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Monday, January 26, 2015

Paint Along Monday: Painting a Sea Gull

'Meet Me on the Boardwalk'              5x5             pastel              ©Karen Margulis
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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?


Paula Campbell said...

Karen, I would leave it as a 5x7. So much easier to frame with a ready-made. Love it!

Mariela said...

Lovely.... I prefer the square one!!

Nic McLean said...

Dusky Thank you for your tip on the wet/dry cloth-that's a great idea and I'll do that when i go to the workshop. I really love this seagull and is crop it to 5x5 maybe because that is my favorite size of canvas to work on and because it is alk about the seagull.

Adriana Guidi said...

5" x 5" I think..more emphasis on your lovely sea gull...

Ural Jones said...

Square format is my choice too!