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Tuesday, September 01, 2015

A Tip for Adding a Pathway to a Landscape Painting

'Beyond the Dunes'           8x10             pastel                ©Karen Margulis
I discovered a pathway to the sea. It was hidden by the bushes and brambles of the shore but I pushed aside some foliage and the path beckoned. The distant sea glimmered with light breaking through the parting clouds. The storm had passed and I needed to discover the treasures along the shore.

That is the story behind today's painting. My reference photo for the painting was taken many years ago on a Spring visit to the Outer Banks. But the memories are vivid. Painting from these memories never get old. Each time I resist a favorite scene I return with more knowledge and improved skills.

This time I painted the path to the sea but I decided it needed a figure....to complete the story but also to complete the composition. The path needed a reward at the end.

closeup of the figure in the distance

'The eye should not be led to where there is nothing to see'    Robert Henri

This is one of my favorite quotes. It guides all of my landscape paintings. How often do we paint pathways or roads or waterways with no regard to where they take the viewer? There needs to be a reason for going down the path....something interesting to discover....It doesn't have to be a thing. It can be a spot of color, an interesting mark, texture, a bit of contrast. Eye candy. Something to savor and enjoy or maybe just something unexpected.

I decided my painting needed a small figure at the end of the path. The figure is a small surprise but also finishes my story. All it took was three small marks of pastel to suggest the figure but is is enough. 

the underpainting.....just 4 values of yellow
P.S.  Remember that pathways are not always a physical path or road or waterway. We create visual pathways with the arrangement of shapes and lines and edges in a painting. The eye will naturally follow these suggested pathways so make sure they lead somewhere! (and not right off the paper)


Heidi Hjort said...

Hi Karen! Your painting is wonderful already in the underpainting stage, I tend to fall in love with the early stages :) Great quote from Robert Henri, there's so much to learn from him. Thanks for sharing. Love, Heidi

robertsloan2art said...

Beautiful essay! Great story in the painting, and those three evocative marks are very effective. That kind of painting is like writing haiku instead of novels.

Cindy Gillett said...

I agree with you Karen...love Robert Henri's quote!

gideon sockpuppet said...

Thanks, this is good advice. I have always been conscious of not leading the eye off the canvas, but less aware of creating a visual reward at the end of the path.