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Thursday, October 22, 2015

Tips for Painting a Series: Aspens

'Aspen View'                 6x8               pastel                   ©Karen Margulis
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It was an unexpected surprise. A welcome surprise. A bucket list surprise even. I had always wanted to see Aspen trees in their Autumn glory. I love Aspens. They are probably my most favorite tree. I had experienced them in all seasons except for the fall so when I had the opportunity to see them last week I jumped at it!

My friends Becky and Cheryl were spending some time in Santa fe after my workshop. I had planned to relax at my hotel but they invited me for a drive to see the aspens along the drive to the Santa Fe ski basin.  What a day we had! It was glorious!

Many had the same idea as we did including several plein air painters! Hi Mary!

The weather was perfect. It was a crisp October day with an unbelievably blue sky. We could see the big patches of aspens on the tops of the mountains and we were determined to get a closer look. We found them along with many other leaf peepers. It was an awesome sight. I took many photos. We had no time to paint since I had an afternoon flight home. But I returned home just bursting with anticipation to paint the aspens.

I decided that they would be the perfect subject for a series. Painting a series is an opportunity to really get to know the subject. The first couple of paintings lay the groundwork. It is a chance to work out colors and learn about the subject. After the first few paintings interpretation and expressiveness really begin. Painting a series is one of the best ways to improve as a painter because you are expanding on your knowledge and not starting from scratch for each painting.

Here are a few tips for a successful series:

  • Prepare! Set aside the papers you will use. I often like to experiment with papers in a series. I try different colors and surface treatments. This allows me to have a cohesive series with subtle differences created by the papers.

  • Take time to gather reference material. I only work from my own photos so I choose at least 12 and print them on regular printer paper. I like to work from small photos. I select a variety of photos from close-ups to distant. My goal is for the series to tell a story about my subject.

  • Select a Palette of colors. I take time to choose a good selection of pastels that will work for my subject. I may use the same pastels for several paintings. I will occasionally change them and introduce new colors to give variety to my series.

 For my first painting in the series I relied on my favorite paper, Uart and did my usual 4 value underpainting in purples. The painting is 6x8. This is a 'getting familiar' painting. I can't wait to do more!


Layne Roach said...

Love, love this painting! Love Aspens! I immediatly felt myself back in Colorado when I saw your gorgeous painting Karen!

robertsloan2art said...

This is a cool process for a series! I love the aspens painting and I'm looking forward to more!