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Tuesday, December 22, 2015

A Quick Tip for Painting Reflections

'Peace on Earth'           8x10        pastel        ©Karen Margulis
available $150
I couldn't resist. I had to paint one more before my studio is transformed into the family dining room for Christmas dinner.  I am working on studies for a hotel project. I will share all of the details soon but I am having fun creating these studies of some of my favorite subjects.

This scene was fun to paint and gives me the opportunity to share one of my favorite tips for painting reflections and making water look wet.  I don't overthink my reflections. I know there are certain 'rules' about reflections. Dark objects will be slightly lighter in the reflection and light objects will appear slightly darker. I don't really consider this as I paint. Sometimes too many rules bog me down.

But I have discovered a technique that tends to make the reflections believable and they end up being  'correct' without too much angst. Read on for the details:

My plan and underpainting

  •  When I put a color in a shape that is above the water I put the same stick of color down into the water. Example.....I put green in a tree then I use the same color in the reflection before I put the stick back.
  • IMPORTANT: I pull the pastel stick DOWN and make a vertical stroke in the water for the reflection. If I were to use the same quality of mark in both the tree and the reflection it would be difficult to know which was the tree and which was the reflection.
  • Pulling strokes down for reflections helps give the illusion of wetness in the water.
  • Next step is to BLEND the vertical strokes so they are soft and 'watery'. I use my finger or a white magic eraser to pull and soften the strokes. *This is the key to success.* The blended marks give the viewer a clue that they are looking at reflections in water and not an upside down tree!
  • I Paint all water in HORIZONTAL strokes. I pull some of the water strokes across the reflection....just in some areas. I don't want to obscure the entire reflection. 

Small color study for the hotel project

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