The painting surface I use - archival sanded paper formulated to trap the pastel pigment - is harsh. Cold. It intimidates me before it’s broken in.
Being a lover of beautiful letters strung together to form words led me in my longtime dance with calligraphy. For many years, calligraphy was my artistic focus. Though it has taken a backseat in deference to my passion for face and figure, it has never left my process. Oftentimes I begin with choosing a quote, a scripture, or descriptive words that I feel fit Subject's persona. Then I write them, sometimes legibly and sometimes not, letting them warm up that toothy sandpaper (and me). What was a blank sheet of intimidating paper becomes a more friendly 'canvas' to begin the journey of pursuing Subject's essence. The writing becomes a part of the background texture.
Sometimes the text can be sensed. Many times not; though I know it's there, and it comforts me.