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Sunday, November 09, 2014

Loosening Up Your Paintings Tip #1


'Ribbon of Blue'            16x20            pastel             ©Karen Margulis
painting available $250
I've been thinking a lot about it lately. Painting loose. What does it mean and how do we do it?  I just finished a presentation demo and workshop for the Appalachian Pastel Society and this was the topic. I've read a lot of advice on the subject and most if it seems to be easier said than done. Advice such as Relax. Let Go. Be Free. Be Bold and fearless. Have Confidence.  Sounds good but I need something more concrete to follow.

I came up with some suggestions and tips that I shared in my workshop. I'd like to share a few with you in my blog. The tips I will present are in no particular order.  Here is the first tip.


Color Studies save time and lead to better color harmony and more expressive paintings.


my reference photo and small color study

  • Nothing slows you down faster and interrupts the flow of a painting more than searching for the right colors and values. Choosing colors in advance saves time and aggravation.
  • Having a limited selection of pastels leads to better color harmony because you are not tempted to use too many colors in one painting (color chaos)
  • Trying out the selected palette in a small color study allows you to see andmake adjustments on a smaller scale.
  • I like to do color studies on scraps of pastel paper. My preferred size is 2.5x3.5.
  • Make sure the color study is done on the same type and color paper you will use for your painting.
Painting notes:  This is the demo from my workshop. It is 16x20 on Uart with a value alcohol wash underpainitng.

4 comments:

Nancy said...

I especially enjoyed today's post because you do give good tangible tips regardless of the painting medium, my preference being acrylics. Thanks for your blog, it's very helpful with my painting!

Jenny Walker said...

thanks for taking the time to be so generous with your knowledge...it is very much appreciated....J"W

robertsloan2art said...

This is so true and so perfect. When you paint down at ATC size you have to simplify just to get the subject in - and yet you can get all the main forms and features down. You get more familiar with it and work out any changes you want to make in a very short time.

You can try it more than once with different color harmonies too working that little.

Scaling it up big, you know what you're doing and can limit detail just to the key details that heighten interest in the focal area.

I started out in colored pencils and loosening up was a slow, painful process for me. I'm finally starting to get it, but that's what shows composition problems, color disharmony and other setbacks without the distracion of "ooh it's like a photo" detail. It either works or not when you paint loose.

But what are you risking? A piece of paper, that's all. In this case, a piece of paper the size of a freaking business card that still comes out as a great little artwork in its own right. It doesn't take long to do. It can be sold for a few dollars or freely given in trade to an artist you admire or as a small gift to a friend, a freebie to a favorite collector.

There's everything for this method and nothing against it. Thanks for a great article.

Karen said...

Thanks Nancy and Jenny!! I appreciate your comments!
Thanks Rob for adding your thoughts. I always appreciate what you add to my posts and this time you read my mind! Some of your tips are already a part of my next post!!
Thank you for sharing!!