'The Spirit Calls' 8x10 pastel ©Karen Margulis
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Take time to plan your painting! If you are an artist I'm sure you have heard this before. Not everyone agrees with it. Some artists like to be more spontaneous and feel that planning ahead of time takes away from the inspiration and excitement for the subject. I like to be spontaneous and play at times but I also appreciate how having a plan can help me avoid a lot of the problems that can crop up as I paint. Spending time doing some planning before picking up a pastel allows me to get the thinking part of painting out of the way so I can respond more intuitively when I am painting. Having a direction for your painting helps you make good decisions and makes it easier to solve any problems. As Richard McKinley said at a lecture I attended "If you don't know WHY then you won't know WHAT". So how can we make it quick and easy to put in some planning time?
Some of My Painting Plan Worksheets ©Karen Margulis
I like worksheets. I like things to be simple and clear. And I found I would forget everything I should think about when making a painting plan. So I developed a worksheet to do before I start a studio painting. It takes me less than 20 minutes to do the worksheet and when I am finished I have plans for 5 potential paintings. Here is what I include in my worksheet
- A place for you to verbalize your concept for the painting. Why you want to paint this scene
- Working title
- Thumbnail possibility sketches...landscape, portrait, square, long and narrow.
- Value maps (notans)
- Evaluation questions such as focal area and design.
- An area for a small color study
- A place for extra notes.
Paintings completed from a Planning Worksheet
One of the great things that comes from doing the planning worksheet is that you can avoid the problem of having too much going on in one painting. You have plans for several paintings and you can easily do a series based upon your thumbnail sketches. In the above photo you can see that I came up with three variations of this Taos desert scene. I tried different papers, formats, compositions and underpaintings to give each painting a different feel.