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Thursday, August 08, 2013

Developing a 'What If' Attitude

'The Most Delicious Cake in the World'             8x10          pastel        ©Karen Margulis
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 This summer is the summer of 'What If'.  I have always approached painting with a willingness to try new things. But it seems I am asking the 'what if' questions more than ever. And it is very liberating and a lot of fun. Who know where my new discoveries will take my work. As my friends like to say it is all about the journey.

I am planning to encourage this 'What If Attitude' in my students this fall. I want us all to approach our paintings without fear and without hesitation. I want us to be able to feel free to ask ourselves questions as we paint and try different approaches...to act on the ideas we come up with without being afraid that we aren't 'doing it right' or that people won't like what we are doing.

A 'What If' attitude is when you ask yourself the question 'what if' or 'what would happen if'. For example I am often asked by students about the colors they should use for an underpainting. I tell them there is no magic formula and that we must try out many variations before our choices become intuitive. So asking yourself "What if I used complementary colors' or "what would happen if I used cool colors in my underpainting?" are the kinds of questions that help you discover your own solutions.

Take this piece of cake for example.

 This cake painting started out as yellow flowers. I didn't like it so I tried all kinds of things to make it better. I spritzed it with water, I added more pastel, I washed it off, I added Golden Acrylic ground for texture. But it still was awful. I didn't give up though and asked myself 'what if I turned the flowers into a piece of cake?' So I wet it all down again and started over. I liked the cake and I like the residual texture from the old painting.
But it was still lacking something. So I asked myself "what if I used some Golden's coarse molding paste and applied it to the cake like icing?" And the best thing happened. The paste picked up the color of the pastel and I was able to move it around and paint with it. It dried the color of the pastel and I was able to scumble fresh pastel over the dried paste.

The What if attitude led to a wonderful discovery for me. And oh was it ever fun!

And a note about materials: all of this abuse wouldn't have been possible without using a Pastel Panel by Multimedia Artboard. I absolutely LOVE this surface!


1 comment:

pattisjarrett said...

From flowers to cake, amazing. I'm glad to hear modeling paste works with pastels. I like using it in other mixed media.