|'My Shangri-La' 16x20 pastel ©Karen Margulis|
It was open line day in pastel class. I am always happy to answer questions from my students but today was different. I let the class vote on the subject for the demo and then they guided me through the painting by their questions. Often demos can be very one sided. The artist will paint and talk about what they are doing or just paint. Questions may crop up or they are held until the artist has finished. Today was different.
Today was a wonderful give and take. Many questions were asked and each question allowed me to make a point. The demo progressed and the questions were answered. It was a lot of fun. I'd like to share some of those questions and answers with you.
|my reference photo|
A: When I paint a landscape I think about value and color. I also think about the layering I will do. I ask myself what colors will go underneath my final colors. I begin by choosing these 'underneath' colors. I choose block- in colors. I then choose the darkest values I will use. This is what I call my 'dirt'. Then I choose the colors I will use for each element of the painting.....the sky, the grass, etc. keeping in mind the layers I will use for each element.
Q: Do you worry about the values of each element?
A: Yes to some extent. I know that each element will have a range of values. The sky for example often has darker to lighter values. I make sure I have a range of values as well as colors.
Q: The Sky in your photo isn't as dark as the water. How do you deal with that?
A: The color of the sky is reflected in the water. Sometimes you wish to show more water than sky. In this case I remind myself that a typical blue sky will get darker and cooler as it gets higher. As a result the water will reflect the dark blue in the foreground (even though we don't see it in the photo) And as a reminder we often make blue skies too dark because the photos show them as a dark clear blue. This leads to paintings that look more like twilight than daytime.
Q:Which comes first the reflections or the water?
A: I like to block in the reflections with downward vertical strokes first. I then blend them downward with my finger. Next I put in the water with horizontal strokes. If there are things floating on the water they are put in last.
Q: How do you simplify a busy photo? There are so many leaves and changes in light and dark in the photo it is hard to know how to simplify it.
A: It begins at the beginning! I block in the painting with big SIMPLE shapes. I look at the grouping of trees and notice that they are mostly a darkish mass. (although not as dark as the photos suggests) I block in the tree shapes with one dark value. Then I adjust and add the lighter leaves.
As you can see I have taken liberties with the photo. I removed the overhanging branches and changed the shapes of the tree masses. Also the photo was too dark especially in the shadows so I made sure to paint these areas lighter and with more color.
These are a few of the many questions we covered. Stay tuned for your turn to ask questions!
painting notes: 16x20 on Uart 500. I began with a dry wash of warm colors in 4 values.