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In talking with John Preston about his latest series of work, wonderful scenes of the Des Moines River with astounding accomplishments of color, he revealed that he will often customize and make his pastels. Born of out a somewhat dire circumstance, John told us more about this ongoing experiment.

On location...

“I do make some of my own pastels, for a variety of reasons. Years ago (1989?) I dropped and broke a critical color on location and tried to reconstitute it with the dregs of ice in a cherry coke and drying it on the hood of the car. It almost worked and I discovered commercially made pastels could be remade from their dust and plain water. In those days the selection of colors was a fraction of what's currently available so I started making the off-shades needed for landscape. In the studio, I collected the dust from my easel tray to make really useful grays (still do).

Most recently I joined a couple other Fairfield artists, Cindy Kaynor and Danielle Shier, making them from scratch. Cindy operates a small art supply store in ICON Gallery's classroom space. She used to buy sets from a prominent manufacturer and sell us individual sticks but they instituted a ridiculously large minimum order policy. We decided to buy pigments and make our own because the process is very low tech - almost as complicated as making Jell-o or cookies. We reverse engineered the formulation of that manufacturer (or something close to it) and can make custom colors, duplicate discontinued favorites or fill the "holes" in your palette. So with pastels at least, we've revived the tradition of the local artist's colorman.”

You can see more of John's work on display now through August 1 as part of our ANNUAL LANDSCAPE SHOW.

06/24/2015 11:38 AM |Add a comment |Comments (2)
Hi, my husband is from Iowa and I really enjoy John Preson's art. I am wondering about contacting him about possibly commissioning a piece or seeing more of his current works. Thanks for any information.

Lindsay Wierdsma

Lindsay Wierdsma | | 04/02/2020 6:59 PM
Wonderful to learn that other Iowa artists craft their own medium. Students always loved to it when Byron taught them how to make paints.

Helen burford | | 06/24/2015 2:04 PM
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