'It's a Beautiful Day' 18 x 24 pastel ©Karen Margulis
Some paintings take awhile to be born. This one has been waiting for a couple of years! It started out as a commission. The client wanted a large marsh painting with several very specific details. There was to be a jon boat and a tree with fishing nets in the foreground. The sky had to be a particular shade of blue. I got as far as blocking it in and doing the sky when the commission was cancelled due to family circumstances of the client. So I filed the painting away in a stack of foamcore pieces and forgot all about it. I discovered it a few weeks ago and not wanting to waste a big piece of paper (18x24) I starting thinking about how I could remake this painting. See the demo below for my remake.
Step by Step Remaking of a Marsh PaintingIt was fun to revisit this painting and with fresh eyes and more experience decide how to resolve it. Do you have any unfinished paintings that could use some love?
- (from top left) The initial block in for the commission. The empty places were for the boat and tree with nets. This painting is on Wallis Belgian Mist with no underpainting.
- I began by redoing the sky. I liked the intense blue but I toned it down a bit and I changed the cloud type from wispy to fluffy. I added warmth to the lower clouds and near the horizon.
- I no longer had the original reference photo so I used these photos and this little marsh painting that I did for a recent class for inspiration. I like the bright greens in the marshes.
- Next I tackled the distant island. I softened the trees and added some lighter,cooler greens. I worked in some more sky holes. I felt that the trees were too dark and sharp in the original. This is a close-up photo of the island.
- In my next step I covered up the empty spaces in the foreground with some dark burgundy Terry Ludwig pastels. I cover up some of the water because I will eventually change the course of the water.
- I want the foreground to be dark so I spray the whole marsh area with workable fixative. I use Blair which does darken the pastel but I want that here. I actually do this process a few times in the build up of the marsh colors. I like the texture I get from the fixative.
- Next I use a few different peach / orange / golden pastels on the marsh grass area. I keep my strokes horizontal in the distance. This isn't the final color of the grass but I want to make the greens more interesting. I am holding back from putting in the bright greens until the end. Patience!!
- Now I add the water in big bold strokes....lighter in the distance and darker in the foreground. I also start to add the green in the grasses. I use lighter cooler greens in the distance at first. I do go in with some bright greens at the end. Warmer darker greens in the foreground...some cool dark greens in the shadows.
- I add the finishing touches with a few...just a few pieces of grass and some sparkle on the water. I have now remade a marsh to something more my liking!