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Friday, April 24, 2015

What To Do with Plein Air Paintings?

'Bluebonnet Spring II'                 8x10              pastel               ©Karen Margulis
Not every plein air painting is a success. That is why I like to think of my paintings done on location as studies. It removes the pressure to create a framable painting. The experience of painting outside is reward enough. The experience of involving all of the senses will influence  paintings done in the studio.

I usually have a rule for my plein air paintings. I do not allow myself to touch them back in the studio. I leave them alone so I can learn from them. If I try to fix my 'mistakes' or try to make it better  I will often destroy the freshness and authenticity that they have. I prefer to paint a new variation based on the study. I make note of the things I would change in the study and then start fresh. It is a much better learning experience.

Every once in awhile I break my rule!

The original plain air painting....a demo from my Texas workshop
The painting above was a demo I did for my Texas workshop. It was the kind of painting that turned into an instructional tool. I used it to illustrate a few different concepts and answer questions. So in the end the painting was a confusing mix of things. It served a purpose but it wasn't authentic or true to the scene anymore.

Not one to throw out good paper I decided to use the bones of this painting to create a new interpretation.

  •  I found a photo taken near the demo location. It was a bit closer in and included some bluebonnets.
  • I brushed out some of the pastel and sprayed the bottom half with workable fixative. 
  • Now primed for new pastel I let the photo guide my new interpretation.
The new interpretation works because I already had big simple shapes and a solid value map. All it needed were a few adjustments to the trees and bushes and the addition of bluebonnets in the foreground.

a photo of a scene from the demo location

Brushed out, sprayed with fixative and ready to go!

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