Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Challenges of Painting the Spring Landscape

'A Walk in the Woods' 8x10 pastel ©Karen Margulis
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Spring has arrived in the Southeast and it is a great time of year to be an artist! I love to paint the Spring landscape but it does have it's challenges. I have put together some thoughts about painting Spring and would like to share them in the next few posts. Let me begin with some of the characteristics of the Spring landscape.
  • Color is everywhere but there is less contrast than in other seasons.
  • Colors tend to be pale and warm: creams, pinks and yellow greens with bursts on intense colors in some flowers such as hot pinks,reds,corals and purples.
  • New Spring growth can often resemble a paler softer version of Autumn colors.
  • There are also some bright 'acid' intense greens that appear in the landscape.
  • Soft edges of new growth can create an overall fuzziness and softness to the landscape.
Keeping these characteristics in mind the first thing I do when I want to paint the colors of Spring is select my pastels. I set aside a group of pastels that I will use for my Spring landscapes.
My Spring Landscape Pastel Palette

This is my Spring pastel palette. It is an assortment of Terry Ludwig, Great American and Diane Townsend pastels. If you want to paint bright intense blossoms it is important that you have these colors. You can't make them from other colors so you need to have those bright corals, fuchsias and hot pinks. (a good excuse for the Terry Ludwig Vibrant color set!) I balance these bright colors with the softer, paler, grayer colors such as peaches, mauves, yellow-greens. Finally I choose an assortment of greens from cooler to warm and I make sure to include some bright, acidy greens. These artificial looking greens actually make wonderful accents in a Spring landscape. I used this palette to paint today's painting of the dogwoods on bloom.

Since there is an overall lack of contrast in the Spring landscape it is easy to get paintings that appear washed out or wishy washy or dare I say too sweet! Tomorrow I will share some ideas for handling the challenges of painting the Spring Landscape.

3 comments:

Julie Ford Oliver said...

I am not a pastel painter but I love what you do. This piece captures the new blossoms or leaves so beautifully.

Dottie Hoeschen said...

Beautiful painting! Spring is just barely beginning up here in PA, and your painting makes me want to speed it up.

robertsloan2art said...

Great post. I love your painting. The palette is beautiful too, it made me smile and remember how much I like those bright new-leaf greens.