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Saturday, February 28, 2015

How to Add a Figure to a Pastel Landscape Painting part 2

'Making Tracks'                6x6                  pastel             ©Karen Margulis
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I want to tell a story with my paintings. Adding a figure to my landscapes sometimes helps complete the story. But I don't like the figure to overwhelm and take away from the landscape. It's a fine line because we are naturally drawn to figures. They do become important. 

I try to find the right balance by merely suggesting the figure. They are usually small and they are simply shapes that suggest a figure. In yesterday's post I demonstrated how I add a larger figure. You can read it here. Today I am sharing how I add smaller figures to a landscape. 

I begin with a rough sketch. I am using my recycled mat board. I like the purples and oranges of the original painting and the texture of the underpainting! I make a fat mark where I will place my figure (a cross country skier)

I develop the entire painting before I do anything to the figure. I know where he is going but I finished the surrounding landscape up to the mark where he will be. I know I will be able to paint him on top of the background because he is so small (about one inch)

When I am ready to add the figure I make some marks with my darkest value. I typically use a dark blue or purple. I try to get the gesture of the figure with these dark marks. I add a lighter value to his back to begin creating the form.

Next I add another shade of blue for the pants and a small dot of red for the hat. I also decide to add a tiny dot of brown/tan for his face.

I continue with a tiny for of red for his mitten, a brown line for the skis and a thin blue line for the ski pole. I use the snow color to refine the shape of the figure.
All of these tiny marks are made with the edges of soft pastels. I used Terry Ludwig pastels for this figure.

I add a little shaved snow to complete the painting and I am finished! 


Lisa Graham Art said...

This scene is so lovely and I can hear the swoosh of his skis. Loved reading and seeing your process here.

Molly White said...

Karen, I just want to thank you so much for all of your great tips and your willingness to share them with all of us.

robertsloan2art said...

Wow. You got a lot of detail in for a figure only an inch tall. Great proportions and great gesture, that's something else about putting in small figures. Accurate gesture counts for a lot. You've implied at least as much as you stated.

I think this approach would work for animals too, if I wanted a stag in the distance or a couple of bison or a bear. Give enough information to tell what it is and not much more. Though colorful clothing really works with a human, you could also do that with a dog since so many people put jackets on their dogs. Or in a city scene, even cats!