by RENEE PATRICK Cascade A&E Editor
“There is no measuring with time…being an artist means, not reckoning and counting, but ripening…” – Rainer Maria Rilke
Pastel artist Norma Holmes is featured at Mockingbird Gallery this February. The popular landscape artist embodies the serendipitous nature of plein air (she describes as “opening up to the moment”) to capture the unique spirit of the high desert in her work.
“I’ve always liked to work outside,” Holmes explained. “Painting [en plein air] is like crossing over a new threshold every time you put that first stroke down; you are in a different world, almost like a meditation.”
The artist studied oil painting at the Academy of Art in San Francisco where she experimented with watercolors along with drawing and charcoal. “Drawing is a good basis [to become an artist],” she said, “because painting is basically fluid drawing.”
While she is well known for her pastel work, Holmes started her painting career in oils. An unfortunate allergy to turpentine (used to clean oil-based paints) caused her shift in 1980, but a recent discovery of water soluble oil paints has her excited to once again use oils.
“I love the texture of oils,” she explained. “I can get some texture with pastels…but there is something about the texture of oil paints that I love…I like to be able to see the brush strokes and the palette knife strokes.”
With Mother Nature as her inspiration, Holmes has no trouble finding scenic locations to paint. “In Central Oregon my subject matter changes,” she said. “I love the mountains, but I also love the rabbit brush and the openness of the high desert.” When asked which location is her favorite she listed off several: the Metolius River, Three Sisters Mountains, Eastern Oregon, but ultimately she said, “Maybe my favorite place to paint is wherever I am.”
She has been working on a painted travel guide of Eastern Oregon for the past seven years, and hopes to see it to completion in 2015. “What’s really fun [about this project] is the people you meet along the way, and the places you visit,” she said. “I love nature, and at times it’s a social event. I meet a lot of people when I’m out painting in location…if you are an artist and your job is solo it’s fun to share what you do with others.”
Holmes is a signature member of the Northwest Pastel Society, and her work has appeared in publications like The Pastel Journal, International Pastel Magazine and Pastel Highlights American Artists Collector’s Edition.
Make a visit to Mockingbird Gallery on First Friday Artwalk, February 6, to meet Holmes, explore her high desert inspirations and hear some of her stories.
Mockingbird Gallery, 869 Northwest Wall Street, Bend