CINDY SADOW GROSSMAN
We’re all just trying to process the world around us.
I’ve always been a searcher. I spent most of my adult life as a musician, vocal teacher, and a singer, but after moving to New Mexico, I needed a creative outlet that felt more meaningful. With the encouragement of my husband in 2012, I picked up a pencil and started to draw under the tutelage of pastel artist, Kathleen Smith. It’s a testament to how well my husband knows me because as I look back, it becomes clear that drawing is in my blood. My father journaled and sketched constantly. My family has his journals and drawings from his time as a WWII POW preserved and archived by my sister, in Manhattan. When I began my own journey with pencil and paper, I sent some of my first sketches to my siblings. Before they understood that they were mine, they mistook them for my father’s. Perhaps I’m channeling him still.
I was ready to experiment with color after the first year. Kathleen’s expertise in pastels influenced my choice in the medium, as well as its inherent purity and accessibility of color and tone. Pastels are made of pure pigment coupled with a binder. Pastel binders can be found in a variety of materials, the consistency of which dictates the hardness of the pastel itself, informing the way the medium is used. The beauty of pastel work is in the layering. The dust that is created is tiny particles of that pure pigment, crystallized. On the surface of the piece, these crystals catch, reflect, and refract light, almost embodying the very life of the subject itself.
I was working on a pastel drawing of my mother shortly after she died in 2016. I remember the moment when I finally saw her within the piece. At last, I captured the light. Pastels mimic nature more than other mediums, and I believe it’s why I use them to portray my own personal renderings of the beautiful, natural, living world. And just like nature, pastel work is fragile – one unwitting swipe of the hand can steal the work of months; yet in a similar vein pastels are also very forgiving. The medium lends itself to blending, smudging, and play, but it requires intention. When pastels forgive in the way that they do, luminosity can be lost. It’s a balance, as is everything, with an outcome that is alive and pure and oh-so delicate.
And when I find it, I’m in flow. The pigment flows and so does time, and before I know it, the sun is setting in my studio, and I’m shocked to look at the clock and see that I’ve been painting for 6 hours. I always feel like I’ve been doing more than just painting. I feel connected, like I’m a part of the picture I’ve created. I find the flow state when I draw and paint, and I think I may have found what I was searching for all those years ago… at least for now.