Editor’s Letter | Tools of the Trade

By Kristin Hoerth

I love to write in longhand. I realize that in this day and age, when so much in life revolves around a keyboard, I might as well say I prefer not to use electricity. But it’s true. Whether it’s a letter to a friend or a grocery list or a couple of words jotted on a sticky note, I enjoy putting pen to paper. And I seize every opportunity to do so: I take notes in meetings on legal pads (never on my laptop), and if I have a particularly thorny situation to figure out, I make more progress once I’ve worked through my thoughts in ink. Call me a dinosaur if you must, but that’s what works for me.

As a result, I pay more attention than most to what I write with. In my desk drawer is an absurdly wide selection of various ballpoint and rollerball pens, highlighters and markers, and a handful of mechanical pencils. I also treasure my Waterford fountain pen, although unfortunately it isn’t practical for daily use. Color is important, too, so I have several packages of gel pens in a rainbow of colors, which are useful in the editing process here at Southwest Art.

I’ve been thinking about the act of making marks on paper quite a bit while working on this issue’s special section on pastels and watercolors. One of the things that fascinates me about both mediums is the tools of these trades—especially the hundreds of sticks of pastels in endless colors that I’ve seen in artists’ studios. In many ways, working with these sticks is a completely different world when compared to thin, transparent watercolors or thick, juicy blobs of oil paint on a palette. Of course, certain artistic concerns are universal regardless of the tools used: composition, color, line, shape, and so on. But the choice of medium is a personal one; pastels feel “right” to one artist while watercolors feel right to another. Somewhat like a particular pen appeals to me. And believe me, I’m going to stick to writing, not painting.

One more thing: Please note that my e-mail address, listed below, has changed slightly to reflect Southwest Art’s new corporate parent. F+W Media is a dynamic publishing company that we’re happy to join. And as always, I’d love to hear from you! -March 2009