Saturday, October 27, 2012

5 Tips for Painting Vibrant Yellow Foliage with Pastels

'Aspen Gold'        12x16          pastel        ©Karen Margulis sold


I should be getting the studio ready for next Saturday's Open Studio but I couldn't resist painting this morning. I was going through my photos and found some Aspens in their Fall foliage . I LOVE Aspens and wish we had them here in Georgia.

Painting the yellow foliage was going to be my challenge. I don't know about anyone else but I find yellows to be tricky with pastels. It is hard to get them as bright, clean and vibrant as I want to.  I am always looking for ideas to help me with yellows and I'd like to share five of my favorite techniques.

Gouache Underpainting

  • Try a yellow underpainting under the areas that will be yellow. It gives your yellows a head start. For this painting I did a gouache underpainting.
  • Use your softest pastels. The softer pastels have more pigment and I can get juicier marks with them. This way the yellows don't mix with the colors underneath as easily keeping the yellows pure. In this painting I took an extra step and dusted soft yellow pastel pieces on the painting and rolled them with a rolling pin to set them into the paper.  (see my post on this Dusting Technique HERE)
  • Try to mix warm and cool yellows in the areas that you are painting yellow. I find that if I place warm yellows next to cool yellows, the color looks more alive and vibrant.
  • When building up your layers of Yellow, start with a darker yellow or an orange yellow so the lighter and more intense yellows will stand out in contrast to these darker areas.
  • Use the compliment of yellow....Purple!  Using the complimentary color purple or violet next to the yellow intensifies it and makes it appear more vibrant. Be sure not to mix the yellow and purple or you will get muddy color.
I hope these tips are helpful. I use these techniques whenever I am painting things that have big areas of yellow such as sunflowers!  Do you have any tips for using yellow? I'd love to hear them.

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