“…it’s more than just picking up a brush and putting paint on canvas. For me, it’s about freedom of expression. Painting what’s on my mind and what’s in my heart.”
—Pastel Rae (Corbett)
Meeting Pastel(yes, that is her real first name) Rae Corbett is a very interesting(and exhausting in a way that takes your breath away) experience. She is a mixture of youth, vibrancy, and depth. She is extremely extroverted but paints about personal experiences and feelings which she doesn’t share through words. She doesn’t know where to start when talking about her background yet, once she is on a roll, the words just pour out of her at lightning speed. Pastel talks with her hands constantly in motion. She apologized for this during our conversation, but I shrugged it off. I come from a town with a large ethnic Italian contingent in its population so I am used to people speaking as much with their hands as with their mouths. Listening to her talk about her passion leaves one as breathless as she is when she is finished talking. You fell the sincerity when she talks about wanting to help others succeed also. Yet she makes it seem that when she does help someone, it is no big deal.
Pastel Rae(don’t kill me, editors, she is like Cher—first name only professionally) was raised in the Oak Park area of Sacramento. She attended local schools, graduating from Sacramento High School a year early. Surprisingly, her art talent developed without the aid of formal training.
“I have drawn,” she explained, “ever since I can remember.”
Her first sale came during the 2004 Sacramento High School Art Show held at the 40 Acres Art Gallery. She was accepted to the Fashion Institute of Design and Marketing(FIDM) in San Francisco hoping to pursue a career in fashion design but had to decline due to not being offered financial aid. She turned down an offer from her mother to sell their home to help finance this schooling. She decided to attend Sacramento City College because it was cheaper. Following her first year there, she started caring for her one year old nephew after a family accident. Even the lesser cost of attending school locally didn’t work out after about another year. Her dreams were put on hold. She spent the next five years of her life, till age 22, teaching daycare and being a nanny.
At that point in her life with just $500 to her name, she decided to take a risk and move to Los Angeles, staying with family for two years of a planned one year time frame. She got a job with fashion designer, Kelly Nishimoto. Pastel used her free time to start to paint, creating 25 works in her time in Los Angeles.
Hating the non-stop competitive atmosphere of the City of Angels(“Where you don’t really have any real friends even among people you work with and like”) and missing her mother who continued to live here in Sacramento, Pastel returned home in September 2012. She took a job with a local real estate company as a marketing manager to pay the bills and support her painting. She found that Sacramento was “not the black hole” she thought it was. “You have to shape your attitude regarding life and not let the place you live shape it for you,” she said.
Determined to do something with her art, she put together her own first art show in October 2012. She was able to obtain use of the Bacon and Butter restaurant(the owner was the boyfriend of one of Pastel’s friends) for the show. Pastel did all her own marketing and promotion for the event through the use of social media, Craigslist and flyers she handed out herself. She drew a crowd of eighty(80) people, a lot of them family and friends with several walk-ins also. She sold 24 of her pieces instead of the 5 or so she expected.
Pastel put together a second show in July of this year. Keeping with her commitment to help others, she featured a second artist in this show, Bianca Vidales, a total unknown artist she had met locally. Pastel again used her own marketing talents to promote the show. While not quite as successful financially as the first, it did manage to attract many more non-family and friend attendees.
Pastel’s plans include doing only about one show a year in the future so she can keep her work fresh in the public view by not overexposing her work. She has also started to custom pieces to stretch her abilities and not limit herself to one style. Pastel met local artist Demetris BAMR Washington recently, and they are developing plans to do a project together in the near future.
Besides working her day job to pay the bills and working on her art, Pastel also spends time on Friday afternoons teaching art at a local daycare. “Art is important for the development of children’s minds,” she said. “Unfortunately, it is often left out of curricula due to a lack of funding. This is my way of helping to address that problem.”
Not one to rest on her laurels, Pastel is collaborating with a friend from her Los Angeles days on a clothing line for little girls. The friend is developing the ideas and handling the fashion business side while Pastel provides the sketches of the outfits being developed.
The young Sacramento artist also is looking at the possibility of using her art to teach, not in a school necessarily, but in a therapeutic setting of some sort. “Issues and feelings that young people may not be able to bring out in words hopefully can be brought out through the development of their art skills,” Pastel said. This idea very much reflects the use of her art to express her feelings and the joys and sorrows of her life.
The overriding motivation for her art work is summed up best by the the tattoo on her right arm. It reads: “Pur-pose [pur-puhs] – noun the reason for which something exists.” Pastel’s purpose is the creation of art and using it, not just to earn a living, but to make the world and its people better. This is truly reflected in her work…and her life.