A Compelling Medium

Categories: 2023 July-August Issue, Figurative, Genre, Pastel, Portrait, and Thorne, Nori.

With its mix of pigments and powders, pastel preceded all other mediums. The proof is on the walls of caves painted with mineral oxide pigments. Pastel is the only medium for painter and mountaineer Nori Thorne, a longtime collaborator with nature and paint.

From the gritty, finger-staining application to its flexibility and even its fragility, pastel is the mode of choice for Thorne, who finds herself celebrated in a genre often associated with large-format oils or bold acrylics. “We’re really the red-headed step-children of the art world,” she says. “But pastel has been around since we were humans. That’s what’s just so compelling about it.”

Briefly defined as colored, powdered pigments that are bound in stick form, pastel requires a direct connection between the artist and the surface, a physical relationship in which the image under construction can shift in the moment or down the line in ways other paints cannot. “For me it’s the immediacy of it,” Thorne says. “I do a lot of plein air painting. I take my pastels out into the field.”

Read the full article in the July/August 2023 issue.

Waiting to Dance

16” by 16”

“During each Cinco de Mayo, Sedona has a huge celebration with dancers, art, and music. This little folkloric dancer had an attack of stage fright before she went on to perform with her sisters.”

Star Spangled Ponies

16” by 20”

“These paintings depict a Fourth of July parade in the small western town of Dewey, Oklahoma. The whole community comes out to celebrate, and there is a highly anticipated longhorn stampede down Main Street. The two little riders have gussied up their horses and ride very proudly, even though their feet don’t quite reach the stirrups.”