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Sunday, September 06, 2015

Painting a Sea Gull

'Meet Me on the Boardwalk'              5x5             pastel              ©Karen Margulis
purchase painting here $50
Enjoy this recycled post!

Sometimes the painting just paints itself. Sometimes it is a struggle. I painted some Arctic Terns the other day and everything flowed. Every mark was the right one. I had so much fun I thought I would paint a Laughing Gull for today's demo. It wasn't as easy as the terns! At one point I brushed out my gull and started over. Sometimes it's the best choice.

I am using a 5x7 piece of Pastelmat paper. I love the way the pastels go on this paper. It doesn't seem toothy but it really holds many layers.  I like it a lot.

I do the initial drawing with a piece of compressed charcoal.Because I didn't want my gull to be tiny I decide to let his tail go off the paper. I may decide to crop to a square so I draw a line to indicate the square.

My pastels are in a butcher tray. They are from my weekend paintings but looked like they would work for the gull. I add a few grayed purples. I have a mix of Terry Ludwig, Diane Townsend and Mount Vision pastels.

I start the painting with the plan to make a value map. I block in all of the dark areas first. I also start the background with a middle dark purple and a bright yellow.

Next I put in all of the lightest areas. I don't use my warmest, brightest light pastels. I want to reserve them for the ending marks. I pick pale values of purple,  blue and yellow.

Now I fill in the gull with some middle and middle light values. Everything has one layer of pastel. Next it is time to refine the gull and add details.

I decide to work on the background some more. I want to keep it loose and suggestive of  boardwalk.

I continue adding color to the gull. I add the lights. Something is going wrong. I have lost the shape of my bird. I could keep adding pastel layers to try to fix the shape and get the right lighting.....but the more I add the muddier I make it. It is going to be overworked if I don't stop.

Sometimes it isn't about adding more to fix problems.....sometimes it is about TAKING AWAY. So I take out a brush and brush off the gull. Goodbye gull.

I have a ghost image of the gull in place. I use my compressed charcoal to redraw my gull. This time I make him smaller. As I add pastel he will grow so I will start smaller this time.  With the drawing in place I repeat the above steps....darks, then lights, then middle values. I finished with the details of the eye and some spices of pure color.

I am finished. I am trying to decide if I want to leave it as a 5x7 which shows more boardwalk or as  a 5x5 crop? One shows the gull and his environment whereas the crop is more about the gull. What do you prefer?


Angela Taylor said...

I love this post. Thanks for sharing the process with us. Wonderfully done. I often do that as well and almost quit. It sits aside for a few days, months, sometimes years. I usually get back to it though. Thanks for sharing, it made me smile. :)

Angelfire said...

Thank you. I love all your posts. You asked at the end of the gull post which we prefer the 5x5 or the 5x7? I prefer the 5x5 because it puts the gulls head and eye into a third of he painting. Great job!

Teri said...

Hi Karen! Great job remembering to take photos :o)
I think the 5x5 would be better to allow the gull to stand out. Even tho I love the marks you made above him.

Anonymous said...

I like the crop better--less distraction.