The pastels, those big pastels that I make, are very monumental. And they have a dryness. The material is pressed into the paper over and over and over again. Behind glass, they’re blurred, they’re indistinct. They have a physicality, but they have the physicality of powder … or chalk, whereas the paintings are shiny, inherently shiny. In other words a pastel doesn’t really have a skin. It’s full of air. You know, a pastel, one doesn’t get the sense with a pastel that it has an outer skin, that it has a beginning and an end. It seems, well, it’s powder, so one is chasing its outer and inner extremities when one’s looking at it, because you don’t really know where it starts and where it ends. But with the skin of oil paint, you do.
Sean Scully, interview with Ned Rifkin, in Ned Rifkin (ed.), Sean Scully: Twenty years 1976–1995, London: Thames & Hudson, 1995, pp. 57–80 (p. 79).