Letting Go: Discovering New View

October 2016 Posted in Arts, Culture & History
Letting Go by Buccola

Letting Go by Buccola

By Steve Ritchie

A common perception is that change gets harder as one grows older.

Silverton artist Jane Castelan Buccola is a notable exception to that stereotype. Her growth as an artist has led to a major success in her painting career.

Castelan Buccola’s painting, Letting Go, was accepted earlier this year by the Pastel Society of America for the Society’s 44th Annual Exhibition. Entitled Enduring Brilliance, the exhibition of work in the pastel medium attracted 1,496 entries from artists in the United States and 16 other countries. Only 175 works were selected to be shown in the recently-concluded show in New York City.

A painter working in the representational style for nearly 40 years, Castelan Buccola, 70, recently began doing abstract paintings, primarily working with pastel.

“I started to feel bored with doing representational work because you’re looking at something and you’re trying to copy what you see,” Castelan Buccola said. “It got to a point where it was kind of repetitive.

“I had been thinking about trying abstract for quite awhile. I thought about it for a couple of years before I actually tried it… It was a big change. It’s a different way of thinking. Abstract painting is more right brain than representational painting. So to ‘let go’ – the title of the painting – is really to let go of that left brain, and let your imagination and intuition come in and to use that in a creative manner.”

Castelan Buccola said that initially this switch to the right brain was a “really scary” process for her, and required a lot of work.

She did get help along the way. A fellow member of the Northwest Pastel Society, a psychotherapist by profession, had gone through the same process, and was fascinated by the cognitive change that abstract painting required. Castelan Buccola went to a workshop led by her friend, and began to draw and paint in a variety of media without carefully studying or trying to reproduce the subject, as she had done for so many years.

“I feel like (abstract painting) is very freeing,” Castelan Buccola said. “A lot of people tell me, ‘I don’t understand abstract art.’ But there is nothing to understand. It’s about feeling. It’s different for everybody, and I don’t think the artist has to have a particular message. You can take it or leave it – if you find something you like in it you can take that, and if you don’t, that’s okay, too.”

Ironically, Castelan Buccola said most of the work in the Pastel Society Annual Exhibition was representational. Her piece was one of the few abstract works in the show.

She said the selection of her work for such a prestigious exhibition was “definitely” a feeling of validation for her as an artist, and bolstered her confidence.

“That was questionable for me for awhile,” she noted, especially given her embrace of the abstract style. “I just feel so honored.

“I’ve used a lot of different mediums but my favorite is pastel . . . the color of pastels is very brilliant because it is pure pigment . . . . the particles (in pastel) each pick up light so there is kind of a flow to it. The first time I was attracted to pastel and wanted to do more of it was when I looked at a Degas painting. It really intrigued me and I wanted to try it. That’s been the way I have gone since then.”

Castelan Buccola attended the opening reception of the Pastel Society of America’s Enduring Brilliance show on September 23rd, and spent a long weekend in New York City with her partner, David Steinberg. They took in the Museum of Modern Art, and the Museum of Natural History, as well as going to The Lion King and to Ellis Island.

The longtime Silverton resident is now looking forward to her next show at Lunaria Gallery – a joint show with Robert Fox – which will open in March 2017. Castelan Buccola plans to show her recent work, abstract florals in both oil and pastel, in this exhibition, which will be her fifth at Lunaria since she joined in 2010.

But it might be hard to top the excitement she got when she heard the news from New York about her painting this summer.

“Surprised? Oh my gosh, yes. I just sat on the end of the bed and looked at my phone. I turned to David and said, ‘They accepted my piece.’ I was just amazed and thrilled.”

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