Bill Cone

Bill Cone, plein air pastel painter
Bill Cone is a visual development and background artist for Pixar Animation Studios, and is also a dedicated plein air pastel painter.

There is often some question about whether pastel is “drawing” or “painting”. It can be either, of course (or even both simultaneously), but I think the distinction has more to do with handling and intention than with arbitrary definitions based on “dry media” or “works on paper”.

Cone is most definitely a painter, with a painter’s sensibilities and approach to value and color. That doesn’t prevent him from using the unique qualities of his medium to advantage, however, particularly the wonderful textural qualities available in pastel.

Any stylistic concerns are subordinate to Cone’s pursuit of the qualities of light in his subjects, whether brilliant or subdued, often in compositions in which small high value passages punctuate larger dark or medium value areas.

I sometimes feel that pastel artists are too easily distracted by the high chroma potential of the painting medium with the highest ratio of pigment to binder, and let their color run away with them. Cone treats chroma much the way he does value, carefully constrained in broad passages, so that smaller areas can deliver the intensity in a more subtle and effective way.

Cone maintains a blog, which goes back several years, and features many examples of his beautiful location pastel paintings, as well as occasional posts on equipment and process. When looking through, be sure to click on the images for the larger versions, in which you can see the textural qualities of his work to advantage.

You can also get a quick overview and bit of variety on some Pinterest boards that highlight his work.

3 Replies to “Bill Cone”

  1. I am honored that you would post my work on your blog, and appreciate your thoughtful comments and analysis. I admit I tend to think I am ‘painting’, as opposed to drawing, partially because I use the stick more like a paint brush. I must point out that the bottom image in your post was done by the talented artist Julia Lundman in a workshop she attended a few years ago. Thanks again for featuring my work.

    Bill Cone

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