After James M. Goode had purchased Reflections II (Artist Reflecting in Garden Room) from a Taos gallery in May 1989, he asked the artist herself to comment on that image. This Beverly Schoonover did, in a detailed handwritten note dated June 12, 1989.
"As I’ve mulled over what to say about the execution of Reflections II, I’ve found myself learning things about my working process of which I was previously only marginally aware. So it’s been an interesting exercise.
When, in 1985, I began to work in pastel, I concentrated on stilllife, employing a blunter, less complex approach than I now use. As I progressed, I became more taken with the shadows cast by the objects, or with the reflections they set up in the windows behind them. But this introduced a problem: the sun refused to stand still, so my shadows shifted and my reflections fled as in a shaken kaleidoscope. I am too impatient to work only the ½ to ¾ of an hour per day in which I could count on a reasonable continuity of image, so I turned to the camera to freeze the shape and colors.
I ... begin a pastel by executing a free-hand pencil sketch. ... I often add details from life which may be difficult to read from the snapshot, or excluded from it, or I alter the composition, or exclude items. I also crop or expand as the drawing seems to dictate.
In the case of Reflections II I recall having altered the composition less than most. In part this may be due to the care with which I composed the photo in the first place, accepting the natural framing effect of the windows, interrupted by the geranium in its pot at the bottom. And, when taking the photo I was unaware of my presence in the composition. Perhaps I was concerned not to lose the rather ghostly effect of my own unexpected appearance. I found it intriguing and was a bit superstitious that if I altered it too much the spectral effect might be lost. I took my serendipity and ran with it.
I then began with the pastel, using a combination of the soft stick (Rembrandt), the harder Farber-Castells, and sometimes pastel pencils. I work from left to right and top to bottom to avoid smudging as I work. This is awkward and was not my wont when using oils, but I have adapted now and even relish the challenge. I almost never rub pastel to blend it, preferring the texture achieved by layering the colors together on the paper.
I only recently became aware of a peculiarity of my perception of the objects as I work. I no longer see them as a shirt, or a peach, or a cascade of leaves. Instead I am laying down colors and shapes unnamed, unlabeled. I am startled sometimes on drawing back to realize what object it is I have just rendered. Thus I was slow to see that the rectangle outlined in white in the rear of Reflections II is the woodwork around the door into the house. This holds true whether I am working from life or a photographic image.
Upon completion of a pastel (usually 3-5 sessions of about 3-5 hours duration [each]), I leave it in my studio ... for several days, and pay it surprise visits to see if it holds up. If it does, I sign it, spray it with Krylon Fixative ..., then mat and frame it."
Beverly Lacy Schoonover Scott grew up in western Virginia and graduated from UNC/Greensboro with a degree in Art. She continued her art education at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque NM where she stayed, married, taught elementary school and then at University of New Mexico, raised a family and, always, painted, mostly oils until she retired in 1987 and turned to pastels. Her work has been exhibited and collected in both the western and eastern parts of the United States.
Currently, Reflections II is one of the works in the HMA exhibit "Playing with Light: Reflections from the Hickory Museum of Art Collection." (January 13 - March 11, 2018) The show illustrates how artists use many different surfaces to depict reflections: water, mirrors, windows, and even spoons.
Post by Karin Borei, HMA Project Coordinator, writer and editor as needed, and HMA blogger since March 2015.