MOORE ON ART: Rita Kirkman


By Deva Moore

Rita has always been an artist. Her early memories include coloring, painting, and drawing as a young child. Rita enjoyed painting with acrylics and then pastels arrived in her life!!! At about 11 years of age, Rita was given a box of pastels. She immediately was drawn to the versatility pastels offered. Rita has a master’s hand at using light, color and composition in her work. Pastels could be manipulated to allow her to be more adventurous in her manner of portraying light with color, value and temperature. Rita employs the ranch animals for subjects because she finds that they are ideal models of sunlight. To quote Claude Monet .”…The subject matter, my dear fellow, is the light.”

Let’s refresh or learn about pastels for a minute…they are NOT chalk and must not be referred to as chalk. Pastels are a more refined product in the art world. They are also known as “tints” and are paler tones of colors made by mixing a significant amount of white into the original shade. The vibrancy can be adjusted and the desired effect created easily. Light is the dramatic effect of using pastels and shading in an artwork creation. Pastel colors are named after an artistic medium made from pigment and solid binding agents. Pastels have a lower saturation than paints of the same color family. Rita employs a dramatic use of sunlight and shadow. Her result is amazing and both complex and simple. Her art successfully explodes with the perfect combination of dramatic appeal.

Rita defines pastel as a pure powdered pigment and as the most permanent of all media. She creates her signature style by underpainting with warm toned acrylic pumice gel primers and applies pastel in layers on this, allowing the underpainting to influence the color and temperature vibration, especially in the cool shadows. This contrast is the foundation of the feeling of warm sunlight in her work. One can almost feel the warmth of the sunlight and smell the animal fragrance and the environment dirt and grasses. If one stays still enough the slight breeze will brush your face. Rita assured me that her pastels are not diluted but pure powdered pigment with a little binder. Pastels catch the light in such a way as to add to the texture and brilliance due to the tiny particles of glimmer in its make up. Texture is important to pastels and Rita uses layers to create the texture she wants in her art. She always uses an underpainting to lay her foundation for the subject. It enhances the finished piece and gives a remarkable effect. Her piece entitled “Texas Pride and Progeny” is a wonderful example of this effect. Rita suggest experimenting with different techniques to find one that is perfect for you as an artist.

Tools in the pastel medium include wedges that are a foam sponge or brushes but most importantly the hand. One’s hand is the most crucial tool as it blends, applies, mixes and can darken or lighten the color palette but one must be careful to use a glove so that the oils from the skin do not change the color or ability of the pastel. Rita has experimented with many different types of paper canvases but finds the most durable and long lasting is Cason paper. Its integrity is amazing. Gator board is an excellent backing and holds firmly. Always create with the best and on the best. Using quality materials will ensure the artwork will last for a long life. Many generations will enjoy the piece provided care to avoid the elements is implemented. Many pastel art is still in existence and as fresh as the day it was created over 200 years ago. A fixative must be carefully applied and chosen as some may darken the colors of the Pastel. Some fixatives are desired but knowing Pastels will help the artist in the right direction. Rita is also a well requested Caricature artist and was employed as such at Fiesta Texas some years ago. She has graced many venues and events as a professional Caricaturist at many festivals and some private parties. One may check out the website for more information. Rita has is available for private parties or private events for a fee. Contact her for information on your event.

Rita encourages workshops and classes per se. She also recommends art galleries for experiencing all types of art but advises one remember that in any endeavor one must follow their own journey. Workshops and classes are amazing and a wonderful tool for an artist. Never totally mimic another but learn advanced or new methods or ideas. Always follow one’s own journey. Use others experiences and journey to forge one’s own. Rita’s art can be enjoyed at the Boerne Carriage House Gallery at 110 Rosewood Boerne, Tx. She has been exhibiting there for approximately 3 years. As an artist extraordinaire, Rita has won many awards. She will be exhibiting at the New Braunfuls art show during October so plan to visit. One may view or even contact Rita through the CarriageHouse/ or at or by phone at 830-248-1184. Hours and days are listed on the website. Rita can be reached by phone at 210-274-3384, or on facebook, Instagram or most information can be found on a site many are using! Rita’s Instagram is KirklandRita and she can be found on Facebook at Rita Kirkland Studio. Or as Rita says…”Just Google me!!!” Rita teaches many age groups but feels that adults are better equipped for her workshops and classes. She offers virtual classes or informational videos about 4 times a month on her site. There is an index so that one can view the video they would most enjoy. She enjoys a private studio but Carriage House enjoys her many monthly visits!!!

Awards are important and Rita has many. Both National and international awards are feathers in her cap. She has her work featured in the Pastel Journal and the Pratique des Arts Special and Pastels and she has been published in many others. She is proud to be a Signature Member of the Pastel Society of America and an Eminent Panelist with the International Association of Pastel Societies. Rita is honored to hold the status of Master Pastel. This is acquired after winning 3 times at a specific National Show. Rita is also a popular and requested workshop instructor. Her art is owned by art lovers all over the world. She sends purchased pieces securely and safely. Pastels as with anything must be packed correctly and shipped safely to maintain the integrity of the painting.

As I always do with the artists, I asked Rita what her favorite piece is that she has created. It varies with each artist from a certain one to the next one to all of them!!! Rita told me that she loves everything she does but about every 10th one just seems to strike a spark for her. I find most everything that all the artists do as extraordinary!!! If you want to own some remarkable art then my suggestion this month is to go visit Carriage House Gallery and enjoy the magic of art. Find one to add to your collection or to give as a gift to someone who has everything!!! You cannot go wrong buying art and the magic art creates in your home is priceless!!! Start your collection today or maybe start a collection for your children!!! A life is only as wonderful as the art in it!!!!