My earliest Plein Air experiences were drawing in the backseat of our family’s red Corvair, driving between our new home in southern California and my grandparents’ farm in Iowa. Drawing was my everything; happy, sad, rejected, filled with joy, amazed by what I was seeing
outside that Corvair’s window every summer, along Route 66, I had to find a way to get it on paper. Things haven’t changed much since I was five. Back then, however, I used crayons or a pencil. I’m still using pencils (better quality!). I have moved on from crayons to my preferred medium, pastels.
I find pastels are the best medium for me to capture the luminosity and the textures of those moments I see as I go about my day. It isn’t much different from when I was a young girl, noticing the small things, the unique patterns or surfaces of everyday items and their special magic.
I remember the magic of walking through Todd Shipyard with my father, to see a ship launching. The steel beams & equipment dwarfed me, while the welding sparks cast amazing light patterns everywhere. This place was why we moved from Iowa, so it had layers of meaning for me then & now. I am still fascinated by construction sites and heavy equipment as a source for my art – the colors, textures, shapes & light are endlessly challenging to me as an artist.
Yet, the human face equally fascinates me. As much as I felt the magic of the shipyard and my father’s drafting toolbox, I loved to sit quietly and observe my mother, aunts, and grandmothers as they worked and talked in each other’s kitchens. One of my grandmothers helped launch me as an artist by taking her with me to all her churchwomen’s meetings. She simply announced, “Becky would be no trouble if she could just sit in the corner with a crayon, a piece of paper and a crust of bread.” To this day, I’m happiest sitting unobtrusively observing people, sketching their portraits, trying to capture that very special expression.