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Saturday, June 29, 2013

Mini Pastel Demo ...Morning in the Desert


'Morning Glow'      8x10     pastel          ©Karen Margulis
purchase painting in my Etsy shop $145

It's great to be back at the easel with nothing on the agenda other than paint. Oh I have lots of other things to do but I set aside the day to just paint. I have so much I want to paint that it is hard to know where to begin.  So I decided to start at the beginning of the trip.....Albuquerque.  

Today's painting is from the Elena Gallegos Open Space in Albuquerque. We arrived a day ahead of the start of the IAPS convention and ran into Stan Sperlak. He was going to paint in the morning with Kim Lordier and some other artists and invited us to meet them. We went to the location a bit later and they had moved (the gates had been closed) I was sad to have missed painting with them but I did get some nice photos of this beautiful spot.



  • I decided to do a warm underpainting with hard pastels that I rubbed in with a piece of pipe foam insulation. I call this a dry underpainting. I chose the warm colors to help me give an underlying glow to this early morning scene.
  • I am using UArt paper 600 grit and Terry Ludwig pastels.




  • I start by blocking in my darkest areas. I want to try to simplify this very busy scene. There are a lot of bushes and brushy stuff so I will be taking a lot of it our and massing as much of it as I can. After I mass in the darks I started to add lights to the sunny side of the bushes. The bush in the front is a dries chamisa so it will be lighter.





  • Next I add the blues to the distant mountain. I leave some of the peach showing since some of the mountain is lit by the sun. These are the Sandia Mountains and are pink when lit by the sun.  Finding the right blues for these distant Southwest mountains has been my challenge. I haven't found the perfect stick yet and find I have to layer several to get the effect I want.


  • Now I put in a few blues and pale yellows in the sky. I am using big bold strokes. I don't want it to be dirty looking so I try to put down my strokes and leave them alone.


  • For the next step I put down the sand. I use a duller color for the distant sand and a brighter warmer peach for the close up sand.The underpainting color helps make the sand more complex. 


  • Finally I add the details in the bushes and modify the shadows with some blue. 


After I finished this painting I used it to inspire a very abstracted version. This is something I have been wanting to do and I have been playing around with some ideas that I will share soon!


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