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Riva Sweetrocket is a painter.

In this, probably one of the most remarkable facets of Riva Sweetrocket’s work is that she uses dry pastels. Her sense of detail and precision is something that graphic artists struggle to achieve on a computer; oil painters, with the finest of brushes. Pastels are typically a loose medium. They do not usually achieve the level of meticulousness that Sweetrocket has managed to accomplish in her paintings.

And yes, they are paintings. According to Sweetrocket, the accepted notion of what a “painting” is finds its provenance in how a surface is covered: If the surface is completely covered with a medium (pastels), then it is a “painting”. If the surface is not covered, it is not considered a painting. Therefore, whether one uses pastels or oils, or acrylics or even graphite is not where the demarcation is made.

Technicalities aside, Sweetrocket’s work is astounding. It’s bigger than the surfaces that she covers. Her colors are bold and, at times, alarming. Typically she begins by creating collages on her computer, a medium she has long been comfortable with since working as a graphic designer. Once the composition is complete, she transfers that onto paper and begins creating her collages with pastels.

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