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Monday, January 19, 2015

Paint Along Monday: Painting a Poppy Meadow

'Prairie Music'             8x10            pastel             ©Karen Margulis
It's Paint Along Monday and I am in the mood for wildflowers. I went through my photos and found one that spoke to me. I have painted red poppies but not many pink ones. I also like the moody sky in the photo. Soft, Pink and Moody Sky....that will be the concept for the painting.

I cut a piece of UArt 500 sanded paper and taped it to my board. I spent a few minutes choosing the pastels I will use for the painting. As you can see it is a limited palette...some darks, some dirt, some flower colors, some sky colors and some grass colors. That's it.

Next I open Spotify and choose my painting music. Music influences my mood and how I respond to the painting. I wanted moody and soft so I chose my new favorite soundtrack from  'The Theory of Everything' by Johan Johansson. Time to paint. 

I decide to do an alcohol wash for the painting. I picked an assortment of pink pastels in 3 values. I apply them lightly using the side of the stick. I wash the pastel in with a brush and some rubbing alcohol. Why did I choose this technique? I was painting a tangle of wildflowers and grasses. I wanted the painting to be loose and free. I knew the drips of an alcohol wash would give me a start to some suggested grasses. I picked pinks because I will have pink flowers and also I knew the warm red pink color would make my green grasses more exciting (complements)

After the underpainting is dry I begin the painting by reinforcing the dark areas. I want to create a subtle path for the eye under the grasses with my darks. I also add some more peachy pink over the underpainting. This will be the dirt.

 After I block in the darks I move to the lights. The sky is the lightest part of this scene. I put down some grayed purples for the moody sky and add some yellows. I blend these layers using a pale blue gray pastel. I don't blend with my fingers!  I add some lighter yellow at the horizon. The sky is finished.

Oops. I got into my zone here and forgot to take a photo! What I did was block in the grasses first. I begin with the distant grasses and used a gray green. I varied my greens to create and interesting mass of grasses. See the nice dark shape underneath the grasses? Next I blocked in the flowers with the darkest pink/red that I saw. Dark to light.

I finish the poppies by layering a few different values of pinks using the side of the pastel. I end with the pale pink on the edges of the flowers. This is an overcast day so I want the flowers to be softly lit with cool light. (I so sunlit flowers differently)

I continue adding touches of suggested detail. I put in some yellow flowers. I add some broken 'lyrical' lines for the stems and taller grasses.  I am almost finished. I want to keep the painting fresh so I will stop and step back to see what what else the painting needs. It is so easy to overwork and put in too many blades of grass at this point. Stop to smell the flowers!

I decide to add a few spices. These are marks that I apply with a heavier touch. They are meant to be points of interest in the painting. I put in some heavier marks of coral pink. I add some blue violet flowers. They are not in the photo. Why did I decide to add them? Comment below and let's get a discussion going!

I hope you enjoyed today's demo. Please share this post if you did!


Catherine Selinger said...

I love this demo Karen and your result! To answer your question:

I think you may have added the blue violet flowers to juxtapose some cool colour to contrast against the warmth of the pink and yellow flowers. This would make the warm flower colour to pop in contrast. An extra benefit is that the blue violet serves to 'connect' the pinks of the poppies with the greens of the grasses.

But also because YOU WANTED TO! :)

Mariela said...

Reading your blog is always a joy for me! thank you!

robertsloan2art said...

Blue violet flowers further unify the painting connecting the sky with the nearest flowers and the lower part of the painting. They're brighter, it's not obvious, but they are the same hue as the blue over violet darker sky areas even if the sky's lighter and more muted. That's elegant. They also give an impression of a field with more varieties of plants in it, very common when wildflowers are blooming.

There's my two cents. They liven up the bottom and fit the scene perfectly. Being cool hues, they don't compete with the yellow and pink flowers but they add to the whole.

Leora LaGraffe said...

I can't thank you enough for posting tutorials and helping those of us who wish to improve our artwork! I love all your art so much!

queenmarcia said...

The blue flowers complete the artistic rule of repetition of a color used once. Although the family of blue colors repeat at the top of the meadow, you created a much better balance and changed the photo image into a work of art by adding the vibrant blue where you did. Thank you so much for the tutuorials on Mondays. Seeing the steps really helps those of us who don't know about using soft pastels. You are so talented.. Marcia in Modesto,CA

Bonnie Patterson said...

Perhaps the blue flowers were to complement the yellow flowers?

Karen, I stumbled onto your blog a couple weeks ago. It has been such an informative experience for me to see day by day your habits and your works in progress. Thank you for your service to your fellow artists!!

Hope Thompson said...

Karen, thank you so much for all the detailed information! Especially, the under painting!

I have been studying the blue all morning. There is slight value variation with the green grasses, and I think that helps to pull the poppy forward. Also, I think it helps the eye to focus on the main focus of the painting, the large poppy that is forward. It helps the eye to know what to look at. Almost a frame within the painting.

Are you going to give us the answer at some point?

Thanks for this wonderful exercise, and I love the painting!