2018 Workshop Schedule. New workshops added! click here for details.
Visit my Patreon Page for more painting instruction

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

The Importance of Making it Work

'Day's End"          5x7              pastel                 ©Karen Margulis
available $50
I find myself saying it all of the time. "Make it Work".... the catch phrase from Project Runway's Tim Gunn resonates with me. If you aren't familiar with the show, it is a competition for fashion designers. Tim Gunn, the host would often encourage them with the phrase "Make it Work" especially if they were running into problems.

It is interesting to learn that he used to tell his design students something else. He would say "This isn't working for you. Start something different" But he realized that this advice wasn't helpful. Instead he started to tell them to "Make it Work" with the idea that is was better to figure out what was going wrong and decide on how to fix it rather than start over.  After all we learn more from working through a project than throwing it out and starting over.

A pile of pastels left over from an earlier painting provide inspiration for today's painting 

I love to challenge myself to make it work. Often my paintings aren't working and I am tempted to throw in the towel. It is easy to give up on a painting. It is difficult to analyze a painting gone bad and figure out ways to make it work. But in the end I've gained much more insight by working through possible solutions. I may not even make the painting work but I have learned a thing or two along the way.

The next time you are faced with a painting that is giving you fits try making it work rather than giving up too soon. Make a list of the issues you see with the painting and possible solutions. Taking time to think rather than react may be all that is needed!


robertsloan2art said...

A great article and a good point. What needs to happen to make it work constantly varies. Sometimes I can't see it till right at the end. For me it tends to be more additive than subtractive. One more flower or branch or something balances what's there. Sketching in pen has something to do with that mental quirk, but pastels are much more flexible and occasionally I'll blend out something to do something else. Or blending an area is the final thing that makes the rest pop.

Today's autumn scene is lovely - you've gone yellow to red to orange to brown, all in a series! Love the high contrast between the dark trees and pale sky, the painting is all about those trees! Gorgeous!

judy baker said...

Thank you Karen. Being new to pastels, and daily painting I experience wanting to throw in the towel often...usually due to the disconnect between my creative idea and the reality of my end product. As an adult educator, I appreciate your user friendly practical guidance and clear demos. I bought your 10 lessons and each one is concise.
I know your generosity with all you have learned and continue to learn will come back to you tenfold. Do you do private consults by phone? If so, how much an hour? It works for my learning style. I could email pastel or oil pic I did and we can discuss. I also have 1,000 questions! Come do a workshop here on beautiful Cape Cod!
Regards and Thanks again.

Karen said...

Thank you Robert and Judy for your comments!
Judy, I currently don't offer consultations due to my heavy travel schedule. Perhaps in 2016. I would love to have the chance to work with you so stay tuned! Also I'd love to come teach on Cape Cod. That would be wonderful!

Chris Lally said...

Thank you for this post! I am struggling with something right now and have been getting ready to rip it to shreds. Appreciate your advice.

Sandi G said...

That's what is so great about pastels. Love your painting and the blue spice marks! What are you doing to clean your pastels these days?
Do you always choose your colors prior to painting and later add more if needed?

Karen said...

Thanks Chris and Sandi! Sani, my pastels are desperate for a good cleaning. I usually just wipe them with a towel as I use them but when I clean them all I take them out of the box and sift them in fine sand in small batches. It is time consuming but works. Better if I kept them cleaner as I go....but not as much fun!