Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Aspen Tree Painting Demo...4 Seasons of Aspens

'Winter Aspens' 8x10 pastel ©Karen Margulis
Underpaintings are wonderful for pastels but I don't always do them. Today's mini demo is a pastel painting done with no underpainting. I am working on Canson Mi-Tientes Moonstone color paper. I don't do an underpainting on this surface because I love the warm gray tone of the paper and don't mind it peeking through. I have a working method that I always follow when doing a landscape without an underpainting. Sometimes I will blend in the first layer but for this painting I did not blend. Read on:
  1. (from top left) After a light sketch I start by massing in the darkest values. I use three colors that are the same value. I am using my softer pastels..Ludwigs,Great Americans and Townsends.
  2. Next I usually block in the lightest values which in the landscape is most often the sky. In this painting it will be the sunlit snow so I block in the shadows in the snow which are influenced by the blue sky. My shadows are warmer blue closest to the foreground then get pale purple then pale cool blue.
  3. Now I paint the blue sky with a mix of warm and cool blues.I make skyholes in the fir trees with the darkest blue from my sky colors.
  4. Next I refine the distant fir trees using some cooler, greyer and lighter value greens in the distant trees. After that I start building up the color in the Aspen tree trunks. I start with a mid value purple, green, gold and peach. I will layer several colors in a middle value before I add the dark scar marks and the lightest colors. Aspen trunks being 'white' reflect the colors in the surroundings so I don't paint them white. I now add the light values to the snow. I use pale values of yellow and pink...no white! The distant snow is a dull rosy pink.
  5. Making sure I have the shadow side of the tree trunks in place, I start adding the darker marks with a dark purple. I don't use black.
  6. The last thing I do is put in some thin branches with a dark purple Nupastel and I put in the light 'sunlit' areas on the Aspen trunks. I use the same pastels that I used for the snow.Finished!
Scroll down to see my Aspen paintings from Spring, Summer and Fall.

'Spring Aspens' 8x10 pastel
'Summer Aspens' 8x10 pastel
'Autumn Aspens' 11x14 pastel

If you would like to read more about working on Canson Mi-Tientes read my post HERE

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