising design and graphics. For most of my adult life I worked in advertising for some of the largest ad agencies in the world on accounts like General Motors, Kraft, Sears, and Kodak. Then I started my own ad agency and utilized my creative side to develop logos, print ads, and tv commercials.     

When I decided that raising kids was more important than making ads, I began taking watercolor classes. Most people get better with time. I actually got worse! Thicker, muddier, and just downright awful. So much so that my teacher recommended I try pastels which are much more forgiving! YES! I loved them. My first pastel teacher, Addren Doss, is such a talented artist and teacher and has become my mentor and friend.

Laura Pollak, "Garden Party", 2013, soft pastel on Wallis, 20 x 16 in.
Laura Pollak, “Garden Party”, 2013, soft pastel on Wallis, 20 x 16 in.

I knew I had so much to learn so took every workshop I could. I likened it to getting a Ph.D. in pastels… these 3-4 day workshops would feed me so much information to incorporate and store in my brain. Like a semester in college.

But… I kept asking myself, ‘where is my graphic design background?’ It wasn’t showing up in my compositions or paintings.

As I became more relaxed and adept with the medium, I could let that graphic design seep into my paintings. Now I play with value and color and have great fun with design.

But I don’t really like abstracts!

What?! I have never been drawn to them. I need to have some connection to a piece of art and many of the abstract paintings/artists I think of, like Jackson Pollock (no relation) do not draw me in or make an emotional pull. So what happened?

Laura Pollak, "Mom’s Garden," 2016, soft pastel on UART, 10 x 8 in. Sold
Laura Pollak, “Mom’s Garden,” 2016, soft pastel on UART, 10 x 8 in. Sold

Driven to Abstraction

A friend invited me to take a workshop with the brilliant Jen Evenhus and I hesitated. I didn’t want to be an abstract artist! Still, I went and had such fun. The freedom she instilled in us was exhilarating!

Laura Pollak, "Crystal Swirl," 2015, soft pastel on UART, 21 x 15 in. Done in Jen Evenhus’ Workshop.
Laura Pollak, “Crystal Swirl,” 2015, soft pastel on UART, 21 x 15 in. Done in Jen Evenhus’ Workshop.

Then I took another workshop with Debora Stewart and her color sense and ability to teach abstract concepts and design was unrivaled. I was off and running or should I say walking.

Laura Pollak," Intense Heat," 2016, soft pastel on UART, 10 x 8 in. Done in Debora Stewart’s workshop.
Laura Pollak,” Intense Heat,” 2016, soft pastel on UART, 10 x 8 in. Done in Debora Stewart’s workshop.

Looking Down

One day while out for a walk in the neighborhood I was just looking down and saw the cracks in the sidewalk. OH MY, those fissures in the pavement were so glorious.  

Photo of tarred over cracks in the street. Reference for "Core Illumination"
Photo of tarred over cracks in the street. Reference for “Core Illumination”

Part of what we all need to do is really observe and learn to see. Our ‘universal channels’ need to be open. I know… very woo-woo. But if we are too focused on what’s for dinner or getting the kids to school, we miss the amazing gifts in our path. That said, looking down at my ‘path,’ I saw that the pavement had been repaired with tar to smooth out the cracks. The pattern was simple and GLORIOUS! I stood in the middle of the street and took several photos. YAY! Inspiration!

Laura Pollak, "Core Illumination," 2017, soft pastel, 20 x 16 in. Shown at IAPS (Albuquerque), 2017.
Laura Pollak, “Core Illumination,” 2017, soft pastel, 20 x 16 in. Shown at IAPS (Albuquerque), 2017.

Accepting Mistakes

When I went to the easel to paint Core Illumination – the pavement-inspired painting – I had some drips happen during the underpainting that made me panic. I thought, I’ve ruined the painting before I’ve even started! But as I stood back, I thought maybe these could actually add something unexpected to the design. And so I left them, turning those drips into icicles.  I’ve learned to recognize that some booboos can be gifts! 

Planting Lightbulbs

So Core Illumination began a series of happy accidents. I started on a series of paintings that looked as if I had planted a lightbulb in the painting. Instead of having an external source of light, like the sun or a street lamp, I gave it an internal light source. It looked as if there was a Glow coming from inside the painting.

Laura Pollak, "Cast Shadows," 2020, soft pastel on UART, 20 x 16 in. Sold
Laura Pollak, “Cast Shadows,” 2020, soft pastel on UART, 20 x 16 in. Sold

When the Lightbulb went on…

After my first attempt, I tried to recreate this luminescence but not always with success! I had to really study and learn the temperature and value of the color with which I was working.   

I often get the question, ‘Do you use special pastels to create the glow?’. And honestly, I really do not. It’s truly about understanding how light works and ‘wraps’ around an object. It’s also about value and color temperature. Some of these are tough concepts to grasp but once you do… you can create high drama in your paintings.

Laura Pollak, "Behind the Curve," 2020, soft pastel on UART, 20 x 16 in.
Laura Pollak, “Behind the Curve,” 2020, soft pastel on UART, 20 x 16 in.

For instance, when looking at the sun, filtering through the trees, the area closest to that bright point of sun is almost obliterated to our eyes when it is flooded with light. The light envelops those leaves and branches in our eyes and they become translucent and almost invisible. As we look farther away from the sun flare, the fall-off of light is dramatic and becomes darker and darker.  

Laura Pollak, "Spring Azaleas," 2015, soft pastel on UART, 10 x 8 in.
Laura Pollak, “Spring Azaleas,” 2015, soft pastel on UART, 10 x 8 in.

The same holds true when creating the inner lighting on a painting. Many times edges are lost or softened as light comes into our eye. That type of flare in the atmosphere is magical. Also, creating volume and surface texture to draw you in to your focal point is learned by observing how light falls on an object.

Stare with Intent

In a workshop with Lyn Asselta, she would say just sit and look at a tree. Now you’ll catch me staring at an object as if daydreaming. But what I’m doing is trying to understand and file away how the light falls upon leaves, rocks, water… anything and everything!

Laura Pollak, "Loose Bricks," 2015, soft pastel on UART, 19 x 16 in. Sold
Laura Pollak, “Loose Bricks,” 2015, soft pastel on UART, 19 x 16 in. Sold

All Fired Up

Imagine, that you’re standing in front of a fire pit. Your face and hands are warm and aglow. But the side away from the warmth of the fire is cool. That’s the way I think of these paintings. Placing a blazing fire pit right in there to create that illumination while the objects not facing the flames pick up a cool ambient light!

Laura Pollak, "Molten Genesis," 2017, soft pastel on UART, 30 x 24 in. Juried into IAPS
Laura Pollak, “Molten Genesis,” 2017, soft pastel on UART, 30 x 24 in. Juried into IAPS

What Inspires Me?

EVERYTHING! A serving spoon, a pattern on a shirt, a piece of jewelry. Even a Disney Movie – boy those people really understand light! I keep my eyes open for ‘cool stuff’ and maintain a list of ideas on my phone/computer.

I never run out of inspiration. It’s all around us. Remember that every item in your life has a ‘design’ to it. Your chair, your table, your computer. Someone had to think it through, have it manufactured and make it usable. I look for angles, relationships, scale, and movement. Just paying attention to what’s around you will inspire a painting.   

Laura Pollak, "Trillion Cut," 2021, soft pastel on UART, 20 x 16 in. IAPS Master Circle AND Pastel Journal 100
Laura Pollak, “Trillion Cut,” 2021, soft pastel on UART, 20 x 16 in. IAPS Master Circle AND Pastel Journal 100


My younger son, while in high school introduced me to Fractals… the natural phenomenon of scaled repetition, which is mathematical and happens in Nature. Take a look at a pine cone, a fiddlehead fern, a nautilus shell, a pineapple, an artichoke! The design of infinite iterations is all around us!   

Laura Pollak, "Fractal Beads," 2017, soft pastel on Ampersand Board, 7 x 7 in. Private Collection
Laura Pollak, “Fractal Beads,” 2017, soft pastel on Ampersand Board, 7 x 7 in. Private Collection

Jazz Painting and Abstract Music

I only recently learned of a term called Synesthesia.   

The definition: “Synesthesia is a rare sensory trait, experienced by about four percent of the population, in which the stimulation of one sense leads to the stimulation of another.

The most common form is grapheme-color synesthesia, which means letters and numbers – or other symbols, like musical notes – are “seen” as colors.”

I realized, that all my life I’ve had that link between letters, numbers, music, and colors, but never understood that there’s a term for it. So when I hear music, I see color, movement, and light. (I bet you might too!) I try to utilize those senses to influence my art.

Laura Pollak, "Gathering Energy," 2018, soft pastel  on UART, 20 x 16 in. Won First Place in the NC Statewide show. Sold
Laura Pollak, “Gathering Energy,” 2018, soft pastel on UART, 20 x 16 in. Won First Place in the NC Statewide show. Sold

Rhythm and Scale

There is rhythm and ‘scale’ in music that directly translates to art. Just listen to the classical orchestration of The Moldau by the composer Smetana…. The deep purples of the undercurrent of the running River create the foundation (underpainting) for the higher key (lighter blues and greens) of the melodies. The movement and contrast all create a perfect ‘canvas’ for a piece of art.   

Laura Pollak, "Quarantined," 2020, soft pastel on UART, 20 x 16 in.
Laura Pollak, “Quarantined,” 2020, soft pastel on UART, 20 x 16 in.


I love to create small surprises in each work of art. It’s wonderful to see a painting from across the room that captures your attention through contrast and drama. But as the viewer comes in closer, and closer there’s always more to discover! Then there’s a tiny ‘gem’ that you didn’t see from 10 feet away that just delights you! Like ‘finding Waldo!’ It’s so much fun to include that in a painting… just for entertainment!

Laura Pollak, "Emeralds," 2019, soft pastel on UART, 20 x 16 in. Juried into IAPS. (It has  a little surprise of small red dot in outer places and fun to find!) Won top prize in BOLD BRUSH.
Laura Pollak, “Emeralds,” 2019, soft pastel on UART, 20 x 16 in. Juried into IAPS. (It has a little surprise of small red dot in outer places and fun to find!) Won top prize in BOLD BRUSH.


I really feel that Abstract Art is like a good work of Fiction. Some aspects of reality, intermingled with imagination, where the audience finishes the story.


I try hard to set aside time to ask ‘What If?’ and quietly sit at a table and try different combinations of colors, materials, strokes, without regard to the outcome. Almost like going into a chemistry lab and experimenting as if I were a Mad Scientist!

Playtime in the Studio

‘There are no failures just more information.’ I tell students this in my classes. It’s a safe place to fail. Always ask yourself, ‘What did I learn?’. Even in an awful attempt of a painting, there’s something we can take away. And if it’s ‘What makes MUD’ then you’ve learned something! I convey to students that I cannot promise you that you’ll make a great painting but I can promise you that I’ll give you the tools to make a great painting! Then, I just say, PAINT LIKE YOUR HAIR’S ON FIRE. The more you do, the better you get!

Laura Pollak, "Reflections of Greensboro," 2017, soft pastel on UART, 10 x 8 in. Sold
Laura Pollak, “Reflections of Greensboro,” 2017, soft pastel on UART, 10 x 8 in. Sold

Keep the lights on in your Studio

PAINT PAINT PAINT PAINT. There really are no shortcuts. There are some tips and techniques that can push you along on your journey, but what you practice and discover while actually painting is what you will retain and absorb. These become embedded in your art and emerge as your personal style.

So even though my personal lightbulb is sometimes ‘dim’ and sometimes ‘bright’ I always like to ‘Plant a Lightbulb’ in every painting and get the GLOW!

Laura Pollak, "Rushing Home," 2019, soft pastel on UART, 20 x 16  in. Accepted into PSA Enduring Brilliance
Laura Pollak, “Rushing Home,” 2019, soft pastel on UART, 20 x 16 in. Accepted into PSA Enduring Brilliance
Laura Pollak, "Open to the Universe," 2021, soft pastel on Ampersand Multi Media Board, and UART, 16 x 20 in. 3-Dimensional Pastel. First Place in the Pastel Society of the West coast International Show division of Experimental and Contemporary.
Laura Pollak, “Open to the Universe,” 2021, soft pastel on Ampersand Multi Media Board, and UART, 16 x 20 in. 3-Dimensional Pastel. First Place in the Pastel Society of the West coast International Show division of Experimental and Contemporary.


Whoa! Kinda blows your mind doesn’t it?! The incredible feeling of illumination coming from within the painting reminds me of a painter like George de la Tour.

Laura Pollak and I would love to hear your thoughts about her work and words. Do you have any questions for Laura? Be sure to leave them in the comments!!

We look forward to hearing from you 😁

Until next time…

~ Gail

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111 thoughts on “Laura Pollak On Planting Lightbulbs!”

  1. Wow! I am blown away by Laura’s work. And that was the most interesting article. My question? What music do you listen to while painting?!

    1. Hi Lisa! I LOVE classical music so anything lyrical like Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Smetana. If I’m wound tight I’ll listen to Enya. If my brain won’t stop chattering things like ‘don’t mess this up’ then I’ll actually put Netflix on. I’m not really watching but more listening. Why you ask???? I cannot hear the Negative Nancy in my head when someone else is talking! LOL.

    2. I am just captivated by this article! Thank s Gail! Just reading about the interplay of values and color temperature to achieve the bold accents of light, are so inspiring and beautiful! I especially enjoyed reading about your inspiration that was inspired by the crack in the sidewalk and nature. I am just curious is much of your work approached by an intuitive process.
      Thank you so much,

  2. I’ve admired Laura’s work ever since I first discovered it several years ago. I often paint abstractly from close observation—patterns in tree bark, sparkles in a rock—but I’ve not yet been able to create light like she does. She inspires me to keep trying. I would love to take a workshop with her one day.

    1. You are on your way Marcia! And now, look at how Laura uses value, colour temperature, and colour intensity. And then keep an eye open for workshops! (You might think of subscribing to her newsletter.)

    2. Hi Marcia! Would LOVE TO HAVE YOU IN A WORKSHOP! It’s such fun when ‘the lightbulb goes on!’ Forgive the corny pun. But when we understand how values and color temp interact you can do ANYTHING!!!!

      If you sign up on my website for my newsletter you’ll be among the first to know when I post a new workshop!

  3. Laura, I love your paintings. They are abstract but they feel very much within the realm of observable reality! The internal light is captivating and feels very much based in reality even with the non-objective forms. Bravo!

  4. I was only familiar with Laura Pollak’s abstracts – I didn’t know she did any landscape work (I’m a newer pastelist) but I love the abstracts (and I’m not usually an abstract fan), they have such an inner glow – whether it’s jewels or cracks in sidewalks! Thank you for sharing some of your journey.

    1. Lori, I’m happy to have introduced you to Laura’s earlier work as I think it’s revealing when we see an artist’s progress – it shows us that if we keep exploring and being open to possibility that amazing things can emerge!!

    2. Many thanks Lori O! I love doing both landscape and abstracts but more and more am finding the abstracts so expressive and freeing. I’m trying each day to take these two separate paths and marry them. Quite a trick for me.

  5. Thank you Gail and Laura for this blog. I love your Artwork Laura! The colours and contrast are amazing!
    You are very talented and very connected with your Art. You have many accomplishments behind you and no doubt, many more ahead of you. Do what you love and love what you do!
    All the best to you in the future! 😁😁😁😁😁

    1. What a very kind wish Ed! And my immense gratitude to Gail for this lovely opportunity to share these works and philosophies! Such a gift that Gail brings our wonderful pastel community! THANK YOU!

  6. This was wonderful. I have had a personal struggle with many of the same things. I try to maintain a balance between abstract and representation, a little of both in my pastels and oils.

    1. So glad to hear you can relate David. And yes, the balance…And we need to do what we are driven/love to do rather than what we think we should do or what we think others expect us to do.

    2. Hi David… that balance is so tricky! One of the workshops I teach is ‘Abstracting the Landscape’ and I personally find it really tough. My goal is to bring my landscapes closer to my abstracts. For me it’s like getting out of an old wagon wheel rut… really hard to make a new path! But I’m not giving up! Each time gets a bit easier!

  7. Laura Pollak’s work is mind blowing and inspirational. It’s just what I need to start again with my lovely pastels. Got bogged down! Thank you!

  8. I’ve been following Laura for a long time, and also took a zoom class with her through the Southeastern Pastel Society. I love her luminescent paintings as well as her landscapes. I created copies of two of her abstract paintings, trying to emulate that glow from within… A fun experience!! I look forward to seeing each of her works going forward. Great blog Gail and Laura!!

  9. Laura, your work is amazing! i have a similar story but I am not where you arena your pastels. I was a Design Director in the textile field and owned my own decorative dome fabric business. I know Greensboro very well . My husband is from there. I have taken from Lynn Asset, Deborah Stewart and Jen Evenhaus. I started working in pastels about 2016. Abstraction is my ” go to” style and I LOVE color. It is the freedom which appeals to me after so many years of thinking repeating patterns. I would love to talk with you!

    1. Hi Ronnie! [sent you an email]. How COOL that we had such similar paths! I’d love to see your textile designs. I bet they’re phenomenal! I”m sure they would translate to great paintings!

  10. Oh my you just made my day! And weekend, too! I am an acrylic artist, mostly abstracts. I loved Laura’s work with sunlight and shadows and ask myself if I could recreate that with acrylics. I’m surely going to try. This work is truly inspirational and thank you for sharing.

    1. Hi Donna! The principles are EXACTLY THE SAME! In fact I’ve had acrylic ARTISTS in my workshops that have had great success! When we learn value, and color temp the world is open to us! We can make that ‘GLOW’!

  11. WOW! Extremely enlightening and inspirational. I’ve never really been attracted to abstracts….until Laura came along with hers. Powerful color is what attracted me to pastels in the first place…..but she’s knows how to smack you upside the head with it…..AND keep your attention…..! Kudos to Laura…..
    (I’ve always loved her more traditional work as well…!!)
    Thanks to you both….

    1. Hah hah Curtis! A good slap up the side of the head can be a good thing once in a while…as you’ve just proved 😁😜 I’m happy to hear Laura’s work has opened your eyes to the fabulous possibilities of abstracted work!!

    2. Hi Curtis! I’m happy to ‘smack you upside the head’ as long as no one gets hurt! LOL. [you know I”m a huge fan of your works as well!]. I keep trying to tone down the colors but to no avail…. They simply want to be bright! LOL

  12. I have the pleasure of knowing the lovely and very generous Laura. Her talent is amazing..as is her enthusiasm for exploring and teaching. I am so happy to see her extraordinary work being recognized in the pastel “community”.

  13. I absolutely love Laura’s work. Her use of colour and temperature to create light and shadow resonates with primeval centres in my brain. Thanks for bringing this wonderful artist to your blog.

  14. Thanks so much, Gail, for having Laura provide this issue’s blog! Such amazing works….I truly love how she creates that “internal lightbulb” effect……I would love to learn how to create such art, but I’m afraid that if I look too long at hers, and attempt to use some of what I perceive to be her techniques, that they’re so unique that I’ll just unintentionally copy them too much….I think my favorite of the ones pictured, though, is “Rushing Home” — it’s abstract and yet looks enough like a landscape to really resonate with me. But many of her other pieces are just so full of color and light — what’s not to like!! Somewhere in my reference photos are a couple of sidewalk photos that I think I’ll take the trouble to dig out now. Thx again!

    1. Ahhhhh Paula, I hear what you’re saying! I think though that if you understand Laura’s techniques, that you understand how she creates that internal light effect, you can bring those techniques to your own subjects and create your own style with them.
      Thanks for sharing your fav…I agree and just HAD to include it!!
      Now, go find those reference photos. I think I have some like that too 😁

    2. You know Paula, I often quietly try to reverse engineer paintings from my favorite artists, so I can understand what they’ve done and then I can go forth and apply the concepts to my own vision. Perhaps you give that a try?

      Isn’t it funny how there truly is inspiration all around us… from the sidewalk to the sky?

  15. Gail, thanks so much to both you and Laura. She’s had such an insightful artistic journey and is so kind to share some of it with us. Sincerely, Beverly Carden Amundson

  16. What a great find today! I just got some inspiration going and a great reminder that training your eye to see different and deep are key. Thanks, I loved looking at your work and thoughts behind it

    1. Ahhh Linda that’s so good to hear! And thank you for pulling out that all important nugget, that as artists, it’s how we see differently and deeply that allows us to reflect the world back to a viewer in impactful and unexpected ways!

    2. Hi Linda! Remember the last time you were looking for a good deal on a car, or a house in a particular neighborhood? Well, looking for inspiration is sort of the same thing…. You ‘tune in’ to that and all of a sudden you notice things you overlooked before. What happens when your ‘channels are open’ is that a flood of ideas comes to you very quickly. Be sure to have a place to write them down!


  17. Fantastic! Inspiring! I want to be on an island that doesn’t receive any of the past/present information so prevalent currently. . . to have the undivided attention to learn how to apply my pastels in such a glorious manner.

    1. ohhhh Dawn, uninterrupted time can make such a difference in our work – to learn and then implement!! Tell us more about your comment about not receiving “any of the past/present information so prevalent currently” – are you referring to the art world or the global situations?

    2. HI Dawn!

      So glad this ignited some inspiration. Sometimes we just need a new point of view to knock us into a new groove.

      Hoping that you can take even 30 min in your studio and ‘play’ to make things happen.


    1. It’s incredible and eye-opening isn’t it Carol?! And that’s certainly my intent bringing guests to HowToPastel – to showcase the versatility of the soft pastel medium and the magic that some artists work with it!!

      1. Gail, your unique forum here opens the door for so many of us to peer into the worlds of many artists. I loved your recent interview with Albert Handell. So much valuable information that you gather here and share. Thank you for this gem of artistic inspiration and thank you for letting me be part of it!

        1. Thanks so much Laura – I sooooo LOVE bringing artists into the HowToPastel world to share their knowledge, journey, and artwork with the world. And I’m so glad you are now part of it!!

    2. Hi Carol and MANY THANKS! Sort of like Edison, who had thousands of failures and tests before he found his ‘lightbulb’ I too have stacks of failed and abandoned paintings. So many of my successful paintings were based on happy accidents! LOL

      1. Laura I’m so glad you’ve brought this to the fore, this reminder that we often get to success through many failures, or shall we say, learning experiments!

  18. Hello Gail
    I’m so glad you invite Laura Pollack on your amazing blog. I discovered her work on Youtube some weeks ago and watched twice a demo where she offers really extremely interesting practice and state of mind.
    Her work on painting glow is exciting.
    By the way, Gail, your January 2022 article : Set goals. Make Your Art Happen ! has changed my life. Honestly. It’s a miracle. I was ready for your precious advice. I’m now at my fourth set of goals. I started in January. Not only do my goals improve my regular painting and drawing practice, but I succeed in extending my newly acquired discipline to other spheres of interest or duties in my life. God bless you, Gail. God bless you. Sorry for my exotic English. Hope you understand me.

    1. Dear Maïmouna, thank you for your appreciative comment regarding Laura’s contribution to the HowToPastel blog and to the pastel world in general.
      And oh my goodness, I’m over the moon hearing about the impact my blog on setting goals had on you. Brava my friend!!! 🎉 🤩
      And I completely understand you your English – no apology needed!

      1. Thank you Laura, for taking the time to leave your reaction to my post. I feel honored. You have become one of the masters I try to learn from.

  19. Hi Laura
    When I first saw your paintings I was convinced you were a geologist…….have a look what rocks look like when cut so thin light passes through them and viewed under a microscope. GOOGLE thin section olivine………the second order colours are so so similar to some of your bright pastels, then try thin section calcite and see the range of third order colours similar to some of your other abstracts. I love love love them all!

    1. Ohhh trust Paul to bring in the geologist perspective and YES, I completely see that! Thanks Paul.

      I’ve gone ahead and googled and you can see images of thin section olivine HERE And thin section calcite HERE. (Hoping those work)

    2. Thanks so much Paul! After my last trip to IAPS hubby and I did a road trip through the southwest. We ended up in Salida Colorado and in this tiny town was a most amazing ‘Rock Shop’. I stayed in there for hours. I’d never heard of labradorite. OH MY what formations and colors. It has inspired many a painting! I love the ‘thin section olivine and calcite. Now I have new inspiration! THANK YOU!!!!

  20. Hi Gail,
    This article is very thought provoking. Her background and progression to pastels and then to abstract pastels is interesting and her colors are amazing. Also, some excellent tips on creating the ‘glow’ and on developing as a pastel artist.
    Thank you for sending this.

    1. I personally LOVE hearing about an artist’s journey which so often is not a straight line. I think it gives us all inspiration and courage to continue exploring and painting and moving forward as we find the deep strength of our own voice. I’m so glad you’ve enjoyed hearing about Laura’s journey and her tips Joy. Let us know (especially in the IGNITE! Community!) how it shows up in your work. Maybe this can become another Mini-Challenge!

  21. I have been fortunate and privileged to have taken a workshop from Laura in her studio. She is amazing and since the first time I ever saw her work it was about 2 years before I had the opportunity for that workshop. Her other paintings are full of life and color as she is, exuberant and fun, a very good teacher and I can’t wait to take another in person class from her again!

    1. Thanks so very much Angela! It’s like magic when that light bulb seems to turn on in a painting! the first time it happened [by accident of course] was in Core Illumination. I was working on it close up and then stood back and gasped! I didn’t realize what had transpired while working at the easel. Then I knew I had to explore it further!

  22. Thank you Gail for such a wonderfully interesting “talk” with Laura. I loved hearing her thoughts while creating some of her very well known pieces. It is magical that we all use the same supplies but our journeys are so singular. Even tho i consider Laura a friend, it is a joy to get to read her story and much gratitude for sharing it with us. I was diagnosed with synesthesia many years ago, Laura, mine does not deal with music at all so this was another interesting tidbit you shared. again kudos to you both.

    1. Thanks for commenting Jeri! And yes, it is fascinating how we all use the same materials and arrive in such different places! I’m glad to know you learnt more about your friend and wonderful artist 😁

  23. Thank you Gail for that little nudge to remember to read Laura’s article! Absolutely love the light, and forms that appear, definitely jewels for the senses. I too went geologic in my connection, the light like molten lava, the earth lit from within. I see the same quality of light in your landscapes, did that come after?

  24. What a solid sense of composition Laura has in these abstract paintings as well – not something you see in a lot of abstract work. Some of these are very architectural — reminds me of Frank Gehry’s designs for the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, or the Bilbao Guggenheim, or the spiral staircase inside the Art Gallery of Ontario. Colour, value, light, temperature AND composition come together here to spectacular effect — her work just took off on all fronts after this discovery of the crack in the sidewalk! Thanks for this enlightening read!

    1. Thanks Louise! I love the comparison to Frank Gehry’s work as I immediately saw. his work in those hard edged curves in Laura’s work. And yeah – yay for the sidewalk crack epiphany!

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Gail Sibley

Artist. Blogger. Teacher.

My love of pastel and the enjoyment I receive from teaching about pastel inspired the creation of this blog. It has tips, reviews, some opinions:), and all manner of information regarding their use through the years – old and new. Please enjoy!

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