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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

An Effective Way to Loosen Up Your Paintings

'Salty Breezes'           2.5 x 3.5        pastel       ©Karen Margulis
available on Etsy
I made another discovery yesterday!  I love when that happens. Allow me to share what happened. I decided to paint some minis.  I call the small 2.5 x 3.5 inch paintings minis but they are a popular collectable size for paintings known as aceo's or art cards.  I wanted to paint a new series to offer in my Etsy shop.

So I took out the tray of pastels I used for my last two paintings and set up at my table. I paint the minis sitting down which makes for a relaxing painting session. I quickly cut up some scraps of Wallis and Uart into the 2.5 x 3.5 size and took out my stash of beach reference photos. My theme was the beach since summer isn't over yet!

I got to work painting. My first effort was stiff and overworked. But I kept going. With each painting I felt more relaxed and comfortable with my subject. I noticed that my paintings got looser and more expressive. For some of them I didn't even look at the photo I just used the previous painting as my inspiration. I painted 8 minis in my 2 hour session. And my last one was my favorite. (top painting)

Here's what I learned:

I often recommend painting minis for painting practice. It helps you get a lot of paintings done without using a lot of paper and pastels. But I discovered today that painting them in a series is even better!
  • Painting small = less room for detail. Yes we can certainly put a lot of detail into a small space if we want to but if we use bigger chunks of pastels rather than pencils or hard sticks it is easier NOT to put the details in and less is more when it comes to painting loose.
  • Painting a series = intimacy with your subject. The more you paint the same thing the easier it will be to paint it more expressively. You are not having to study and learn all about a new subject so you can concentrate instead on putting your emotions into the mix.
  • Using a limited palette = easy color harmony. Assuming you have a selected harmonious palette to begin with, not having to choose new colors for each painting makes it easy to just paint with passion and not have to think too hard.
  • Setting a time limit!  This is important! As I got closer to lunch I told myself.."just one more" and I quickly put down my marks. The longer I spent on a painting the fussier I tended to get so the time limit really helped.

These little Beach minis are available in my Etsy shop. I am offering them at an affordable price as 'grab bag' paintings as a thank you to my wonderful readers and collectors!  Here is the Etsy link.

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