|'A Perfect Day' 11x14 pastel ©Karen Margulis|
Where does the water go? How much grass to put in? What to do with the foreground? These are all questions I ask myself when painting a marsh. There are many ways to deal with these issues but I find myself returning to my favorite technique for many of my marsh paintings.
First I need to say....I only use my reference photos for a general idea or inspiration. That is the most important thing to remember. I don't try to copy what I see....if I want to change the course of the water I will. If I want to change the foreground...no problem! Here is my favorite technique for the foreground ....
I try to keep the foreground unfinished and loose.
|My reference photo|
The goal is to invite the viewer into the painting....to come in and enjoy the whole thing. So how do I accomplish this?
|close up of water in the grasses....high tide|
- Try wet underpaintings. In this painting I did an alcohol wash. This gave me a darkish mysterious foreground with some interesting drips. Leaving a lot of this underpainting showing is a great way to keep the mystery.
- Keep the foreground darkish. I avoid putting a lot of light or bright intense colors in the immediate foreground (especially near the edges of the paper.)
- Keep it simple. See my post yesterday for an idea about painting the grasses.
- Use workable fixative or alcohol spray. If you find you got too busy with your foreground...happens to me all the time! Give it a spray of fixative. The fixative will darken and fix the pastel. The next layer of pastel will now have some great texture.
- Watch your water! I try to avoid having a dense stream of water going off the page at the foreground...especially in the corners. Sometimes I like to let the water spill over at the foreground to appear as high tide or a wet spot in the marsh. (see close up photo)