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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Trick for Painting a Flower Meadow in Pastel and Oil

'Meadows of Blue'                   11x14                 pastel                ©Karen Margulis
purchase $165
Meadows filled with wildflowers make my heart sing. It doesn't matter what kind of flower it is. I love the way flowers add interest and color to an otherwise bland and uninviting field of grass. Flowers are like the accessories to a well put together outfit. Flowers are like the pillows on a couch or decorations on a mantle. They add the finishing touch. They are the spice that pull the look together. They make the field sing!

But how do we effectively paint a meadow filled with flowers without it looking overdone or even too sweet?

The trick is restraint and remembering to add them at the end of a painting. 

Build the painting first with big simple shapes. The flowers are the accessories. Like the earring or the scarf ...they go on last.

black and white thumbnail

Tips for Adding Flowers to a Meadow
  • Save them for last. Build up the painting with big simple shapes. Restrain from putting in a single flower until the end!

  • Make sure the flowers will have a structure to hold on to otherwise they will appear to float in the grass. Consider laying in a dark 'dirt' shape in the underpainting. (see above)
  • Think Masses! Mass in shapes of flowers using the general color of the flower. Remember that atmospheric perspective will change the size, color and value of the masses as they go back.
  • After the masses are in place, pull a few single blooms out from the mass. Use colors and shapes that suggest the type of flower. These single blooms will allow the viewer to fill in the blanks and understand that the masses are just flowers. You don't have to paint every flower!
  • SLOW down and think carefully where you will place each bloom. You want the viewer's eye to move around the painting and the flowers can help give direction if they are well placed.
  • Every flower should have a purpose so no polka dot meadows! Make a mark and step back to evaluate. Less is more!

'Time for Bluebonnets'               5x7               oil              $95
My oil painting of some Texas Bluebonnets uses the same approach of big masses and then individual blooms. I had fun suggesting the texture of the flowers with a palette knife!


robertsloan2art said...

This is a big help to me! Up till now I've stippled flower masses, sometimes heavily but still stippled. You've got a deft hand with broken color in pastels and can get that in one swipe. I really need to study how that's done. I've also noticed you tend to keep most of the flowers the same hue except in near foreground. Not always but sometimes. Thanks!

Layne Roach said...


judy baker said...

You are the best pastel teacher for me, live or online. As a beginner, the offerings from too many teachers had put me into a " paralysis of infinite possibilities". I needed straightforward simple instructions to get me back on track.
Thank you for helping me become the artist I know I can be. Please send me anything you offer for courses beyond the 10 I bought.
Thank you again!
Do you do private critique for students?

Karen said...

Hi Judy, Thanks for writing! I appreciate your kind words about my work and blog. Currently I don't have private critiques available but may resume in 2016. Keep looking on the blog for information! I am also working on a new pdf lesson so stay tuned!