Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Simplifying a Green Landscape

'Simply Verdant'                 9x12             pastel            ©Karen Margulis
painting available here $125

Sometimes it is a matter of taking things away. Keep it simple. Less is More. It all sounds like it should be easy. But sometimes keeping it simple is really the hardest thing to do. It tends to sneak up on us. We get involved in a painting adding a little here and a little more there and so on until we end up with too much information. We move way beyond simple!

It happened to me today. I was painting a demo for a new student. She is an experienced pastel artist specializing in the figure and she wants to try landscapes. I chose a very green landscape so that I could illustrate the importance of creating the illusion of depth with atmospheric perspective. I used my demo painting to show the ways we can manipulate our color, value and mark making to create depth. The demo served it's purpose but my painting needed help!


The original demo painting 

When my student left I looked at the painting on the easel and realized that I went beyond simple! My foreground had too much going on. It wasn't a matter of what I needed to add....it was a case of taking things away!

  • I took out my stiff bristle brush and used it to brush out the busy foreground. I was left with a dark simple shape.
  • I used some workable fixative spray to further darken and fix the foreground colors.
  • I went back to my greens and simplified my marks. I allowed the marks to follow the contour of the land. The greens flowed nicely over the fixed darks.
  • I used green to make the stream more narrow where it rounded the bend.
I enjoyed simplifying a landscape that had become too busy for my liking. So often we decide we aren't pleased with our paintings so we keep on painting and adding more pastel. It is easy to end up with an overworked and dull painting this way. Next time try taking things away!

Painting details: 9x12 on Uart 500 grit with Terry Ludwig and Diane Townsend pastels.

1 comment:

M. J. Joachim said...

It's very true. Simple is often best. Busy and clutter seem to take away from the outcome we hope to have. Simple isn't always easy, but if and when it's done right, it should never be underestimated. Your paintings are beautiful, btw.