|'Bathtime' 8x10 pastel ©Karen Margulis|
We are painting animals in my pastel classes this week. Painting animals can be a stretch for artists like myself, who mainly paint landscapes but there are many valuable lessons to be learned. Often concepts become clear when presented in another way. Changing up the subject matter can often spark an 'Aha Moment'.
I use a different approach for my animal paintings that rely in creating a value map. My goal is to lightly layer color by value without worrying about getting the exact local color. In other words white fur is not white and brown fur is not brown. These lessons can be transferred to the landscape. Clouds are not white and tree trunks are not brown!
Another valuable lesson which can also apply to the landscape is how to paint whiskers. Whiskers are the last thing I add to an animal painting. The whiskers can make or break the painting. (the same is true for grasses in the landscape) If they are painted too heavy, dark and regular they will look cartoonish. Here are a few tips to effective and painterly whiskers:
|a selection of Nupastels used for whiskers|
PASTELS: I like to use well worn Nupastels for my whiskers. I like them best when they develop a thin point from use. These hard pastels will cut through the soft pastel layers and make the best whiskers. I don't use pastel pencils. I tend to want to draw with them and my whiskers come out too thick and heavy.
|Heavy flat whiskers vs colorful painterly whiskers|
TECHNIQUE: The goal for whiskers is to make Lyrical Lines.....line that are broken and not regular in length and width. This is best done with a light hand that is allowed to dance across the paper.
See the illustration above. The top whiskers are too white, too heavy and too regular....cartoon whiskers. The bottom 4 whiskers have subtle color and a light touch. Practice!
TIP: BE CONFIDENT!! It can be scary to paint whiskers. Since they have to come at the end of a painting it is easy to fear that the whiskers will ruin the painting. I find that the more nervous I am, the worse the whiskers will be. I will press down to hard and make them too thick because I am concentrating so hard. When I relax and just DO IT.....the whiskers come out free and painterly.
If you are a landscape painter try these tips for painting grasses! and if you would like to try my lesson on painting animals check out my PDF demo on Etsy.