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Mark Price, Winter's Call, no size - FEATURE

Mark Price – Imagination Is Your Most Important Tool!

I remember the day I was going through Instagram (it may have been Facebook?) and I was stopped mid-scroll by an unusual and colourful painting. The painting happened to be by Mark Price. It was an explosion of colour in tiny squares. Its vibrancy and unusual appearance drew me in.

It wasn’t long before I included a Mark Price painting in my Monthly Roundup! Have a look.

Don’t know his work? Check this out!

Mark Price, "Endeavors Home," 2021, mostly Terry Ludwig pastels on Thai gossamer paper panel, 16 x 23 in.
Mark Price, “Endeavors Home,” 2021, mostly Terry Ludwig pastels on Thai gossamer paper panel, 16 x 23 in.

Before I hand the blog over to Mark, here’s a bit about him.

Mark Price Bio

Mark Price, PSA, IAPS-MC, uses materials that have been available since the dawn of humankind. He loves getting out into the great outdoors to paint en plein air and capture first-hand the environmental mood, light, and character of the location. His work reveals the complex and concrete shapes of structures and dramatic landscapes illuminated by strong contrast of light and shadow. See more of his work here.

And now, here’s Mark 😁

*****

History 

I was born in Los Angeles and raised in San Diego. I studied art history at San Diego State University. While in Southern California I took several watercolor and drawing classes in the early 1990s. This is what really sparked my excitement in fine art. 

I’ll admit my first attempts were feeble at best, but nonetheless, I was hooked by the watercolor medium. Ever diligent, I studied and read as many books as possible to improve my paintings. Fast forward many years and with a move to Sarasota, Florida in 2016, I let the tropical winds sweep through my home studio. 

Mark Price, "Regatta at Sarasota Sailing Club," watercolour on 140 gm paper, 16 x 20 in
Mark Price, “Regatta at Sarasota Sailing Club,” watercolour on 140 gm paper, 16 x 20 in

In Sarasota, I took my wife’s suggestion and enrolled in a watercolor painting class with the nationally recognized watercolor artist, Vlad Yeliseyev. I continued to paint and study diligently for the next two years. 

Mark Price, "Casey Key Drawbridge," watercolour on 140 gm paper, 16 x 22 in
Mark Price, “Casey Key Drawbridge,” watercolour on 140 gm paper, 16 x 22 in

An interesting metamorphosis began to happen. 

It was hard to miss all of the color around me. It was so vibrant, alive and everywhere in Florida. Because the watercolor pigments would get absorbed by the paper I felt within a few hours the watercolor painting was losing its vibrancy. I had a few primary colors of pastel sticks in my art tote and began using them to highlight my watercolors. Before long, the watercolor painting began to turn into the underpainting for my pastel painting. As a result, most of the paper was pastel and very little was the original watercolor. 

Mark Price, "Beached Boats at Sunset," pastel on sanded board, 12 x 16 in
Mark Price, “Beached Boats at Sunset,” pastel on sanded board, 12 x 16 in

Around this time I met and then studied pastels in North Port Florida with highly respected pastel artist Barbra Archer-Baldwin, I also took workshops with internationally recognized artists Aline Ordman and Hai-Ou Hou. In 2018 I was juried into my first IAPS show in Tacoma. 

Mark Price, "Longboat Key," pastel on painted panel, done en plein air, 5 x 8 in
Mark Price, “Longboat Key,” pastel on painted panel, done en plein air, 5 x 8 in

My artistic journey has been an exciting and meandering one. My landscapes and figurative pastel paintings try to reflect the beauty and moments of remote, quiet places that invite an intimate connection to nature.

I travelled to Havana, Cuba in Dec 2016 and was left with a large portfolio of urban landscape reference material to draw from for years to come. 

Mark Price, "Havana Side Street," watercolour on 140 gm paper, 16 x 20 in
Mark Price, “Havana Side Street,” watercolour on 140 gm paper, 16 x 20 in
Mark Price, "St. Lazaras Day in Havana," pastels on Thai paper, 16 x 16 in
Mark Price, “St. Lazaras Day in Havana,” pastels on Thai paper, 16 x 16 in

In 2021 I built my own studio just steps from the front door of my house and am currently planting a colorful garden packed with as much color, texture, and personality as possible with the dream of making it a plein air destiny for artists to paint and enjoy.

The highlights of my pastel journey so far have been receiving the IAPS- Master Circle designation and becoming a juried member of the Pastel Society of America. 

Mark Price, "Self Portrait No. 2," 2020, Terry Ludwig pastels on Thai gossamer paper panel, 13 x 16 in.
Mark Price, “Self Portrait No. 2,” 2020, Terry Ludwig pastels on Thai gossamer paper panel, 13 x 16 in.

Inspiration

During my studies, there were two groups that I admired very much, and as it turned out, one group inspired the other. 

The first was the Japanese Woodblock Ukiyo-e style of prints by artists  Katsushika Hokusai, Toshusai Sharaku, and Utagawa Toyoharu. 

The second was the Fauves which included Henri Matisse and André Derain. These fused with the pointillism of Seurat. These artists gave me inspiration and would influence my artistic style in the years to come.

Mark Price, Journey, 2020, Terri Ludwig pastels on Thai gossamer paper panel, 17 x 21in.
Mark Price, “Journey,” 2020, Terri Ludwig pastels on Thai gossamer paper panel, 17 x 21in.

Ukiyo-e contributed to the development of Western art and in particular to the Impressionism art movement. I like the simple woodblock prints in that they reaffirmed to me that they could portray scenes from everyday life without such a concern for detail or accuracy of the painting, but simply for the beauty of the painting itself. Ukiyo-e art also showed a different way to focus on the subject only, eliminating excessive details and complicated backgrounds from my paintings. It also helped me to develop my understanding of colors. 

Needless to say, both these styles have been highly influential in my personal art journey. I enjoy the fact the Fauvists were among some the first of twentieth-century artists to be inspired by non-Western art such as Japanese prints. Andre Derain, also a Fauvist, believed that color should be used to create the expressive and emotional content of a picture. I took this to heart and try to put this in my work as well. 

Mark Price, "Drifting Homeward," 2021, various pastels on Thai gossamer paper panel. 17 x 23 in
Mark Price, “Drifting Homeward,” 2021, various pastels on Thai gossamer paper panel. 17 x 23 in

I have to mention the book, Pastel Innovations by Dawn Emerson. It showed me how versatile the pastel medium could be. When I started to see the quality and level of expert handling of the pastel medium, I knew I was in for a real challenge if I was to advance my new pastel passion. I was ready to take risks in my pastel painting. 

Camille Pissarro gave advice to Matisse once saying, ”Paint what you observe and feel.” I try to keep this quote in mind while painting. 

Mark Price, "Days End," 2019, Terri Ludwig pastels on Thai gossamer panel, 26 x 17 in. This was in the 2019 IAPS web-show.
Mark Price, “Days End,” 2019, Terri Ludwig pastels on Thai gossamer panel, 26 x 17 in. This was in the 2019 IAPS web-show.

The Process

For me, it’s all about the process! I love the process. How do I get from a blank canvas to a finished piece? That’s what excites me. 

I like to use pure pastel color whenever possible. I feel it’s one of the driving forces of my creative process. 

In the winter of 2018, I was experimenting with stencils. I purchased a piece of imported Thai gossamer paper thinking it would make a great stencil. It was a terrible stencil, but when I fixed it to a panel with gesso and began to get creative with it, I found it had some brilliant attributes. The texture was pleasing to me because it created little cells I could fill with pastel and, under the right lighting, it cast a tiny shadow which gives it depth.  

Mark Price, "Waters Edge" in process. Here I’m laying down an underpainting of wet pastel and water.
Mark Price, “Waters Edge” in process. Here I’m laying down an underpainting of wet pastel and water.
Mark Price, "Waters Edge" in progress. Here the paper is now dry and I’m just starting to apply my pastels to the grid pattern.
Mark Price, “Waters Edge” in progress. Here the paper is now dry and I’m just starting to apply my pastels to the grid pattern.
Mark Price, "Waters Edge," 2018, various pastels on Thai gossamer paper panel, 9 x 12 in. Sold. First time exhibiting with this style. Juried into 2018 IAPS exhibition, Tacoma, Washington.
Mark Price, “Waters Edge,” 2018, various pastels on Thai gossamer paper panel, 9 x 12 in. Sold. First time exhibiting with this style. Juried into 2018 IAPS exhibition, Tacoma, Washington.

Most of the time, I’ll start off with a blended underpainting. If I’m not satisfied with the direction the painting is going, I may leave it outside in the rain or snow for several days to get a more loose underpainting. Sometimes it works and sometimes not. When it works, it’s phenomenal.  

When I’m satisfied with the underpainting, I then start to apply pure color to the piece and further refine and develop it as I go. What begins to emerge is a pixelated or cube-like pattern. 

Mark Price, "Afternoon Reflections," progression. Working with a handmade stencil to begin sculpting out a landscape feeling. Not too many details at this point.
Mark Price, “Afternoon Reflections,” progression. Working with a handmade stencil to begin sculpting out a landscape feeling. Not too many details at this point.
Mark Price, "Afternoon Reflections," progression. Here I’m wetting my work in critical ares to reach my desired effect/result
Mark Price, “Afternoon Reflections,” progression. Here I’m wetting my work in critical ares to reach my desired effect/result
Mark Price, "Afternoon Reflections," progression.
Mark Price, “Afternoon Reflections,” progression.
Mark Price, "Afternoon Reflections," 2022, various pastels on Thai gossamer paper panel. 12 x 12 in. Juried into the 2022 IAPS exhibition Albuquerque.
Mark Price, “Afternoon Reflections,” 2022, various pastels on Thai gossamer paper panel. 12 x 12 in. Juried into the 2022 IAPS exhibition Albuquerque.

What I soon found was, from a distance, my style of painting looks like a landscape or figure but as the viewer gets closer the piece begins to look more distorted and abstract. I do believe that if my style can pull the viewer into the piece and engage that person for while, I’ve done well. 

And what an accomplishment it is to engage the viewer, to have them think more about what they’re looking at. Personally, I want to think about a piece of art, not get my art spoon-fed. 

Mark Price, "Winged Cosmos," mostly Henri Roche pastels on Thai gossamer panel. 16 x 23 in. A commissioned piece.
Mark Price, “Winged Cosmos,” mostly Henri Roche pastels on Thai gossamer panel. 16 x 23 in. A commissioned piece.
Mark Price, "Winged Cosmos," in progress.
Mark Price, “Winged Cosmos,” in progress.
Mark Price, "Winged Cosmos," mostly Henri Roche pastels on Thai gossamer panel. 16 x 23 in - detail
Mark Price, “Winged Cosmos,” mostly Henri Roche pastels on Thai gossamer panel. 16 x 23 in – detail

Conclusion 

I can’t emphasize enough the importance of setting goals. For instance, after my first acceptance into the 2018 IAPS exhibition, I had one point and the idea of getting four more seemed impossible. But I set a series of small steps/goals to help me achieve my fifth point and with that, the IAPS Master Circle designation. In 2022, I received my fifth point. Without question an extremely rewarding accomplishment.

Throughout my art journey, I’ve kept this thought in mind: “My imagination is the most important tool I bring to my studio.”

I like to contemplate on a reference photo or idea, waiting until the right images, materials, and textures come together in my creative process. 

I’ve been able to bring together a lifetime of experiences, feelings, and travels and draw from them to fuel my creativity. I’m just very humbled and excited to be able to work on my passion. And have fun doing it!

Mark Price, "Mountain Bliss," 2022, various pastels on Thai gossamer paper panel, 14 x 21 in. From a nighttime rocky mountain idea.
Mark Price, “Mountain Bliss,” 2022, various pastels on Thai gossamer paper panel, 14 x 21 in. From a nighttime rocky mountain idea.

~~~~~

Ohhhh I do love Mark’s work! And how cool to see his process.

What about you? What are your thoughts about Mark’s work? Do you have any questions for him? Be sure to leave us a comment!

And a BIG congratulations to Mark for achieving IAPS-MC status. That’s a lot of hard work and effort…and goal setting!

Until next time,

~ Gail

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Comments

30 thoughts on “Mark Price – Imagination Is Your Most Important Tool!”

  1. Thank you, Gail, for bringing Mark’s work into my life. I am so inspired. I have been working on collaged surfaces. I apply oriental papers over watercolor paintings and then apply pastel…..and I can see the possibilities of going much more abstract.

    1. Ohhh Marion, I’m delighted that you’ve been so inspired by Mark’s work. I loved hearing about your own process and can’t wait to see what you do now! (And please be sure to post some in the IGNITE! membership community!)

    1. Yeah art Mum!!! Look how far your Art Son has come. It’s fantabulous!! Thank you for helping him to discover the pastel possibilities!!

  2. I want to own a piece of your work, more than ever, after seeing much more of it in this article. I loved this year’s IAPS entry. Congratulations on Master Circle award!
    KK

  3. These make my heart flutter! Thank you so much for sharing his work, which is so inspiring, not only visually but his words/images about his painting process and the thoughts and emotions that led him to this point. He is so right about the joy in engaging the viewer enough to draw them in to discover the mystery, beauty and personal connection to a work of art. His becoming a member of the Master Circle is well deserved!

  4. Mark’s work is beyond inspirational. Great choice, Gail, and thank you so much! Congratulations to Mark on his IAPS accomplishments. I can’t wait to see what his future holds.

  5. Just a note to say that I am truly grateful for the work put into this newsletter. The content is always inspiring and helpful in my own journey with pastels. I am always inspired by artists with imaginations like Mark regarding their process and unique applications of art mediums. Thanks Gail for all your work!
    Lynda

    1. Hi Lynda, thank you so much for your appreciation. Knowing that what I do, the effort that it takes, is useful and inspiring, is my reward. Thank you!!

  6. A big wow to the process and its outcome. Together with the enormous talent we have yet another amazing artist.
    And I finally learned something new: years ago I tried to create the grid effect with a weave of burlap. It was a disaster. Good to know about this Thai paper!!! Thanks Gail for bringing the world of Pastel to us.

    1. How interesting that you did some earlier experiments with burlap ….I can imagine that would not have worked out well, being so course. But yes, there’s Thai paper!
      And you are so welcome Ruth 😊

    1. That’s how it’s been for me too Jeri. So it’s a delight to have a collection of Mark’s work and explanation of his process on HowToPastel.Yay!!

  7. Dear Gail,

    Every day when I see your email in in in-box, I feel excitement and joy that I can see and read about my own love of pastel painting through yours and your wonderfully-presented artists and work.

    Your spirit comes through your own love of the artists you highlight.

    Love this site so much.

    Anita L. Beaty

  8. Gail,
    Thanks for sharing Mark’s work with us. His work using the Thai paper grabbed me unlike anything else in a long time. I met him in 2018 in Tacoma at an IAPS Juried show. His piece was not as striking as these. I have ordered some paper and am anxious to give it a try. His use of color is inspiring.

  9. These are stunning!
    One question: how does Mark frame/present these works and does he use any fixative? They look somewhat fragile, but on his website he has a photo of his studio with pieces leaning up against one another.

  10. Thank you, Gail for posting Mark Price’s awesome and imaginative paintings!!! I so look
    forward to your emails. Years ago, when I was into watercolor, I did a small grid like painting.
    I’m overjoyed now to attempt an abstract pastel painting and possibly create a grid.
    Karen Margulis suggested signing up for your newsletter, which I did twice, and have thus
    far, not received one.
    I have been a follower of yours for several years and I greatly appreciate you and your
    work and guest artists.🎨🎨🎨👏👏👏

    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed Mark’s guest post Susan! Interesting that you used the grid idea when you were doing watercolour. Can’t wait to hear how your experiment goes with grid and abstraction.
      Thanks to Karen for the suggestion to sign-up…but you’re already a long-time subscriber of HowToPastel. If you’re having trouble getting them, please email me.
      Thanks Susan!

  11. I’m truly honored that Gail choose me as the featured artist for this months blog. She did terrific job in detailing my artistic journey throughout the years. The pastel medium is such an exciting one and it continues to motivate me to create every day. Gail’s endless energy in the pastel world is much appreciated by this artist! Thanks again, you did a wonderful piece,
    Mark Price PSA, IAPS/MC

  12. Wow! I am always so inspired by the featured artists on your blog! Mark Price’s work takes pastel painting to a different & truly imaginative level! Would love to try something similar!
    My wheels are turning.
    Thank you for what you do, Gail!

    1. Ohhhh Beth, I’m delighted you’ve been inspired by Mark’s imaginative work. (It’s pretty amazing isn’t it?!)
      I can’t wait to see what you get up to!

  13. oh wow Gail, finding this post again after your IAPS 2024 interviews….and how inspirational to read about Mark after having seen his actual artwork at the IAPS 2024 Exhibition in ABQ!!!

    Your work on your blog, your interviews — they all take so much time, and we who benefit from your time certainly thank you MANY MANY TIMES OVER!!! My head is spinning with all the possibilities…..It was wonderful to have met you — even briefly — at this convention. And in spite of the cost and the time and the travel involved to get to IAPS, you’ve helped remind me that it can be the CONNECTIONS made there that are also so valuable. I hope to travel with you someday in future! You are truly a gift to the pastel community.

    1. Hi Paula! Well you sure made my morning!! Your words of appreciation are my reward for the time and effort taken. THANK YOU!!!

      And yes, IAPS is about learning and shopping but most of all, it’s about the people and connecting!! And for that reason, even though it IS costly, this is the reason many of us go back year after year!!

      Look forward to seeing YOU on one of my art retreat adventures!

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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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