Thursday, February 19, 2015

Another Pastel Demo....Another Question Answered

'Seeking Peace'              16x20              pastel                ©Karen Margulis
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It was unanimous. Everyone in the evening class chose the same reference photo. I gave my classes a choice for the last demo of the session. There was a choice of five photos of a big variety of landscapes. The marsh was the unanimous choice. Why did they choose it?

They chose it because it looked like it would be the most challenging. We all agreed that the scene was beautiful. The colors and mood were very nice. But it was boring. The class wanted to know how I would handle it. How would I make it more interesting?

My reference photo is a scene from Central Florida
So we analyzed the photo together. We agreed that we liked the colors. We also liked the slight moodiness created by the morning mist that was burning off the marsh. But would that be enough to make an interesting painting? Is color or mood enough? Should there be a center of interest or something that grabs the viewer's attention?

Mood can be enough but it is still important that we arrange the elements of the painting so that the viewer's eye can easily move through it. If everything is the same will we know where to go?

The other issue with the photo was that the values were all very much the same middle value...no contrast at all. The shapes were also very similar....all long narrow bands of color. No variety.  We discussed what we could do to improve this reference.


Here is what I chose to do with the painting:

  • I decided to change the shapes and sizes of the trees and marsh grasses to create more variety. 
  • I also layered the trees and bushed making the back trees cooler. I cooled sown the very warm grasses in the distance to suggest more depth.
  • I liked the hint of water going behind the first bank of grass so I decided to exaggerate and make this a more important part of the painting.
  • I decided that this marsh needed some life. So I added a couple of white egrets....just a hint. They also provide some balance to the weight of the trees and grasses on the left.
painting notes: 16x20 on Uart 500 with a dry wash underpainting in warm colors.

6 comments:

Martine tulet said...

I am always amazed how you can come up with a so beautiful painting starting with the so called "reference" photos. I have to confess that i read you blog everyday and i have named you my "painting Guru". Thanks for sharing you beautiful way of painting.

Tim Moore said...

very nice..do you do any blending at the end? i like the "dreamy"?, misty quality of your paintings..i know you blend a bit on your block in..

Karen said...

Thanks Tim, I don't usually blend after the first layer. Any soft effect is done by the layering and letting the pastels blend themselves!

Mitch said...

I really appreciate your sharing with us your process in your classes; it is almost like being there and it really helps to see how you work through issues in translating a reference. And these paintings on a larger scale are quite beautiful.

Catherine Selinger said...

At this point in my pastel career (Ha ha!), these past two days of "Answering Questions" have been absolutely, hands down, the most helpful to me. I can't wait for OUR turn, as your virtual students, to ask the questions! You can count on one or two from me.

BUT Thank you yet again Karen for helping all of us along. We love you!

robertsloan2art said...

This is great! I love the egrets. Putting them in was brilliant. I also love what you did to change the composition. This lesson is one of your best. Love the painting too.