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Monday, December 15, 2014

Steps to a Commission Part Four: The Finished Paintings

'Peaceful Meadow II'           30x40           pastel            ©Karen Margulis

I think it must have been the music.  Once I turned on the soundtrack to The Hundred Foot Journey and started painting, everything started to flow. I can't imagine how it would be possible (or as much fun) to paint this large without music that makes you move! Listen to this soundtrack and see what I mean!

Once I began the paintings I was finished in four hours. I had one ice cream break and kept going. When I was finished I felt like I had run a marathon. I was wiped out but was exhilarated. It was such a high to see the paintings come together and to know that four hours before I was staring at big pieces of blank paper!

Here I am in front of the paintings to give you a better idea of the scale

I had decided to work on both of the paintings at the same time and treat them as if it was one huge painting. The request was for the same level of detail as the smaller paintings discovered on my website. These were older paintings which had a lot more grasses and detail than I tend to paint now.  So you will notice that the big paintings have more detail than the studies.

I also had to decide how to treat the flowers.  How would I scale up the paintings? Would the flowers be larger than life? Would they be life size? How could I keep my strokes look the same as my smaller paintings.....I wanted the same loose feel to the paintings.  I decided that they would be larger than life.
The largest flower head measures 13 inches wide!

 I credit all of the preparation work I did with the studies and pastel palette selection for making the paintings progress so quickly. After all I had painted them already. It was just a matter of scaling up. The studies were my warm up and the paintings were the marathon! And now I am hooked on Huge!

Starting with the dark shapes

Adding the sky and mountains

Putting in the grasses

Working on the flowers and final details


Drita Harris said...

They turned out beautiful!

M. J. Joachim said...

So much is involved in your creative process. The painting is positively lovely! Gotta love those ice cream breaks :)

Margretta S. Perry said...

Just lovely!

Jo Castillo said...

Super nice!

Sheila said...


Polly Birchall said...

Great flowers with a lovely soft texture

Kay Wyne said...

Beautiful! love the composition, colors and subject matter. Thanks for posting! Kay

Sunny Avocado said...


carol russell said...

UH-MAZE-ING!!! they are so pretty. thanks for letting us follow your process!

Anna Lisa Leal said...

The size and larger than life makes one for a view as if one was a butterfly or fairy! LOVELY!!!!!

Carol Flatt said...

Karen, I just had to tell you how fabulous these paintings are!! Thank you for documenting the process for us. You've definitely got me excited about trying larger work!! Bravo!!

Laura Kirste Campbell said...

Wow! Fabulous! Bravo!
I'm a new follower so forgive me if you've answered this inquiry previously...
When you work large: are your working on paper or other substrate? How do you seal your work? If it's on paper, is the plan to mat and frame? If you deliver your work unframed, how do you protect it on route?
Your work mesmerizes me! Really inspirational!! Since discovering your art I've started working with my pastels after again! Thank you!

jytte said...

Marvelous paintings :o)

robertsloan2art said...

They came out so wonderful! Thank you for showing all the progress stages to create them. It's a magnificent project and I can see now why you're hooked on huge. Gorgeous paintings.

I think your client got far more than they expected in these.

More detail in a larger painting makes sense too. You have the scale and space to let the viewer's eye wander throughout the painting and not see the whole unless they stand back to do so. More detail is less distracting when it's over a larger area. You have room for it.

They still have that wonderful liveliness and sparkle that all your works do. Congratulations on a great project!

Somehow I'm not surprised the final version took only 4 hours and lively music to complete. Pastel painting is like that. Once started it's like a wave, you have to keep going and every stroke makes sense. It's very immersive for me.

Maybe in the summer I'll dare to work a bit larger than usual, if I get the energy for it this year. The longer I live in San Francisco the stronger I get, if I could do a large work even once a year it'd be fun.

Anonymous said...


Really love your work and these pieces are beautiful. I was just wondering if you had commissioned them for Next? They have a very similar fine art print in their home range that I think you should be aware of if not..


Karen said...

Thank you!! Yes I do work with a print company and the print available on Next is not this same painting but it is mine. Thanks for letting me know!