Sunday, January 22, 2017

When the Star Wants to Shine....Thoughts on Focal Points

'Nestled'               11x14           pastel           ©Karen Margulis
available $175
The evolution of a painting is such an interesting thing. Sometimes the painting takes on a life of its own and moves away from the matter how hard you try to bring it back! Sometimes the star of the painting just has to shine. Even it was supposed to be the star!  This happened to me yesterday during the demo at my winter workshop.

I selected the subject because it checked all the boxes of winter landscape elements. I had covered my top 10 tips and techniques for painting winter landscapes and this particular reference photo covered many of them.....evergreen trees, bare trees, distant trees, sunlit snow, shadows in snow. I was excited about it.

I made my plan. I did a value thumbnail and a small color study. I chose my pastels. I started the painting with a warm and cool dry wash underpainting. My intention was to showcase the sunlit trees at the left end of the stand of trees. These trees would be the stars and I would direct my snow path to them. 

But the little evergreen tree grew larger as I added layer to my tree stand. I should have know it would happen by looking at my color study. I didn't intend for it to be the star but it was making its presence known. Once I added the snow to the branches it was all over. The tree was the star....or was it?

Painting with a Plan: thumbnail, photo and color study
After the morning session we took our lunch break. I studied the demo painting wondering what I would do to finish it. Back on the easel for the afternoon session I discussed the finishing process with the group. We all agreed that the evergreen had become the star. I had two choices.....make it the star and direct the viewer's eye to the tree of downplay the tree and clarify my original star.

With a flourish I took a piece of pipe foam and scrubbed the little tree until it was a shadow of its former self. I pulled some of the orange tree over the evergreen further diminishing it. (see photo above)  I made my point....have a plan and stick to it even if it means brushing out a perfectly good tree. But the story isn't over.

a quick color study 2.5 x 3.5 
This morning I was looking at the painting and it bothered me. I wasn't sure what it was but something was wrong. It was the evergreen. It really didn't look right hidden in the woods. It WANTED to be the star. So against the plan the painting started to come alive as I restored the tree to it's place as the star. I orchestrated some marks in the snow to bring the eye back to the tree. I added a  bit of bright now on the branches and called it finished.

Moral of the story: Listen to the painting. Don't fight it. When it starts to stray from the plan let it happen and make the new plan work!

Winter Painting Sale!
I have 25 pastel painting in all prices and sizes inspired by winter. I am offering a discount of 25% on these paintings for one week only. See them all in my Etsy shop and use coupon code WINTERART at checkout.  Link here:

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Having Fun with Textured Boards

'City Lights'         8x10       pastel         ©Karen Margulis
available $125
Today was such a fun day!  It was a rainy day in Georgia but a wonderful group of pastel artists joined me in my studio for a one day workshop. The topic was Painting the Winter Landscape. I meant to take pictures to share but the time just got away from me. Eight hours went so fast!  I started the day with some 'Rapid Fire' demos and tip sharing talk. I shared my top 10 tips and techniques for painting a winter landscape. I followed this with a demo and then the 13 artists painted for the next couple of hours. They were amazing!! I was so impressed with their work and loved their enthusiasm!

After lunch we changed gears and I shared some more winter fun. One of my favorite techniques for painting winter scenes is to use textured surfaces. I love how the random brushstrokes help give the illusion of falling snow and adds interest to a snowy patch.

I wanted to share this fun technique with the group. Since we had limited time I made the surfaces in advance and give everyone the recipe. It is simple and there are many variations. All I do is mix some gesso with a few spoonfuls of powdered pumice and add drops of water until the mixture is the consistency of thin cream of wheat. I tinted my mixture with Golden liquid acrylics. I made some yellow and some red violet.  I applied the mixture to mat board with a cheap brush. I demonstrated a cityscape on a red violet board.

It was such a fun day made even better with a talented and friendly group of artists! I love to teach and it is always gratifying when artists really embrace what I share and have success!

Friday, January 20, 2017

Exploring Underpaintings. Try This!

'Changing'           9x12         pastel         ©Karen Margulis
available $225
It came to me in a dream last night. I woke up with a vague memory of painting. I don't remember what I was painting but I did remember that I had started with a a very specific underpainting.  Of course I had to try it today!

In my dream I did a combination warm and cool underpainting. I used cool colors in the shadows and warm colors in the areas lit by the sun. It is such a simple way to give your painting a head start in capturing the light. I was excited to give it a try.

Blocking in the painting with big shapes of warm and cool colors

I chose a photo from my favorite park. It was late afternoon and the trees were catching the last fiery rays of the setting sun. It was late autumn so there was a chill in the air. But the warmth of the trees made up for the cold.

I took out a piece of dark gray Canson Mi-Teintes paper and my box of Nupastels.  I dis a simple block in with oranges for the sunlit trees and blues for the tree and grasses in the shadows. I added a pale blue-green for the sky.

adding the trunks and branches

I developed some of the branches with my Terry Ludwig eggplant pastel and then continued layering with soft pastels. All I had to do was follow the warm and cool block-in colors. With each layer I refined the trees and grasses. I used the sky color to further refine the trees. It was fun to work on a painting that I started in my dreams! I know I will use this underpainting technique again. How about you?

my tiny reference photo in the top left corner

Underpainting for pastels is a complicated subject. There are so many ways to start a pastel painting. There are so many underpainting choices with no right or wrong way to go about it. I have put together a three day workshop on underpainting so I have much more to share than I can in this one post. But a quick point....every underpainting choice you make will influence the painting. I encourage you to experiment and play so that your underpainting choices will become intuitive.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

A Tip for Creating Depth in a Pastel Painting

'Marsh Music'         8x10         pastel          ©Karen Margulis
available $125
It still amazes me. The idea that we can take a flat piece of paper and create the illusion of a three dimensional reality. Imagine that! All we have are paper and a few sticks of pigment and yet if done properly we can create a painting that has depth. Creating depth is always one of my top goals for a landscape painting. There are some things we can do to help create this illusion of depth. Understanding aerial or atmospheric perspective it the key.

As objects recede into space the atmosphere causes their appearance to change.....things tend to get lighter, color, less intense, less detailed and there is less contrast.

In today's painting I tried to cover a few of these ideas with my focus on the level of detail I used.

The addition of clear gesso to provide more texture. It will dry clear.

In the foreground we can have as much detail as we want. It is in front of us so we can see all of the detail. As we go into the distance the level of detail decreases. Things get fuzzier! In my painting I purposely painted the distant trees as simple cool shapes. There are no details in those trees even though I saw details in my reference photo.

To emphasize the depth I wanted to have more clarity and detail in the foreground. It was a tangle of grasses and brambles at the edge of the creek. I wanted to capture this tangled feeling with some texture. I used my usual technique for creating texture in grass with some workable fixative. It just wasn't enough! I had an idea! A 'what if' moment!
  •  I took out some clear gesso which has a slight grit and brushed it allover the foreground. I used random brushstrokes to convey the tangle of grasses. Once the gesso was dry I repainted the foreground. The pastel glided over the grooves leaving a nice 'grassy' texture. Click on the painting to see the detail.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Painting Lessons from a Marsh

'Return to the Marsh'           8x10        pastel         ©Karen Margulis
available $125
There is so much to learn from painting a marsh. I can't think of a better landscape to demonstrate for someone new to pastels. I had the privilege today to share the wonderful world of pastels with a wonderful artist new to the medium. I love to be a pastel ambassador! I began our session with the introduction of the tools of the trade....testing pastels and papers. Then I did a demonstration of my easy 6 steps to a pastel painting. I chose a marsh as my subject.

Marshes are one of my favorite things to paint but they also allow me to talk about so many painting tips and techniques. Here are just a few. I will expand on each of them in future posts.

  • Simplification. Marshes can be a complicated tangle of grasses and water. Doing a thumbnail allows me to simplify the marsh into a few big shapes. Start the painting with big shapes and gradually build and add the details
  • Atmospheric Perspective: Marshes are expansive. They are a perfect candidate to practice the principles of atmospheric or aerial perspective. Learning how to create the illusion of depth is one of the most important things a landscape painter can learn. Marshes give us the material to exaggerate these changes.
  • Mark-Making: Marshes have so much interesting texture from the grasses and shrubs to the water. Practicing a variety of marks and learning how to manipulate the pastels to get the marks you want is important. A marsh allows for a lot of variety in mark making.
  • Skies: The sky is one of the most important parts of a landscape. It sets the mood and tone of the painting. Marshes allow for an expansive sky. It is fun to play with skies over a marsh.
  • Suggestion of detail: Learning how to suggest detail rather than painting every blade of grass is an important lesson. I have learned so much about painting grasses from a marsh. It is also fun to practice 'hinting' at buildings in the distance!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

A Change of Scenery....New Inspiration

'A Quiet Refuge'           8x10        pastel        ©Karen Margulis
available $150 
 I'm on a roll. I am thoroughly enjoying redoing the paintings I found in my discard pile. I'm glad I had the room to store all these duds. Not only am I able to recycle papers and boards, I am getting the chance to put what I have learned into practice.

When I look at an old painting it is proof that I have really grown as an artist. Sometimes in the day to day struggle of painting it is hard to see any progress. It can be slow and frustrating to get past the learning curve. And even then we still struggle to get to that next level. When I look at these older paintings that were my best work at the is satisfying to see that I really have learned some things along the way!

Today I will share my thoughts behind the recycle of an older painting from the discard pile.

The original recovered from the discard pile
While I liked the subject matter of the original there were some issues that I would need to address. 
  • The pathway lead nowhere and appeared to go uphill. It didn't lay flat into the ground.
  • The rust colored grasses in the foreground formed a fence. They were a barrier for entry into the painting.
  • There was not much depth in the grasses. This view was quite long in real life and the painting didn't capture this expansiveness.
  • The water lines were bumpy. Especially the top edge of the sea.
  • The sky was boring.
Since the painting was on Ampersand Pastelbord it would be easy to do an alcohol wash to simplify all of the shapes. See below.

After washing with rubbing alcohol

I actually liked the result after the wash! I may have to explore this idea further. But for today I decided to work on the painting and create a change of scenery. It was good to review the older painting to see what I would have changed but in the end the underpainting revealed a new landscape. I used a similar color palette for this Florida wetlands landscape. Another fun recycle!

Try this: Take out an older painting or photo of your painting (from when you were new to pastel) . Study it and make notes on what you would do differently. Use this painting as inspiration and paint an updated version.

Monday, January 16, 2017

How to Create a Snow Storm in Pastel

'Hurry Home!'       10.5 x 7      pastel       ©Karen Margulis
available $165
 I still remember that day. Caitlin and I were in Chicago. We were spending the day downtown while Corey was at work. It wasn't supposed to snow that day. But the forecast was wrong. Very wrong. It started after lunch. A nice gentle dusting of snow....pretty flurries that made us smile. We were happy we wore our boots! Soon though the snow intensified. It kept falling and it was getting heavier and more persistent. The wind picked up and it became cold and wet. It wasn't fun anymore.

So we found shelter in a store. The best place to be in a snow storm for Caitlin. I was distracted though. I wanted to watch the storm. Fortunately I found a window overlooking an intersection. I sat in the window with my camera and snapped away. I watched the people struggle against the snow and wind. They became some of my favorite subjects to paint.

Today I prepared some textured boards and decided to revisit some of these photos. Textured boards make a great base for painting a snow storm. It is easy to paint falling snow. Read on for some tips.

Working on a home made textured surface toned yellow

The painting before the addition of snow

  • I paint the big simple shapes of the composition first. I paint the snow on the ground but I don't worry about the falling snow at first.
  • Once the painting is complete it is time to add the snow. I choose a white or very light value soft pastel and a palette knife. These are the tools of the trade!
  • I hold the pastel over my painting and shave the pastel over the painting using the palette knife making sure I move it all over the painting. I want to avoid having clumps of pastel dust.
  • I press the bits of dust into the board with the back of the palette knife. Now I have what looks like a gentle snow fall.
  • To create a snow storm I take my pinky finger and quickly flick some of the snow bits so that they smudge. This gives the illusion of if the wind is blowing the snow.
  • I wanted to create even more movement in the snow so I used the sharp edge of a hard white pastel and paint some thin lines in the direction of the blowing wind.
  • The combination of pastel dust, flicking pastel and drawing thin lines all combine to create the feeling of a snow storm.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Reworking a Winter Landscape

'Winter Walk'           16x20        pastel       ©Karen Margulis
available $275
I confess. I am not very organized when it comes to keeping track of my older paintings. One of the downfalls of being a daily painter is the number of paintings that accumulate. So in my early days of painting  (10 years ago) I just piled the finished paintings in boxes or if they were large stack them against the wall of my storage room. It really didn't matter because I was painting just for the sake of painting.

I have been having fun uncovering many of these lost daily paintings. Today I found a stack of larger forgotten paintings. Most of them were pretty bad! But there was one done on Pastelbord that caught my eye. It was 16x20 and probably one of my first winter landscapes. It still had potential so I pulled it from the pile.

Here is the original painting done probably 10 years ago:

The original painting from the early days
Since it was on Pastelbord I didn't want to waste it. I decided to revive it with some finishing touches. What I am discovering is that many times a painting is just a few strokes away from being finished. Ten years ago I thought that this one was done. But now I could see that some refinement and addition of spices would make it better. I put it up on my easel and made a few adjustments. Can you spot them?

Here is what I did:

  • I made the distant trees lighter and cooler to add more depth to the scene.
  • I refreshed the sky adding some pale yellow instead of the pink to make a visual connection between the ground and the sky.
  • I refined the trees adding more color and detail. I also added a third small tree.
  • I refined the grasses adding more color and more delicate grass marks. (the original ones were to clunky)
  • I refreshed the snow and snow shadows and worked more snow into the grassy areas.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

A Fun Discovery leads to a New Painting

'Before the First Snow'           8x10      pastel         ©Karen Margulis
available $250
The past couple of days haven't exactly been fun. I was in the middle of studio cleanup so I already had a mess on my hands. As I was walking into my garage/storage room I noticed a puddle. I cursed under my breath at the cat or dog who decided to make a bad decision. But as I cleaned up the puddle the water kept coming. It was seeping under the bookcase. It could only be coming from one place.....the hot water heater!  Fortunately I was home and caught it just in time to turn the water off.

Repairs are underway but a shelf of supplies had to be moved and a storage closet emptied. All of this adding to the mess I had already made. I have to get everything cleaned up and organized before my studio workshop next week! Sometimes making a mess can be good though. I made a fun discovery!

A Vintage piece of Wallis Belgian Mist paper
 In a pile of used foam core boards I found a pristine piece of Wallis sanded paper taped to the board all ready to go. I wasn't planning on painting today but that wonderful piece of paper called to me. Should I wait? Should I savor it? Do I have something worthy to paint? I didn't pay attention to the voices in my head that told me to wait. I pulled out a photo from my favorite place in Chicago and got to work. It was a fun diversion from the clean-up!

the block in with Nupastels
Wallis Belgian Mist was a favorite paper of mine when it was available. I enjoyed the gray tone of the paper and the perfect grittiness to the sanded surface. My prairie meadow didn't need an underpainting so I blocked in a few shapes with Nupastels and rubbed them in with a piece of pipe insulation foam.

close up
I knew that my set of Terry Ludwig's Shades of nature set would be perfect for the early December landscape. The colors in the prairie meadow were the muted colors of late autumn. A few dried seed heads were hanging on...some had exploded revealing their bounty of white fluffy seeds. I enjoyed weaving the grasses creating a gold and violet tangle.  Hmmmm I wonder what other treasures I will find as my clean up continues?

Terry Ludwig Shades of Nature Set
Note: Wallis sanded paper was the favorite of many pastelists. It came in white and Belgian mist and was a medium grade of grittiness. After some production issues it was hard to come by. I am not sure of the status of the paper now but I have come to enjoy using Uart sanded paper which I occasionally tone to the 'Belgian Mist' color.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Weekend Assignment: Working With a Mystery Underpainting

'First Snow Retreating'          5x7        pastel       ©Karen Margulis
 How are you doing on your goal to paint more in 2017? I know many of you told me that you are making the commitment to paint more often. I try to paint something everyday even if it is just a small study. The problem is coming up with ideas and things to paint. I am not lacking reference material. I have over 50,000 photos! But sometimes I just don't know how to get started. Too many choices are just as challenging as too few!

I have an idea for a daily painting exercise that gives me fuel for many paintings. I'd like to share it with you and perhaps you can give it a try. Create some Mystery Underpaintings this weekend!

A mystery Underpainting
 A Mystery Underpainting is an underpainting done without any idea of the subject. Usually when doing an underpainting we have the photo or scene in front of us. The underpainting then is designed to work with the subject. Mystery Underpaintings are opposite. They are done without a subject in mind.....A subject is then found to fit the underpainting results. The result is a more playful underpainting. It invites happy accidents!

I often do several wet underpaintings at the same time. It saves on time and clean-up. I take several pieces of paper and just play with shapes and colors and brushstrokes. It can be any type of wet underpainting from watercolor and oil to wet pastel. Anything goes! I set these underpaintings aside for a day like today when I just didn't know what to paint or how to get started.

Midway through the painting. See the underpainting peeking through?

Today's Mystery Underpainting suggested trees and grasses to me. So I found a photo that spoke to me that I felt would work with the underpainting. Since it is a mystery and done months ago I'm afraid I don't know what I used to create it. It doesn't really matter though. It provided a colorful and interesting start to my early winter landscape. (scroll up to see the underpainting)

I liked the results. I probably wouldn't have thought to put that bright blue under the trees but I like how it peeks out under the dull colors of winter!

close up. click to enlarge
How about creating some mystery underpaintings this weekend! 

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Pastel Tip of the Week: A Simple Save

'Mid Winter Memories'         11x14          pastel        ©Karen Margulis
available $165
Do you ever get frustrated with a painting? Do you ever get to a point where you just donn't know what else to do to make it work? I know it happens to me all of the time. And I often fall into the same trap which only makes things worse. The trap of overworking and adding more and more in the hope that something will work.

Take the painting in the photo just below. It was a winter scene I painted last year. It ended up in my pile of rejects because no matter what I did it just wouldn't work. The problem started with my reference photo. It was too busy....melted snow, fall foliage poking through the first snow of the season, half bare trees...people walking. It was just too much for one painting. But instead of simplifying I tried to put it ALL in.

A very busy landscape!
 The painting was just chaotic. There was nowhere for the eye to rest. Painting the sparse snow was tricky and in the end the painting was spotty and disjointed.  I didn't like it so I added the figure with a dog. That didn't works so I added snow on the branches. I still wasn't happy so I added some falling snow. The more I added the worse it got!

That was the problem! Most of the time when finishing a painting or trying to fix a painting gone bad,  it isn't what you ADD but instead it is what you TAKE AWAY. Less is more and Simplify! You've heard it before and it is great advice. The next time you are finishing a painting and it just isn't working....instead of trying to add things try to simplify and take things away. It usually does the trick! Here are a few ideas for simplification:

Brush off some of the pastel

  •  Brush off sections of the painting to create softer edges. This helps give areas for the eye to rest. This works great for distant features in a landscape....soften and simplify.
  • Use a hard pastel to scumble over some of the busy areas. This will also soften and simplify.
  • Start over! My painting was too far gone so I decided to use a stiff brush and brush off the painting. I was left with a softer ghost image and more tooth to redo the painting. I also decided to spray the painting with rubbing alcohol and use the brush to move the pastel around. ( I keep some rubbing alcohol in a small spray bottle) It dried as a soft gray ghostly block-in. I then revived the painting keeping things SIMPLE. Scroll to the top of this post to see the newly simplified painting.

Spray with some rubbing alcohol and brush in...simplifying the scene

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Thoughts Behind a Recycled Painting

'Winter Beach Walk'         9x12       pastel       ©Karen Margulis
available $150
 I just started my yearly studio clean up. I'm a little late but I always like to start the year with a clean and organized studio. Today I began to go through my stacks of paintings from last year. You all know by now that I don't throw anything out. That includes scrap paper! Often I will use a piece of paper to illustrate a point for a student. It is easier to show it than just explain it!

That leaves me with a pile of paper with a few pastel marks. This year I plan to use these 'mini demo scraps' and create recycled paintings. I will share my thoughts behind the process of taking a scrap and turning it into a painting. Enjoy today's installment.

Scrap paper with a mini demo....time to recycle!
 Today's scrap is a mini demo I did for a student illustrating how I paint sand and shadows on the sand. It was on a piece of gray Canson Mi-teintes paper. I decided to stick with the theme of sand and paint a sand dune! I turned the paper to a horizontal format and brushed out the demo as best as I could.

The demo brushed out with a new painting blocked in
I was working from a photo of a dune in North Florida. I liked the moody quality which I wanted to convey. But I also liked the bit of light on the dunes. I blocked in the dune with the edge of a middle value pastel.

my reference photo

  • I selected a few pastels keeping a limited palette of gray-blues, greens and peaches. I started with  dark brown and violet Terry Ludwig pastels and blocked in the dark areas on the dune. This would be the dried grasses.
  • Next I worked on the sky. I wanted to be sure to get the right mood quality so I started with a pale green. I added some pale peach and yellow for the light in the sky and ended with some grayed blues for the clouds at the top of the sky.
  • To keep color harmony in the painting I used the same pastels in the sea and sand. I wanted a connection between the earth and sky.
  • Next it was time to add the light to the edge of the dunes. I used some rich peach pastels to create this light that is breaking through the clouds and illuminating the dunes.
  • The dried grasses at the top of the dunes were created with the edge of a Terry Ludwig pastel. A few touches of orange on some of the grasses were the final touches.
******************Come Paint with me in Florida this February!********************
There are still a couple of spots remaining in my February workshop at the North Port Art Center in Venice Florida. (Feb 11 & 12)This two day workshop will focus on color. It is suitable for artists of any level of experience. I'd love the opportunity to share with you. Here is the link to more information

Sunday, January 08, 2017

A Must Have Resource for all Pastelists

5 x 7         pastel      ©Karen Margulis
I have poured over the pages over and over again. Each time learning new things and having AHA moments.  Pastel Journal is a must have resource for anyone interested in painting with pastels. I remember when I was new to pastel. I subscribed to the magazine of course but I was impatient for each issue to arrive. I wanted more. I went on Ebay and won a lot of Pastel Journal back issues including the very first issue. I was in pastel heaven!

The artists and articles in the magazine inspired me and gave me so many ideas for my own daily painting practice. It has been an invaluable tool for me. I dreamed of one day being 'good enough' to have my work in the magazine. I had my first break with a mention in an article on studio spaces written by the wonderful Deborah Secor. I was thrilled. But then I was honored to be a part of an article on painting flowers in the June 2014 issue. And to make it even better my painting made the cover! I was beyond thrilled.

I am thrilled again to share that I have an article in this month's issue of Pastel Journal. It is actually a column on planning a painting. You'll have to get a copy of the magazine or better yet subscribe to read my article!  I know you won't regret making this magazine a part of your art study!

using a push pin to create texture and detail 

Saturday, January 07, 2017

From the Archives: How to Paint a Winter Landscape

'Winter Silence'              8x10             pastel             ©Karen Margulis         SOLD
Enjoy today's timely post from the archives!

I like to paint winter landscapes in the winter. Some prefer to paint them in the heat of the summer. A bit of respite from the heat. I can understand that. I like to paint a warm summer beach to take the chill off a cold winter day.  But I still prefer to paint winter when it is cold.  I feel like I can relate to the cold iciness of the snow when I actually feel cold. And it helps to be able to observe the snow and the bare winter trees live and in person!

It was cold outside when I painted this demo. It has been cold everywhere including Georgia!  I enjoyed painting it and I am excited to share the detailed demo notes in my latest download available in my Etsy shop.  I love sharing my mini demos here on the blog but these monthly demo downloads allow me to go in depth and share step by step my thoughts and techniques.  

This demo focuses on how to paint the colors in snow and snow shadows and how I create the illusion of detail without really putting in a lot of detail....suggestions of detail is what I try to do.  Bare winter trees are the perfect subject for minimizing detail.

This demo is 22 pages with 40 color photos. It is available as a PDF download for $6. You can view or on your computer or print it out. Here is the link to the Winter Demo

If you haven't tried my monthly pastel demos I have the last 5 available in a bundle for $24 here.

The front of my Demo PDF

suggesting bare winter trees

shapes and colors = suggested detail

Friday, January 06, 2017

Painting Frost with Pastels

'Winter Lace'          8 x 10       pastel       ©Karen Margulis
available $150
It is something I have been wanting to do. I had some downtime during the holidays and decided it was the perfect time to tackle this little project. I took my favorite wildflower, Queen Anne's Lace and painted them in all four seasons. They  gave me a head start on my #Painttime2017 project!  I started with winter.

It was the winter version of the QA Lace that gave me the idea for this series. I had started a frosty version of a stand of dried wildflowers a few years ago. The painting was abandoned in the unfinished object pile. I rescued it and gave it some finishing marks.

closeup view
I thought about how I could paint the illusion of frost on these dried flower heads. Here are some of the things I decided to try:

  • I tried to use all cool colors. Red violet was the warmest color and I used dark, middle and light values of this color.
  • I kept my palette limited and again on the cool side. Purples and blue-greens. No white though.
  • I didn't use pure white to depict the frost. Instead I used very light values of the main colors in the painting. Note the pale blues, blue-greens and violets. They are almost but 'not quite whites'
  • I sprayed the painting with workable fixative (Blair) and very lightly scumbled these pale pastels over the sprayed areas. This left a light haze of 'frost'
  • I used the tip of a pale blue Nupastel to draw some fine lines to indicate frost covered grasses and stems.
Painting note: this painting was done on an Ampersand Pastebord. I haven't used this surface in awhile and I really enjoyed it!