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Sunday, April 07, 2013

G is for Grass...My Favorite Tips for Painting Grasses

'Autumn Warm Up'           12 x 12    pastel      ©Karen Margulis
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Many a good landscape painting has been ruined by grass.  It's true!  There is something about painting a field of grass that causes many artists to get carried away.  I do it myself when I am not paying attention.  Three things happen frequently when trying to paint a grassy area.

  1. The artist isn't focused and puts in blades of grass randomly. A piece here , another over there and before you know it there are spotty blades of grass with no purpose or direction.
  2. The artists gets so caught up in the painting of the grass blades that they over-do it.  Rather than putting in a few pieces of well placed grass...there are too many and not anything left to the viewer's imagination.
  3. The artist paints grass that looks like a child's work. I don't mean to sound harsh because it is something that happens without our knowledge.  What happens is that our brain tries to help us paint grass using the symbol we have...how we drew grass as a child. We end up with a fence of rigid rows of grass.
So what can we do to improve the way we paint grasses with pastels?   ROLL THEM!

Using the rolling technique
Rolling the pastel creates much more painterly grasses than when we just try to draw them.  You need to use a round pastel for this technique. Hard or soft will work with each giving a different result. (see chart below)  All you do is place the top edge of the round pastel on the paper and push and roll it across the paper until you get the grass length you need. Here are a few tips:

The results of rolling with some round pastels

  • Vary the pressure as you roll to get a broken line which looks more natural.
  • Change the direction of your marks so that you don't end up with a line of fence of grasses....this creates a visual barrier.
  • Use harder pastels such as Rembrandts and Art Spectrum to get a finer line with more control.
  • Use a softer pastel such as a Sennelier or Schminke for a chunkier grass. The softer pastel fives a more textured grass.
  • Pay attention where you place each grass.....every blade of grass should have a purpose. I like to use my grasses to help move the eye around the painting.
Have fun with painting grass and don't forget to Roll the pastel!  I will share other techniques in future posts.


Marian Fortunati said...

Great tips... now if only I could transfer that to a brush with oils... well perhaps I can figure it out.
You're right... grasses are important and I for one always have trouble with them.

Thanks, Karen!

Cindy said...

Oh wow! Thank you for a fabulous tip! I am new to pastels and loving all your wonderful tips, tricks and advice.

Anonymous said...

Great tips on grass. I'd never have thought to roll the pastel - great idea! Thanks.

angela j simpson said...

thank you - I'll give it a go. Your painting is wonderful - I love that haziness you get with swathes f grass and you have captured it beautifully. I'm really enjoying your blogs

Anonymous said...

I think you mentioned this before, but I had already forgotten. I need to get outside now that it's warm and find some grass to paint! Thanks for sharing your expertise.