Category: In The Artist's Studio

In the Garden with Alice Pritchard: An Interview

Alice Pritchard in her garden

Q:  “Where do you draw your inspiration from?”

A: “I draw my inspiration from an ongoing interest in art history and from life experiences. For the last 30 years, I have lived out in the country. And just from looking out my window at the beautiful landscapes, I can see the sky and the fields, the barns and the flowers, I feel inspired. A couple of my neighbors raise horses and cows, and sheep and even keep us supplied with fresh eggs! On the other hand, I spent a good part of my early life in the city. Just about every weekend my family and I would visit the galleries and museums in Washington and Baltimore.”

Alice Pritchard “Near and Far” Pastel on Canvas

Q: “Recently a lot of your images involve cropping. What does this add to the composition?”

A: “Well I think it gives it a contemporary outlook. It seems to draw the viewer in because the viewer has to kind of complete the image. It abstracts the composition by simplifying it. Additionally, the closeness can create a sense of intimacy.”

Q: “In the beginning, your compositions were landscapes & bouquets at a distance. As your practice matured, it feels like you have gradually zoomed in on the subject matter, sometimes even cropping the image. How do you feel your work has evolved over the years?  

A: “Yes, I would say I started farther away and steadily moved in. As an artist you keep thinking and learning, your vision and ideas change over the years. I think this process is a kind of evolution for me.”

Gallery install of Pritchard’s work

Q: Can you describe your process?

A: “Beside my easel is a big table and I put out a lot of pictures and sketches just so I can glance at them for reference, but I try not to slavishly follow anything. My process is organic and the composition is constantly changing. For example, I might change a whole part of the painting even after I am three quarters of the way through. I like my process  to be really flexible. I don’t do a lot of sketching before I start because I don’t want to be tied down. I do loosely block it in with washy acrylics just so I’m not facing a blank white canvas. You have to feel free, and it takes a certain level of self-confidence to be able to do that, especially with pastel because it’s not like you can paint over it, as you might be able to do with oil or acrylic paints. My art teacher in high school started me on pastels when I was 15, so I’ve studied with pastels since I was a young girl. I have experimented with other mediums, and love other mediums but pastels are what I feel most comfortable with.”

“My studio is about 30ft long. While I am working, I continuously run to the back of the studio to see what the piece looks like. It’s a lot of back and forth which is great exercise! I also hold the image up to a mirror, I have a huge wall mirror in the studio. Holding up the image helps to give a different perspective. Similar to how it is sometimes helpful to  take a picture and print the photograph as it allows me to see something in the photograph that I maybe hadn’t noticed in person.”

Pastels organized by color

Q: “What do pastels as a medium add to your work ? And how, in using this unique medium, do you achieve such fluidity in your work?”

A: “If you want the honest answer, I hate holding a brush. When I was just 15 I think I got used to playing with the spontaneity and uncertainty of the medium itself.”

“It is a lot like finger panting. I also feel like I have more of a sense of control. People tell me pastels are hard, but I just don’t think that they are hard. You have to let your subconscious lead you. You get really great color and pure pigmentation from the medium, which I really appreciate. When you work with pastels and you switch over to another medium you are disappointed that you lose that vibrancy. One of the last things I do in the studio is freshen up the color before I spray it. You don’t lose anything with pastels, they are a pure and wonderful material.”

Q: “Your artwork is so calm and soothing. I have heard that art is always a self-portrait of the artist even if the subject matter isn’t portraiture. Do you agree?”

A: “I had never heard that, but I could see how, through my work, that statement might be true.”

Visit the gallery to see more works in the collection….