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Sunday, December 14, 2014

Steps to a Commission Part Three: The Underpaintings

'Peaceful Meadow I'            30x40             pastel           ©Karen Margulis

The big blank pieces of paper stared back at me from the easels. I put them side by side on my portable easels. The plan was to work on them at the same time. I decided that I would make them into a diptych. They would be contiguous although they could also stand on their own. So the colors and marks needed to be the exact same. In reality I was working on a painting that was 60 x 80!  Whew!

I love my Mount Visions!
I often do a wet underpainting for wildflower meadow paintings. The drips and serendipity of an alcohol wash or watercolor or oil stain add to the feeling of tangled grasses.  But since these big pieces of paper were not permanently mounted I didn't want to risk the paper buckling. I needed to cover the paper somehow to give myself a head start and preserve my expensive pastels.

 My thought was to do an underpainting of warm colors. I chose a variety of reds and pinks. Why? Because I knew that I would be using a lot of greens in the painting. The secret to interesting green is to introduce the compliment with a little violet somewhere in the painting. The underpainting is a perfect place to put these colors. Also I knew that this meadow had a lot of red clover which is pink and purple. Having the clover colors in the underpainting will also help give the illusion of a lot of clover among the grasses.

I chose to do the underpainting with my Mount Vision pastels. These pastels are workhorses! They are huge and just the right consistency. They are soft without being too soft and crumbly. They covered the big paper nicely without filling the tooth. They are an excellent value and did a wonderful job in my paintings!  Check them out here. 

beginning the underpainting

To do this dry underpainitng I applied the Mount Vision pastels using the side of half of a stick. I blocked in the painting by value. Dark areas got the dark purple and the lightest area got the pale pink.
I blended this underpainting using a piece of pipe insulation foam. Now my big pieces of paper had a base coat of pastel! It is a good time to stop and evaluate the composition. Does it have movement? Do the flowers dance? Are the shapes and sizes varied and interesting?  It is easier to fix things now before I get too much pastel on the paper.  Next step....adding the color!

Here they are on their easels with the underpaintings done

 In the next installment I will share the steps to completing these paintings. Stay tuned!


robertsloan2art said...

Wow! This is incredible. You got a great feeling to the flowers, love the bold strokes and vivid sense of depth.

I also love the palette, the way you used colors from red-violet around the wheel to blue but no yellows, oranges or red-orange hues. It has a great harmony to it and looks so natural.

jytte said...

This looks great. Thank you for your explanation. Much appreciated :o)

Alecia Schmitz said...

Wow those are huge! Are you using a sanded paper? I can't wait to see your
next post!

Susan Williamson said...

I love the fluid movement and your underpainting method is a great way to do it on the unmounted paper. I can actually see the flowers swaying in the breeze. Bravo!

Anna Lisa Leal said...

As always Karen - excellent information! Thank you for sharing your experiences! Looks gorgeous so far!