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Wednesday, May 22, 2019

I Came Home Inspired! Workshop Review

'Mountain Meadows'      16x20             pastel              ©Karen Margulis  
 Last weekend I went back to the mountains. It was the 4th team workshop I taught with Marsha Hamby Savage who was my first pastel instructor.  We always have a great time and this was no exception. We had the privilege of sharing with 15 wonderful artists. They were a talented and hard working group. We shared with them but I was the one who came away inspired!

At every workshop I meet the most wonderful people. Artists are the best! We get one another. And I enjoy every minute of getting to know the artists in the class. As one of the artists put it.....we not only learn about painting techniques from the instructor we learn so much more from one another  I always come away from a workshop with a list of new ideas and tools to try. I ca't wait to share them with you!

Here are a few photos from the workshop. This is actually the last workshop I have planned for 2019. I do have some availability late August-early September and late November -December of 2109. If you are part of a group that would like to host me send me and email and let's talk!

A place by the river

A couple of quick field studies
This was both a pastel and oil Plein air workshop. Marsha did 2 oil demos and I did my demos in pastel. We held the first day's class inside at the Blue Ridge Mountains Art Association. This allowed us to go over some of the basics of planning and starting a plein air painting.  I shared my plein air philosophy of doing small field studies. The Queen Anne's Lace painting was my demo ...larger than my usual plein air paintings but I wanted everyone to be able to see my demo!

The second day we met at Marsha's cabin on the Toccoa River. We gathered down by the river at a neighbor's deck for Marsha's oil demo. While she shared with the class I did a couple of quick field studies. In the afternoon I did a demo with a watercolor underpainting. (I'll share in another post)

Make a plan first!

Marsha on the deck doing an oil demo

Marsha's demo in progress
 The third and last day came too quickly! We met at the cabin again and both Marsha and I did a morning demo before the class was turned loose to paint until early afternoon. We ended the workshop with a sharing session and it was a wonderful opportunity to see and hear from each of the artists as they shared their work.

Day three demos

Monday, May 20, 2019

A Simple but Important Item to Bring to Workshops (and IAPS Conventions)

'Meadow Walk'               14x11               pastel               ©Karen Margulis
ask about availability
 Oh how I wish someone had told me about this. If I could go back in time I would have it with me for every pastel workshop and IAPS convention. It isn't too late to start though and I want to share this idea with you so you can also get started. What is the item I wish I had?


When I was teaching my recent workshop for the Pastel Society of Southern California I was asked by several artists to sign their pastel box. I was honored to of course and it was so cool to see the signatures of some of my favorite pastel artists on their boxes.  I have taken some great workshops over the years and I would have loved to have the signature of the wonderful artists I studied with.

So the next time you are going to a workshop be sure to pack a Sharpie marker or two. And if you are going to the IAPS convention a sharpie is a great idea to have in your day pack. Even if you aren't taking a pastel box you could have your favorite artists sign your program cover or swag bag!

I am in high gear planning my demo for IAPS on Strategies for Beautiful Wildflowers and my presentation on Social Media for artists. If you are going to IAPS and have some openings in your schedule, I'd love for you to join me!

Sunday, May 19, 2019

New Video Release: Pastel Demo on Pastelmat Paper!

Lavender Study 5x7 pastel
I just released a video demo to my YouTube channel! This was a video I shared on my Patreon Page last July. I thought you might find it helpful as we approach summer travel season! Click on the link below to see the video and enjoy this pst from the archives!

 I really don't know where to begin. It has taken me a couple of days since returning home from France to get caught up. I am not sure it has all sunk in yet. I had the most amazing and magical two weeks in Provence and I think I left a part of me there.

I came home filled with memories and inspiration.....and goodies. I have a duffle bag full of interesting finds from my trip. I also have 40 paintings done on my trip and over 3000 photos! That's a lot of inspiration and I will begin to sort them and find a way to share them here with you. As for my past summer trips I will be writing a detailed trip report and sharing some of my photos and paintings. I hope you will follow along and enjoy the virtual trip to Provence.

I'll start with the paintings. I came home with 40 small paintings. Each one is 5x7 and was painted either plein air or from the photos I was taking on the trip. It was very hot. I found that a good time to paint was inside the sunlit kitchen during the hottest part of the day. The light was wonderful and I was comfortable. Here are some photos of my set up:

My travel set up was based around my Heilman single sketchbox
 My pastel set up was perfect for this trip. It wasn't a painting trip. In fact only one other travel mate was an artist. I wasn't sure how much time I would have to paint  and I was determined to travel light.  I didn't want to be bogged down with a big box of pastels and an easel. Here is what I used. It all fit into a zippered book cover and that fit easily in my backpack.

  • Heilman single sketchbox was the perfect size. It has one section for pastels and can be used as a pochade box. To get the maximum use of the space I used Girault pastels that I broke in half.(I had the two Richard McKinley sets and fit most of them in the box. Girault pastel are wonderful because they are firm yet go on soft....they are great for travel.
  • To supplement the Giraults I filled a small Nupastel box with some broken pieces of Nupastels, I chose them because the harder Nupastels work great with the softer Giraults and they also travel well. The small thin box fir into the pocket of my book cover.
  • My Purple box! If you look closely at the photo you can see a small tin box. It has a selection of Terry Ludwig violets. I knew I would be painting lavender and I would need some good purples. I am so glad I brought this small selection of violet pastels.
  • Paper and Itoya portfolio to hold paper and finished paintings. I precut 45 pieces of pastel paper in 5x7 size. I used an assortment of paper including Pastelmat, Uart, Wallis warm mist and some homemade surfaces with clear gesso. I filled a 5x7 Itoya portfolio book with the papers and as I finished a painting I would slip it back inside the book. This kept my papers and paintings safe and clean.
  • A piece of 5x7 foamcore covered with a clearable plastic bag for protection. This was my painting board. I used small Banker's clasps to hold the paper in place.
  • NO easel. I worked flat either on my lap or at a table or countertop. Since I was working small It worked well without an easel. It was liberating!

Another look at my set up. After a painting session I just recycled the used newspaper.

I got into a good painting routine and usually managed to paint 4 painting each day. I am looking forward to interpreting these paintings and using the photos I took to paint larger studio paintings but there is something very special about the paintings I did while in Provence. I'd like to think they are infused with the magic I was feeling. 

Friday, May 17, 2019

Impressive Wave Paintings in Pastel

Wave Paintings by my Patreon Artists!

I have been blown away by the wave paintings that have been shared by the artists on my Patreon Community page! Take a look at the collage at the top of this post. These are paintings done by patrons and shared on the community page after my wave demo last week. What I love about them is how unique they all are even though everyone was working from the same photo. This is pastel mark making in action. We all have our own personal calligraphy with mark making. It is like our handwriting. Can you see it here? It is so much fun to see artists embrace a subject they may not have painted before and rock it!
Here are some more wave paintings that were shared this past week. I am so impressed and happy to see my patrons have fun painting. You can see the joy in these waves!
More wave paintings done by my Patrons
You can join in on all the fun on my Patreon Page. It is like my blog on steroids! New lessons and videos every week. Give it a try:
And thank you to all of you who are already patrons. I appreciate your support!

Thursday, May 16, 2019

What Happens to Pastels after Six Weeks of Travel

'Summer Enchantment'             5 x 11.5        plein air pastel              ©Karen Margulis
Since we have been exploring traveling with pastels in recent posts I thought I'd share this post from the archives. In 2017 I spent 6 weeks traveling with a box of pastels. See what happened !

I am home. It has been a whirlwind of travel beginning in June with two weeks in New Mexico for the IAPS convention. Then on to Europe for four weeks. My careful planning paid off. Everything went smoothly except for a couple of mishaps that ended well. (and gave me material for better stories!) I packed well and my luggage made it through it all. It is always a relief to see your suitcase on the belt at baggage claim!

What about the pastels and supplies? Did I plan well enough? Did I have enough supplies for 6 weeks of painting and teaching? I am happy to report that the answer is YES! Have a look:

The BEFORE shot
I wanted to travel light. My goal was to fit all of my art supplies in my backpack. I managed to do this although I traveled with my tripod in my suitcase. Click here for a blog post about the supplies I brought.
I brought a Heilman double sketchbox filled with an assortment of Terry Ludwig and Girault pastels. The photo above shows the box before I started my travels.

The AFTER shot
The pastels are a little dusty but held up quite well. Most importantly I selected a good variety of colors. I was able to paint everything from the New Mexico arid landscape to the beaches and wheat fields of Normandy to the lush countryside of Sweden and Finland. I only purchased two pastels on the road....a pale yellow Unison and a pale pink Sennelier.  I had a good variety of colors/values and spices which made it a very versatile collection. There was no color I would eliminate!

I am very pleased with the Heilman double sketchbox. It protected the pastels well except for the day I had overloaded a row and a few were broken. I loved how small and light it is. It fit on my tripod with the easel adapter which made set up quick and easy. I never chose not to paint because I dreaded setting up! It was painless.

So just how much abuse did this box take in six weeks? Here are the figures:

  • Nine plane flights.  The box was in my carryon except for one time but then my suitcase was 1 pound over the limit! 
  • Eight times through security and the box was flagged for inspection Sweden and in Charlotte NC. They didn't open the box just swabbed and asked about it.
  • Three long distance train trips.
  • Two bus rides.
  • One shuttle ride.
  • Countless van and car trips. Imagine this box in a backpack being thrown in and out of vehicles as we traveled to new locations and painting spots.
My final thoughts....This box and set up is a winner! It served me well and allowed me not only to paint for myself but to paint many demos both in France and Finland. After I clean the pastels and place some of the smaller broken pieces I will be ready to go again!

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

How to Create An Exciting Pastel Effect

'Sky Shimmer'              8x10                pastel              ©Karen Margulis
available $150

It was one of those so called happy accidents. I didn't do it on purpose and when it happened I thought about changing it. After all it wasn't in my plan. But I decided to embrace it and it opened a door to something exciting! Lesson learned.

I was choosing pastels to use for my evening sky painting. I picked out some darks for the shadows, some middle values and finally some lights for the illuminated part of the sky. I don't usually pay too much attention to the exact color. I am more interested in getting the value I need. So I was hunting for a very light value blue green....almost white. I was excited to find just the right piece of pastel....until I made a mark.

It sparkled!  It shimmered! It was glittery and shiny! It was a Great American Pearlescent blue pastel and a piece somehow made it into my big pastel box. 

I made another mark. And another. I started to like the resulting shimmer in my sky. It was an accident but I was happy! So I pulled out the box of pearlescent pastels from my shelf and finished the sky and the foreground with some of these beautiful pastels.  I now have a new use for all of those pearlescent pastels I've collected....Sky Shimmer!

A closer look at the shimmer of the iridescent pastels
It is a bit difficult to see the shimmer and sparkle of the pastel in a photo but it is really special in person!

Monday, May 13, 2019

Do Not Forget This if You are Going to IAPS 19

'Red Rock Country'            8x10            pastel           ©Karen Margulis

The moment has arrived. You are finally at the IAPS convention. You have picked up your registration packet and dumped it out on your hotel bed. OH the wonderful things to read! It is real now. Then you see the badge. And a little pin. Your name is on it. It IS real. You pinch yourself. You are at the IAPS convention .....the biggest pastel party on the planet!

Let's talk about the badge. Before my first IAPS convention I had never attended a real convention. I had no idea of the importance of wearing the badge. But is IS important. It gives you access to the convention and all of the convention activities. It is kind of like the security badges we might have to wear at our job. It is important the we wear our badges during the convention.

The badge serves another important is your introduction to all of your new pastel friends! It allows everyone to see your name and your pastel society. The badge is a conversation starter! Wear it with joy and pride! You are a member of this very special tribe!

IMPORTANT TIP:   Plan to wear your badge at all times during the convention. (OK... you can take it off when you sleep!) And if you have been to past conventions DON'T FORGET to bring your old convention pins. It is customary to put your old pins on your badge. Pack them right now!!!

My convention badge with pins form all of the conventions I attended

A happy pastelist!
About the painting in today's post: It was a painting I started at one of the convention workshops with Bill Creevy. It is on Multimedia Artboard. I finished it at home and it was sold to a good friend.

Friday, May 10, 2019

The Paper Mystery Has Been Solved!

'A Peaceful Interlude'             9x12              pastel            ©Karen Margulis
inquire about availability 
The mystery has been solved! A couple of weeks ago I shared a painting done on a mystery paper. I had this paper in a sampler pack that was gifted to me.  Many of you wrote to me with their thoughts about the paper. Thank you for your ideas! 

 Someone recommend that I write to Dakota Pastels and ask if they knew what the paper was. It was a great idea. Dakota Pastels is a pastelists paradise. They carry everything we  need.( and want)  And they had the answer to my question!

Below is another painting I did on a red piece of the no-longer-a-mystery paper!

Red Sabretooth phase 2 paper in red

Shortly after I sent my email I got an answer from April and then from Craig Lemley with Dakota. They mystery was solved! Read the note below for the answer from Craig. 

Hi Karen,
Thanks for your email.
This paper was an iteration of St. Armands Sabretooth Pastel Paper. Sabretooth has gone thru 3 distinct phases. The first was produced on a very smooth/slick paper stock and was quite well liked. They changed and started putting the same surface on a  paper they were producing themselves at their small paper mill in Canada - this one I call the 'paper towel' version. This is the one shown in the images you sent. It has that distinct 'waffly' texture. This version was pretty much universally disliked. The third version was still on a paper they produced, which was smooth, not having the pronounced (or any) paper texture. 
We carried the Sabretooth until about 4 or 5 years ago, when St; Armand decided they were going to phase it out. Since then, they occasionally make some, but due to the inconsistent availability we have not brought it back in. The last word from a recent discussion is that they are seriously considering making it a stock item. They also intend to revisit the color selection (some were quite gaudy) when it comes back. This last discussion was in February and I have not heard anything since. 
Craig Lemley/Dakota

So there we have it. I am happy to have the mystery solved. I have a couple of pieces remaining and I will just enjoy them. 

You can really see the texture of the paper in this photo

I rubbed in the first layer which helped the layering process a bit. 

A close up of some of the texture in the paper

Wednesday, May 08, 2019

Reimagining A Reference Photo for a Commission

'Back to the Shore'                11x14                pastel               ©Karen Margulis
 I don't mind doing commission paintings. Especially when you are working with someone that gives you the freedom to work with the reference and make changes. The best kind of commission is when you are told "I trust you".  This was the case with this beach commission. I loved the photo but it had compositional issues. Have a look at the photo below. What problems does it have? What would you do to redesign the scene? (scroll down to read what I decided to do and why)

The reference photo and my redesigned sketch

The issue with the photo is the arrangement of the clumps of beach grass. The way they are presented in the photo creates a visual barrier to enter into the rest of the painting. Look at how the grass goes across the entire foreground. It is dense and much of it is the same height adding to the feeling of a barrier.

The catch was the client loved the grasses. That is what drew her to the scene. So I had to be careful about removing too much grass! She gave me permission to remove some as long as I agreed to add some back if she wanted more. So I knew they were important!

  • I wanted to create a subtle pathway through the grasses to lead back to the beach and sea. 
  • I didn't want the somewhat cliched beach scenes with a clump of grass on each side of a center path. (I've done those before!)
  • I chose to move the center clump over the the left slightly. This opened up a subtle path just right of center. 
  • I chose to vary the height and thickness of the taller grasses and eliminate any tall grass in the center. 
  • Look for the thin dark piece of grass near the center that is directing the eye to the break in the grasses leading us to the sea.

Below I am showing a photo of the underpainting. I used pastel with an alcohol wash on 11x14 mounted white pastel premier sanded paper. 

My out of focus underpainting done with an alcohol wash

Tuesday, May 07, 2019

10 Must Have Items for Your IAPS19 Backpack

'Passing Storms'               16x20                pastel             ©Karen Margulis
available $350

It's that time again! The IAPS convention is just around the corner and it is time to get organized. This will be my fifth time going to the biennial convention of the International Association of Pastel Societies. I'll be going as an instructor and representing the Southeastern Pastel Society. I've started my packing process. I've already shipped my boxes of demo supplies to a friend in Albuquerque and I have started to organize the rest of the stuff I need. I want to pack as light as possible but still have the things I need to be comfortable and productive.

One of the things I always have when I travel is some kind of day pack or bag. This bag has all the necessities to make a day of exploring enjoyable. When attending a convention such as IAPS it is great to carry a bag or pack so that you can enjoy the festivities and events without having to go back to your hotel room.  I'd like to share my list of the 10 things you should have in your day pack. (keep reading even if you aren't going to IAPS since these things are great for all general travel.

Be prepared and ready for fun!

Everything fits in the bag. I love Baggallini bags! 

1. Cell phone/ charger or power cube
Be sure to bring your smart phone. You'll want it to take photos, show your work, check time and weather. You might want a charging cube to charge your phone on the go especially if you are not staying at the convention hotel or don't have time in between sessions  Bring a camera or tablet for photos if you don't use your phone for photos. ****This year you will want your phone to use the new convention App! Details coming soon!!****
Be sure to put your phone on silent during the demos and workshops and take photos only during photo breaks so as not to block the view.

2. Snacks
 Snacks are always good. What if you spend too much time in the expo and you're running late to your next session?....a healthy power snack will come in handy.... nuts, power bars, dried fruit , a little dark chocolate will help you power through a busy day.
Choose snacks that are small, packable and individually wrapped. Bring them in your suitcase or head to a grocery store in ABQ to stock up on snacks and water. Bring some plastic baggies for your extra snacks. I like to carry a mini pack of baby wipes for cleanup.

3.  Empty Water Bottle
 Keeping HYDRATED is the most important thing you can do to keep going strong at the convention. Remember the altitude in the city of Albuquerque is over 5000 feet above sea level and altitude sickness is real. Keep hydrated. You can buy water of course but I am bringing my own Hydro flask bottle that I will keep full and in my backpack or bag at all times.
Albuquerque is also in the arid high desert so things dry out quickly. Bring your favorite moisturizer.

4. A Goody Bag
 Bring an extra foldable bag or compact bag or duffle. The kind that folds up into tiny envelopes but opens to a good size.  You might want an extra bag to carry around the goodies you find at the expo or shopping excursions around ABQ and Santa Fe. They take up no space and come in handy!
These small foldable bags are available everywhere now for just a few dollars.
I love the compact daypack from Sea to Summit which can also serve as your day pack as well as for extra goodies!

5. A lightweight jacket or sweater
 It can be cold in the convention rooms and there is nothing worse than trying to stay warm and not being able to focus on the instructor or demo. It's hard to think about carrying  a jacket when it is so hot outside but you'll be glad to have it if the air conditioner is blasting.
Typical weather for this time of year (check before you go):  highs in the 80's and lows in the 50's so a jacket will also come in handy once the sun goes down.

6.  Sunscreen, sunglasses and hat 
You will want to pull yourself away from the hotel and convention activities to explore the area. (more on that in an upcoming post)  And when you do go outside be prepared for the high desert sun with sunscreen, lip balm with spf and sunglasses. Add some extra protection with a packable hat. You'll need it if you are going to spend time outdoors exploring or painting. The high altitude intensifies the effects of the sun's rays so be safe and use sunscreen, sunglasses and wear a hat!

7. Business cards....or calling cards
Make sure you have cards with your contact info and a photo of you or your work. You will want to exchange them with your new friends! If you don't have business cards they can easily be printed on your own printer or if you are feeling creative, illustrate your own! Be sure to keep plenty of cards in your daypack!

I get my cards through and I love them!

8. A notebook and pens
You'll want to take notes while in the demos and workshops so be sure to bring a slim notebook and a few good pens. I took so many notes one year my pen ran out of ink so now I bring several of my favorite pens. Throw in a copy of the daily convention schedule so you know what is going on and where to be. Soon to be announced....there will be a Convention App to keep up with the convention events and you're schedule. Stay tuned!
I love my turquoise Moleskin notebook and Le Pen black pens. The notebook is slim and gets me in the Southwest mood!

9. Small sketchbook and pens
 Great for getting creative and making memories when you have some downtime. I don't go anywhere without a small sketchbook kit. I usually have some pens and some way to add color like the Derwent Inktense pencils and a water pen.
You might think you won't have time to sketch but it is a great way to do something creative after filling up on inspiration. I'd rather have a small kit that I don't use than regret not having one with me.

my small sketchbook kit

10. A comfort kit
 I like to put together a small pouch with comfort items such as pain reliever, bandaids, any other needed meds such as allergy pills, inhalers, etc., tums, feminine products, tissues, safety pins, Mints or gum for fresh breath. Don't forget an emery board. I always seem to need one! The kit keeps you from having to run back to the room for any needed necessity.
Putting all of these small comfort items in a zippered pouch makes for an organized pack and keeps them handy!

Did I miss anything important? Let me know what you keep in your bag in the comments. Also if you have any general IAPS questions let me know and I will answer them in my upcoming FAQ post.

Monday, May 06, 2019

Why Painting a Wave is Like a Painting a Cupcake

'Music of the Sea'                  8x10              pastel              ©Karen Margulis
available $165
 In 14 years of painting I  have only painted two waves. They are scary to me...scary to paint that is. I wasn't sure how to capture the color and light and movement. And there are so many wonderful artists who paint amazing seascapes with waves. But we are painting water over on my Patreon Page so waves are a part of the program. I had to find a way to simplify a complex subject such as a crashing wave.

I discovered that it was easy if I thought of painting a wave like painting a cupcake! Establish the dark shapes. Then layer the middle values. Add the frosting (the light) and end with the sprinkles which is the sea spray!  This allowed me to simplify the wave and attack it with a bit more confidence!

Now I have painted two more waves. And while I don't think I will ever become a wave painter I did have a lot of fun!  If you would like to see a step by step demo of this wave painting head on over to my Patreon Page. I expand on this idea of thinking of a wave like a cupcake!  For a $4 subscription you can see this demo and so much more!!

The watercolor underpainting
I used a watercolor underpainting to start the wave. I love using watercolor to start a water themed painting! I also used white  Pastel Premier paper. Watercolor is more luminous on white paper.

Saturday, May 04, 2019

Video Tip: Choosing a Plein Air Pastel Set Up

'Old Town Hollyhocks'                  5x7           Plein air pastel                  ©Karen Margulis
So maybe you are going to the IAPS convention in June. Or maybe you have a special trip planned. Maybe you want to get started in plein air or want to upgrade your equipment ....I have just released a new video to help you with this important decision about equipment. 

In the video I share my three plein air set ups. I use a different set up depending on the reason or goal for the plein air outing. You can click on the link under the photo below to see the video.

Click here to watch the video on YouTube

Food for Thought:  Good plein air equipment is expensive. But it is worth it. In my early days of plein air I experimented with many kinds of set ups all in the hopes of saving money. In the end I probably spent more on the many experiments than if I had just splurged for the good stuff right at the start! I would have saved money and frustration! 

Here I am painting in Old Town. It is an easy walk from the Hotel Albuquerque!

I like to decorate my Heilman box with decals from my travels

Here are a couple of my older blog articles on plein air equipment

Thursday, May 02, 2019

Would You Like to Learn to Paint Reflections?

'Waiting for the Sun'              8x10            pastel        ©Karen Margulis
available $165
It is Water Month on my Patreon Page! I am excited about our focus for the month. There is just so much to share about painting water. We most likely won't even be able to fit it all in in just a month! I recently asked my patrons what they would like to learn about painting water. Painting reflections was high on the list!  I have some great tips and techniques to share about painting believable reflections. They don't have to be difficult!!

Here is a quick water tip: 
When painting water with or without reflections, look at the sky for a clue. Water will reflect the sky color. And it is important to remember that the sky is NOT always blue. Our thinking brain tells us the sky is blue and water is blue. But observation tells us that this is not always true.  Look at the painting in today's post. The sky is violet and yellow. These are the colors I used in the water.

If you would like more water painting demos, videos, challenges, tips and techniques head over to my Patreon Page. Join us for just $4 or $6 monthly. You can cancel at any time so I'd love for you to join us.

Before the finishing marks

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Strategies for Successful Wildflowers Preview

A Highlight for me....the Cover of Pastel Journal in 2014
Did you know that wildflowers are just decorations? They are like the sprinkles on a cupcake. They are the jewelry used to pull an outfit together. They will only work in a landscape painting if all of the underlying elements are working. So what are these underlying elements? I will be sharing them during my upcoming demo presentation at the IAPS convention.   Here is a sneak peek at one of the tips I will be sharing:

Wildflowers appear random in nature. But when painting them it is important to carefully place them so they appear random but actually serve the important purpose of directing the eye of the viewer. 

I will be expanding on this idea and we will discover that this tip can be applied to a landscape without wildflowers as well! If you are coming to IAPS and have time on Friday afternoon I'd love for you to join us!

If you can't make it to the demo I will be sharing much more about painting wildflowers both here on my blog and on Patreon after the convention. 

Sunday, April 28, 2019

An Important Tip for Watercolor Underpaintings

'Spring Surprise'           8x10             pastel            ©Karen Margulis
ask about availability

I always hated my watercolor underpaintings. I liked the idea of doing them. It seemed like a great way to get some interesting happy accidents to respond to with pastels. But my underpaintings always looked like washed out blobs!  I persevered though and I can say now that I really like how my watercolor underpaintings turn out. A strong underpainting allows for less work with pastel! Here is one tip that I have embraced:

Take your time!  Don't rush the underpainting. Let the dark areas dry before adding more paint. Play with watercolor techniques to make your underpainting more interesting. For this underpainting I used a thin brush to draw lines in the paint. I used splatter. I allowed paint to drip. I spent just as much time on the underpainting as the pastel application.  SLOW down and enjoy the time spent on the underpainting. Your patience will pay off!

Below is the underpainting. It is 8x10 on mounted white Pastel Premier sanded paper.

I also used a paper towel to dab at the paint for texture. 

The palette I used for the painting.