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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Try This to Keep a Painting Loose

'Roadside Profusion'      9x12      pastel     ©Karen Margulis
I couldn't decide what to paint today.  I have a couple of commissions to work on but both require some detail and precision. I wasn't in the mood for detail. I wanted to paint something loose and free. A field of poppies fit my mood.  How could I paint them so that they appeared loose and expressive?  Here is a technique that always helps me stay loose.....a watercolor underpainting.

Watercolor underpainting for 'Roadside Profusion'
I love doing a watercolor underpainting because the results are so unpredictable. The colors drip, bloom and bleed into each other. You end up with a loose abstract looking underpainting. It is now up to you to decide just how much pastel you will use on top of the underpainting.

It is always my goal to let the underpainting guide me and to allow parts of it to peek through the pastel. Sometimes I am more successful than others but I always enjoy seeing where the underpainting leads me. Looking at such a ethereal underpainting helps remind me to keep my pastel application just as ethereal. I try to keep my edges soft until the very end of the painting where I decide where to put in some harder edges at the area of interest.

I like to build up light layers of pastel that I apply with a very light touch....Whisper I remind myself. I work quickly to build up a few light layers before putting in a few marks of heavier pastel for the finishing touches.

If you have never tried watercolor under pastel or haven't tried it in awhile have a look at my previous posts on tips for watercolor underpaintings HERE.

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