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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Two Essential Tips for Making Changes to a Painting

'Hurry Home'              8x10           pastel           ©Karen Margulis
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I liked it but something about it bothered me. I kept the painting in a simple frame in my studio. I would look at it from time to time and I just couldn't figure out why I didn't love it. It was a snowy Chicago cityscape that I had painted last winter. There were parts of it that I really liked....the suggested buildings, the snow and feeling of cold. But the figures bothered me. I decided to do something about it today. Have a look at the original painting below:

The original painting...before any changes
The original painting had two figures under one umbrella. They were not quite in the center but they were almost too close to being in the center. How could I fix that? I decided to take away the figure on the right and move the umbrella over to the left slightly. That fix might be enough to pull the weight of the figure off center.

But how could I remove a dark pastel figure and cover it with light snow? That could be tricky. It called for my Essential Tip #1 Compressed air.

Removing the bits that I don't like with canned air
A can of compressed air came to the rescue. Sold in office supply stores, a quick blast of air will remove pastel down to the original paper! It is amazing. The straw allows for surgical precision.
Tip: Take the painting outside when using the canned air since the pastel dust will be blasted into the air.

The redo....still not quite happy with the painting

The canned air did the trick and removed the offending figure. It allowed me to cover the area with the snow colors. I was also able to move the umbrella over. There is no longer any evidence of the second figure. I added a dog to pull the figure even further from the center. (and I love city dogs!)

There was still something about the painting that was bothering me. It must be the umbrella. The red color drew my eye to quickly to the figure and I wasn't able to enjoy the other parts of the painting. I needed to change the color of the umbrella but what color should it be?

 Essential Tip #2: Try new colors by putting them on scrap paper and holding them over the area to be changed. These little color swatches are quick and easy to do and give you a preview of the new color without filling the tooth of your surface and/or making mud by making too many changes directly on the painting. (yes you could use photoshop but this old school tip uses the pastel colors you actually own)

I decided to use yellow for the umbrella. I am satisfied now with the changes and the painting. The yellow works well with the purples in the painting and doesn't draw the eye as quickly as the pink umbrella did.

These two essential tips allowed me to make significant changes to a painting without ruining it with experimental changes. Canned air and color swatches.....keep them in your bag of tricks!

close up detail


Lori Welch said...

The color swatch tip is genius!

Anna Lisa Leal said...

Great lesson Karen!

robertsloan2art said...

Makes sense! Two great techniques for changes. I love using scrap paper for color tests, a reason to save all those narrow slips when I cut paper to a standard size from a larger piece. Very handy!

Betsi Newbury said...

I am not a pastelist, but I read your blog for the basic art theory information. I love this idea and your changes did make your piece stronger. I have a couple of questions, though. When you replaced the removed figure with snow colors, were they the same colors used during the original creation? If so, how did you know? Do you keep a list of the colors and brands used on each pastel for future references? Thanks!

Denise D. said...

Great ideas! Your videos are so concise and to the point! No wasted time. Perfect!

yvonne prioleau said...

Very interesting. Loved the edited painting but also liked the two figures with the red umbrella.

Janet Claffey said...

Great tips. And your golden umbrella works back to the illuminated street lights. Thanks for sharing your skills and lessons.

tres said...

Very informative and luv the changes in this. Yellow umbrella looks great.