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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Choosing a Palette for a Sunset Painting

'Distant Light'                   11x14            pastel          ©Karen Margulis
Keeping it Simple. That was my goal for this painting. I loved the quiet mood and the intense colors in this scene. I remember it well. It was a 'drive-by' photo that I took on our way back to our motel after a day of painting. Sunset and dusk can be tricky to paint. It is a challenge to capture the colors of sunset without them looking artificial. I chose a very limited palette for this painting.

pastels used for 'Distant Light'

I used a total of 22 pastels for the painting. I usually choose my pastels in advance but this time I chose pastels from my regular studio box as I painted. I kept out the colors I used so I could reuse them if needed. You can see I ended up with mostly middle dark values with just a few lights. For the tiny lights I used a pale green and pale yellow girault pastels. My reference  photo was very dark and grey except for the orange light but I wanted my clouds to have more color. I chose blues and purples for the clouds. I chose very soft buttery Great American pastels for the oranges in the sky. I used a more intense orange than I thought I would need thinking I could always tone it down. I kept it intense!  In case you are wondering I have a variety of pastel brands in this tray including Terry Ludwigs, Great Americans and Diane Townsends.

Lesson from today's painting:
  • I was surprised at how few pastels were need to create the mood I wanted. I love working with limited palettes!
  • We don't need hundreds and hundreds of pastels (we can dream!) We can make a painting work with a few pastels. We just have to make sure our working set has a range of values and temperatures for each color.....80 to 100 pastels will work for just about anything.
Today's painting is on Wallis Belgian Mist and is 11x14.


Anonymous said...

i admire your work. how do you choose those 80-100 colors?

Karen said...

Thank you! Basically you take each of the primary and secondary colors and chose a dark, medium and light value of each. You can look at temperature too and try to find warm and cool versions of each color. I think this will be a good topic for a blog post so I can go into more detail. Stay tuned!

Oli said...

I think your painting really works. Thank you for the interesting explanation.