Three Questions for Debora Stewart

This week we’re getting to know more about new-to-us instructor Debora Stewart and her work in abstract pastels & mixed media! Debora is the author of the best-selling Northlight book, Abstract Art Painting: Expressions in Mixed Media and a series of Northlight videos on abstract painting. She teaches workshops throughout the United States and has juried national competitions in pastel. Debora is a Master Pastelist with the Pastel Society of America and in the Master’s Circle of the International Association of Pastel Societies.

Debora will be joining us from July 7-13, 2019 for a 5-day workshop on Creating Expressive Abstracts in Soft Pastel.

Q: What are some of your favorite tools for creating your work?

DS: I like to use a mixed media approach to my soft pastel paintings. I really like to develop an abstract structure on which to develop the pastel painting. This underlying structure can be developed from a variety of materials including black gesso, fluid acrylics, inks, water soluble graphite and charcoal and other various mark making materials. I also build a textured surface with clear gesso. My favorite pastels are Unison and Girault but I use many others. One can never have too many pastels! 

Q: Tell us a bit about how you plan to conduct your workshop. Will it be more structured with specific tasks for students or will be it be more free form with students exploring their own work with your guidance?

DS: I do have a structure that I follow. Each day has a different focus from creating abstract compositions, color theory, use of underpainting and ground, developing a series, finding your style and evaluating your work. Each day includes power point discussion on the days objectives, short demonstrations of techniques, exercises to help artists learn techniques, individual working time to explore the technique and ending in individual and group processing of the day. Each day builds on the day before so that by the end of the workshop artists will have a thorough understanding of how to proceed on their own. 

Q: What influences your work? 

DS: Nature influences my work. Most of my work is a reaction to time spent in nature. Sometimes you can see the evidence of more observational drawings I have created from gardens. Other times my work is memory based from a specific place. The materials also influence my work. I love the act of drawing and the physicality of making marks on paper. I really try to absorb time spent quietly in nature and allow it to come out later on paper or canvas. 

Learn more about Debora’s workshop on our website.