|'Meet Me on the Boardwalk' 5x5 pastel ©Karen Margulis|
purchase painting here $50
Sometimes the painting just paints itself. Sometimes it is a struggle. I painted some Arctic Terns the other day and everything flowed. Every mark was the right one. I had so much fun I thought I would paint a Laughing Gull for today's demo. It wasn't as easy as the terns! At one point I brushed out my gull and started over. Sometimes it's the best choice.
I am using a 5x7 piece of Pastelmat paper. I love the way the pastels go on this paper. It doesn't seem toothy but it really holds many layers. I like it a lot.
I do the initial drawing with a piece of compressed charcoal.Because I didn't want my gull to be tiny I decide to let his tail go off the paper. I may decide to crop to a square so I draw a line to indicate the square.
My pastels are in a butcher tray. They are from my weekend paintings but looked like they would work for the gull. I add a few grayed purples. I have a mix of Terry Ludwig, Diane Townsend and Mount Vision pastels.
I start the painting with the plan to make a value map. I block in all of the dark areas first. I also start the background with a middle dark purple and a bright yellow.
Next I put in all of the lightest areas. I don't use my warmest, brightest light pastels. I want to reserve them for the ending marks. I pick pale values of purple, blue and yellow.
Now I fill in the gull with some middle and middle light values. Everything has one layer of pastel. Next it is time to refine the gull and add details.
I decide to work on the background some more. I want to keep it loose and suggestive of boardwalk.
I continue adding color to the gull. I add the lights. Something is going wrong. I have lost the shape of my bird. I could keep adding pastel layers to try to fix the shape and get the right lighting.....but the more I add the muddier I make it. It is going to be overworked if I don't stop.
Sometimes it isn't about adding more to fix problems.....sometimes it is about TAKING AWAY. So I take out a brush and brush off the gull. Goodbye gull.
I have a ghost image of the gull in place. I use my compressed charcoal to redraw my gull. This time I make him smaller. As I add pastel he will grow so I will start smaller this time. With the drawing in place I repeat the above steps....darks, then lights, then middle values. I finished with the details of the eye and some spices of pure color.
I am finished. I am trying to decide if I want to leave it as a 5x7 which shows more boardwalk or as a 5x5 crop? One shows the gull and his environment whereas the crop is more about the gull. What do you prefer?