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Monday, September 01, 2014

So You Want to Paint Faster?

'Coming Home'           9x12              pastel            ©Karen Margulis
I guess you could say I am a fast painter. For better or worse it fits my personality. It works for me. It keeps me interested and keeps me learning. I enjoy getting a painting finished quickly and then moving on to something else. Not everyone works this way and in fact I have tried without much success to slow down and be more deliberate.  Working fast is not for everyone and in fact makes a good discussion topic for another day.

My Labor Day weekend Paint-a-thon is over with 10 painting finished in two days and the project brought up the question from a reader...."How do you paint so fast? I tend to take several days on a single painting and end up overworking it"

Such a great question. The answer has two parts: Training and Planning.
  • Training. I have been painting a daily painting for almost 10 years. Some days I may do more than one which makes up for the days I have missed. Being conservative I could say I have painted 3000 paintings or about a mile of paper. Not all were keepers but they all add up to training. Just as it takes training to run a marathon,  it takes practice to paint (and be happy with your results) Daily painting makes it easier for me to paint more efficiently and with confidence.
  • Planning. This is the key for me. I don't go up to a blank piece of paper without a plan. I have a concept for the painting. I have evaluated my reference and decided on a composition or design. I know where my big simple shapes will be. I pick out my pastels (color palette) before I begin. With a plan I am free to respond intuitively and quickly to my subject. Without a plan I would be experimenting and working out problems right on the painting and this often leads to overworking....and mud.
I often say that I work Slow then Fast then Slow. I take my time before I pick up a pastel to plan. Then paint fast. And finally slooooooow down at the end of a painting to make sure I have resolved it in the best way possible.

Below are the paintings done this weekend. All of them revolve around my recent trip out west except for one Iceland landscape that snuck in! They are available or will be soon in my Etsy shop. 


Diana Moses Botkin said...

These are all wonderful... and so impressive. Thanks for sharing your thoughts about working fast!

David Patterson said...

I really like "Coming Home" Karen!!

Tim Moore said...

really like Coming Home...love the black and white pines..off topic, since you mentioned Iceland, were you near where the volcano is going off?..that would have been a sight to see!
how much prep time do you prep for each painting?..picking photo,colors,paper prep, thumbnails ,etc..

Anonymous said...

I had the same question when I saw all your paintings from the long weekend. Now I understand your concept. Even though one may not be a keeper you are learning something along the way and that is a keeper! I will need to try this concept instead of trying to make each of my paintings perfect from the start! Thanks so much for the tips!

robertsloan2art said...

Oh thank you! I learn so much from every one of your posts and this is an important one. I love the gallery! Couldn't wait to see it and love seeing them together.

My guess: Iceland is the wildflowers at the bottom, it reminds me of some you did on your trip.

It's awesome you've daily painted for a decade! Congratulations!