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Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Adding Life to Your Paintings

'Honey Please'                9x12                pastel              ©Karen Margulis
painting available $155
It was just OK. I have painted this meadow of Queen Anne's Lace many times. This time the painting felt like it was lacking something. But what?  Should I add something or maybe take something away? I wasn't sure. I decided I needed to revisit the meadow....in my mind.

I closed my eyes. I took several deep breaths, my body relaxing and sinking down into my chair. I let my mind wander and was transported back to that warm summer day on Cape Cod.

We were waiting for the ferry to Nantucket Island. I had immersed myself in genealogy and discovered my roots in New England. I knew that my grandfather was born and raised on Nantucket but I had recently discovered my roots went back to the founding fathers of Nantucket as well as pilgrim Thomas Rogers. I also discovered a long lost cousin still living on Nantucket. We were about to meet him for the first time.

It was a bright sunny summer day. There was a gentle breeze and the air was filled with the scent of the sea and roses. I decided to wander around the docks with my camera in hand.  Of course my eye was immediately drawn to a wonderful patch of Queen Anne's Lace. They were tall and thick and gorgeous. Perfect for photos except for their location. They were growing quite happily next to a large gray dumpster!  No matter. I stooped down and shot my photos looking up at the blue sky. No more dumpster.

As my mind wandered and recalled the day I took the dumpster photos I remembered another little detail. The bees. The flowers were alive with the buzzing of bees. Lots of bees. I could hear them in my mind. I could feel the sun. I remembered the excitement of the upcoming adventure and the serendipitous discovery of the flowers.

My painting needed the bees. It needed a reminder of how alive everything felt....the sun, the flowers, the breeze and that wonderful summer buzzing of bumblebees.

TIP: Adding the bees was just a matter of a few quick marks. I used a Terry Ludwig eggplant dark pastel for the black parts of the bee and a couple of warm yellow Schmincke pastels for the yellow parts. I put down a few dark marks and added some yellow 'stripes. A touch of bright blue on the dark and a brush of pale gray violet for the wings and I was finished. I did not draw my bee. I wanted them to be painterly so I just painted small shapes.


Sunny Avocado said...

This is one of my most favorite of all that I have seen of your paintings! Wishing I could be a buyer. :(

Barbara Pask said...

Oh it's wonderful and I love that you added the bees.

robertsloan2art said...

This is so fantastic. Wonderful article and discovery. I do landscapes and flowers and trees but I should remember birds, insects and animals are around them too. Any painting's a lot livelier with animals as well as plants!