Sunday, November 10, 2013

A Fun Idea for Recycling a Painting...Weekly Painting Challenge


'Autumn Joy'             8x10            pastel          ©Karen Margulis
click here to purchase $125
It needed help.  It had served it's purpose as a demo illustrating a simple block in technique.  But it was too green and unbalanced.  I could have worked on it some more and made corrections. But I wasn't feeling it. You know me...I never throw away a good piece of sanded paper so I had to rethink my subject.
If you don't feel it.....it will show.  Find a subject you can get excited about.

The original demo painting on it's side. Turn your head to see it.

I was feeling a red tree. I don't know why. Maybe because the Fall color is beautiful right now. But I saw the potential for a red tree.  I looked through my reference photos for a good red tree and found one that might work. It was vertical so I need to turn my painting on it's side.

Next I took some rubbing alcohol and a stiff bristle brush and wet down the painting. I usually don't like using alcohol on very soft pastel as it tends to get thick and gummy. It was borderline thick here but I kind of liked how opaque it was.

Pastel washed in with rubbing alcohol
 Now I can see how this might work. I can see the overcast sky on the left and the hint of still green trees on the right.  I use a piece of compressed charcoal to draw in the tree trunks. I try to make sure they trunks are not spaced too regularly.


  • After the trunks were placed I started painting the red foliage. I painted the darkest coolest reds and gradually added touched of warmer more intense reds. 
  • I break up the foliage with some sky colors. I used muted green blues....a great complement for red....think of a redhead in a blue green dress.
  • I then add some of the bright greens. I loved the greens in the original painting so I used colors close to that green.
  •  I develop the trunks using some pale values. I love light colored tree trunks
  • Final touches...I add a few red marks and add a vibrant blue to the trunks. Just a few spices!

So here is a challenge for the week:
Take out an older or unfinished or unloved painting. Turn it upside down or on it's side and see what it might become. Wash in the pastel with some rubbing alcohol. (make sure you have sanded paper)
Let me know what you did and feel free to share your results. 

I have set up a group on facebook for weekly pastel challenges. I would love to make a challenge a part of my Sunday blog post.  I welcome you to try the challenge and if you'd like to share your painting you can join the Facebook group and post your painting on the group page.  It is called The Pastel Challenge Group. here is the link https://www.facebook.com/groups/545919452161773/


3 comments:

robertsloan2art said...

Oooh wow! That is so beautiful!

The painting that didn't inspire you is lovely too, but I can see your point. I should DO this one this week. Thank you so much for these lessons!

I'm bound to find something ugly if I look through my portfolio, just hope I find something ugly on sanded paper. If it's not I'll use a rag instead of the alcohol treatment, I guess. But I'm pretty sure I can find a disappointment on sanded paper, I did use a lot of it in the past!

Karen said...

Ohhh Yay! I hope you try it! I'd love to see what you do!

Margretta S. Perry said...

Karen, this is a great idea! If the pastel is thick, even if it isn't I suppose, you can take a stiff brush and brush as much of the pastel off the surface as possible--outside or with plenty of ventilation. Then, do your magic with the alcohol wash on a much reduced pastel surface. You don't end up with the "gunky" wet pastel. Also, use a light hand with the alcohol so you don't damage the surface. I've done this when working on a pastel that wasn't going well, but not on a painting that I tucked away, in order to start completely over. Thanks!!