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Friday, October 23, 2015

Aspen Series part 2...Thinking Outside of the Box

'Golden Memories'                 10x20                   pastel                   ©Karen Margulis
I am guilty. I always seem to paint inside the box. The standard box. I always choose standard size papers for my paintings....5x7, 8x10, 11x14. It is easy and less expensive to frame a standard size painting. But it is limiting. Sometimes the subject is better served by a non standard size support. Sometimes we need to go outside of the box!

Today's addition to my aspen series is the perfect example. My concept for this painting was to express the immense spread of gorgeous aspen trees in their autumn splendor.  I decided that a long and narrow format would be the best way to showcase this stand of trees. I cut a piece of white pastel Premier paper to 10x20 and got to work.

Cretacolor Aqua Briques....Love these for watercolor underpaintings. Thanks Nancy!

 In addition to choosing the right format for the painting I needed to choose the best underpainting technique. I thought that watercolor might lead to the drips and expressiveness that I wanted. I used my new set of Cretacolor Aqua Briques. I like them for their vibrancy but also for their size. I can do large underpaintings without using up a small pan of watercolor.

I added some kosher salt for texture

The finished underpainting. click to enlarge for details.

A close up of the underpainting. I see interesting possibilities here. Lots of fun!

After the underpainting was dry I began to add pastel. To keep things simple I used the same pastel palette as yesterday's painting. I began by reinforcing the dark areas with dark blues and greens. I also used a gray violet to put in the tree trunks.

Next I worked on the sky. I added a few different blue pastels. I used negative painting to pull out the shapes of the foliage. I wanted to allow some of the watercolor to show through so I didn't paint all of the foliage.

To finish the painting I added detail to some of the trunks and added a few leaf shapes. This unusual size doesn't translate well in a photo for some reason. I am happy that it suits the vision I had for this painting. It was fun to paint outside the 8x10 box today!


jcwnorfolk said...


robertsloan2art said...

I can understand the standard sizes habit. I've done that all along and especially when I was selling art. I would also do odd sizes and adjust to a standard size mat though, which led to fun layouts as I was sometimes using thrift store frames in random sizes.

One thing that rocked for that was getting an oval mat cutter. I'd cut the mat first and then lightly trace its outline on the paper to get the planned painting shape scaled to fit it. The one from Logan is adjustable proportions so you can decide what shape from round to narrow elongated oval. Curved shapes encourage vignetting and also fit around some subjects well. It was also a crop I could do to any painting I didn't like the corners.

LizBiz said...

I am a huge fan of your work! Have you ever shared the brand and colors of the pastels you use?

Karen said...

Thanks Liz! I use mostly Terry Ludwig pastels. I have several sets actually hundreds of pastels so I don't really know what color numbers I use!