In his peaceful compositions, Paulo Pastel celebrates a medium that often gets “forgotten”
From being stuck in suburbia to becoming an “internet kid”, the American-Filipino artist discusses his creative journey and how he became fascinated by pastels.
- Elfie Thomas
- 1 March 2022
Gaze into the languid, revolving forms of Paulo Pastel’s Rainbow Release for a moment and you’ll find yourself melting away into a peaceful reverie. This piece was made as a way for the artist to “self-soothe” during a rough patch in his life, and it’s no surprise that it often has the same effect on its viewers. With its supple textures and hazy colour palette, it's a stunning example of Paulo’s ability to transport the viewer through peaceful and abstract compositions.
“Ideally my goal is to be an artist that can do it all. No matter what medium, industry or genre – high brow or low brow – I would love to apply my creativity to it,” Paulo tells It’s Nice That. But for now, he predominantly works in the medium which he styled his moniker after – pastel. Seeing it as “somewhat of a forgotten medium”, he delights in the various hues which pastel paper comes in and how it reacts to different colours. The physicality of working with pastels is another source of fascination for Paulo, who often uses his fingers to rub colours together whilst exploring how this momentum translates into the finished outcome.
“So much about the world fascinates me,” Paulo says. From the paintings of the old masters, the tunes he “jams out” to while working or the way the light hits water on a sunny day – “I can be inspired by almost anything," he tells us. But when it comes to experimenting with texture and colour, the trick is “getting to know the science and theory” behind these elements. Uniting this empirical approach with a passion for his craft – plus a keen eye for trends in music, art and fashion – this has led Paulo to work on some exciting creative collaborations recently.
But things weren’t always going so well in his creative career. Although he’s based in LA, Paulo lives on the outskirts which “kind of feels like suburbia”, he says. Before he began sharing his work online in 2019, he had to spend a lot of time in the car driving back and forth from the town centre in order to meet up with like-minded creatives. But since going online, he’s “learned how to be an internet kid and network and reach out to people I found interesting”.
One of these connections led him to collaborate on a fleece design with the Korean-owned marijuana/clothing company Sundae School. Working carefully with the team, Paulo came up with a design featuring the spiralling forms of fluffy broccoli heads – a pattern that took the fancy of Pete Davidson who was papped wearing it recently.
Following his dream to be an artist who “can do it all”, Paulo’s next steps will be to delve into the mediums of painting, ceramics and rug-tufting. He’d also like to take a deeper look into his Filipino roots as a source of inspiration for his work. “Filipinos have gone through so much and so much of our real culture has been erased and taken from us [...] I want to create and do things that help us reshape our identity in my own way. To represent my people in ways and spaces we never thought we could or haven't done yet.”
Paulo Pastel: Rainbow Release (Copyright © Paulo Pastel, 2021)
About the Author
Elfie joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in November 2021 after finishing an art history degree at Sussex University. She is particularly interested in creative projects which shed light on histories that have been traditionally overlooked or misrepresented.