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Tuesday, April 02, 2013

C is for Color Chaos in a Painting

'Dune Colors'          10x10          pastel      ©Karen Margulis  sold
 Color.  The very thing that draws us to the pastel medium is the thing that can get us into trouble. If you get too many colors going on in a painting it can lead to Color Chaos.  It's so easy to do though.  All of the wonderful colors are right there in our boxes. It is just too convenient to pick up color after color with wild abandon.   Before you know it you end up with a painting full of unrelated colors.

There is a solution. It takes a little bit of planning and discipline but the resulting color harmony is worth it!

1.  Have a plan for your color and do some small color thumbnail studies.

2. Work with a limited palette and choose the pastels you will use before you start painting.

My butcher tray of pastels used for today's painting

Finished painting with the Black and white thumbnail and color study
For the past couple of years I have gotten into the habit of pre-selecting the colors I will use for a painting and arranging them by value on a butcher tray.  This helps me keep a limited palette and not be distracted by the overwhelming number of pastel in my studio box.

Sometimes I would also do a small color study but like value thumbnails I wasn't consistent with them.  But I realize that when I do the value and color studies the resulting paintings tend to be more successful.  It will now be a part of my painting process. I will consider them as a dress rehearsal for the actual painting....the warm up!

I will be posting more on doing color thumbnails after the A-Z Challenge so be sure to stay tuned!


Kristin Heslop said...

Thank you so much for your wonderful art, blog, and videos! I'm new to the world of art and pastels, and I really appreciate your willingness to share what you know (especially about green)!

Karen said...

Thank you Kristin! I appreciate you visiting my blog!!

Beth said...

Hi Karen - I have a question. I noticed a little value scale square on one of your thumbnails. Can you explain why and how you use it? Thanks!
I'm heading to LA for a McKinley workshop all next week. I'm preparing intensely for it - re-reading his book, getting supplies organized. Very excited! I just watched your "greens" video - so very helpful once again!

PS: Looking forward to meeting you in person at IAPS!

Indigo Janson said...

For some reason it fascinates me to see artists' palettes alongside an image of a finished piece (beautiful, by the way, and very peaceful). Somewhere inbetween, magic happens.

Karen said...

Hi Beth,
How exciting to be going to a McKinley workshop! He's the best!!! The little value scale you saw is just a test of the colors I will be using for the block in. I chose 4 colors to match the 4 values I have in my black and white thumbnail. I will be writing more about this process soon!
Have a great time!!

Karen said...

Thank you Indigo for your comment!! Much appreciated and I apologize for the captcha thingie...I get way too much spam without it!

Anonymous said...

Dress rehearsal. That's a good description and reason to do it.

Kelsey L. said...

I just stumbled across your blog and really appreciate what you have to say! Thank you for this post in particular -- I'm an oil painter who has been trying to sharpen her sense of color, so this is just the tip that I needed -- a color sketch is brilliant! I too often find myself starting out a painting and half-way through realizing the colors aren't quite right. I will be trying this with my next work, thank you so much!