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Sunday, November 02, 2014

Changing the Mood of a Landscape Painting

' Autumn Moods'            12x18              pastel               ©Karen Margulis
It was a blustery autumn day. The heat was on and it was warm and cozy in my studio. I was painting some fall trees as a demo for a private student. We did an oil stain underpainting and then resolved with pastel. It was a great morning and my student enjoyed the demo and did a very nice painting herself. The original demo painting is below.

Demo painting version #1
 After my student left I returned to the demo. Something about the painting was bothering me. It didn't fit the mood of the day. The painting  had a blue sky and crisp bright fall foliage. It represented a sunny fall day. But I was in the mood for moody! So I decided to change the painting. It went through several changes before I settled on the final version. I thought you might enjoy a behind the scenes look at the evolution of this painting.

Version #2 

The first thing I did was brush off much of the pastel to restore some of the tooth of the paper. I then sprayed the whole painting with workable fixative. I wanted to simplify all of the trees.  I felt like they had gotten too fussy. I then made some of the trees a darker orange. I simplified the bank with some bigger strokes. No. This wasn't what I wanted. (version #2 above)

Version #3

Maybe the trees were too dark and red. I decided to make them a duller orange and added some dull greens in some areas. I added some purple to the shadow areas. Hmmmm. No that isn't it either. It was still too sunny and bright. How could I make it cooler and moodier?  How could it match the feeling of the weather outside my studio?

Final Version
I sprayed the painting again with workable fixative. I decided that to change the mood I didn't really need to focus on the tree color alone. I needed to change the SKY. The sky sets the mood and tone of the painting. I took some lavender and a dull pale blue-purple and changed the color of the sky and the water. Then I addressed the color of the grasses and foliage. Ahhh now that's what I wanted!

There may not have been a need to change the original painting but it wasn't what I felt. It was a copy of my student's reference photo. The final version represents how I wanted to imagine the scene. It just took me several changes to get there!


Lisa said...

I really appreciate not only your visual process in photos, but your thought process as well. Thanks for your generosity; love the final version!

robertsloan2art said...

Love the finale and the first one, the interim stages I can see why you kept working. Very cool to rework a demo painting and have it come out as intended!