|'Standing Tall' 9x12 pastel ©Karen Margulis|
purchase this painting on etsy $125
It's so green! How can I make it look interesting? It is a question I have to ask myself when painting the Southeastern landscape. Green is one of my favorite colors but when it is used exclusively in a landscape I find myself looking for some relief. A great way to provide this relief is through the underpainting.
One of my favorite techniques for very green landscapes is to start with a complementary color underpainting. Today's demo illustrates this technique. It is on gray canon Mi-Teintes paper 9x12.
My reference photo is only 2x3 so I really couldn't see the details. As a result my painting is an interpretation of this stand of trees. I am most interested in the big shapes of the trees, grass and sky and the drama of the light and shadows.
I choose four values of warm color pastels....I am using reds and pinks which are the complements to the greens that will come. I use a mix of hard and soft pastels and picked them because they were handy.
I lightly layer the pastel. I have simplified the scene into 5 simple shapes. I am not worried about the details such as leaves and branches at this stage.
Once I have covered the entire piece of paper I use a piece of pipe insulation foam to run in the pastel. I do this because I like the soft dreamy quality I get. I know that if a painting works in this stage my chances for a successful painting is better. This is the time to make adjustments if needed.
The next step is to choose the pastels I will use for the painting. I choose a selection of soft pastels for each element of the landscape. It is so much easier to have color harmony when I work with a limited palette.
Next I reinforce the dark areas of the painting. I like to use 2 or 3 light layers of color that are of similar value. In this painting I used dark purple, dark blue and finally dark blue-green.
I missed a photo so here are two steps. I add some warmer greens to the trees to start to give them shape. Then I work on the sky. I use 2 values of blue in the sky and transition into a warm light yellow to represent the low clouds. I also put down some blue greens in the distant trees. I want them to go back into the distance to I needed to have them lighter and cooler than my big trees.
Finally I add the bright warm yellow green to the grass. I love the drama of this shaft of light. My trees need more work but I have just about filled the tooth of the paper which is easy to do on Canson! I spray the trees and grass with some workable fixative to restore some tooth. It helps.
The next stage of the painting is when I have to concentrate and so I don't stop for photos. In this stage I make a mark and step back.....and repeat until I am satisfied. I change the shapes of the trees. I change the shape of the distant trees also. I add pastel to the grass and scrape some marks with a palette knife. I spray some more and add more to the trees. I add some hints of wildflowers.....pale yellow in the sun and pale blue in the shadows.
At the end of a painting, every mark needs a purpose. If I just keep adding pastel without thinking I will end up with muddy color. So I work slowly and deliberatley. After working awhile I am satisfied.