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Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Two Important Lessons I've Learned from my Teachers


'Island Memories'           12 x 24            pastel          ©Karen Margulis
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Sometimes it is a profound message that changes the way you work. Sometimes it is just a simple but practical tip. Over the years I have had the good fortune to have studied with many of the masters of pastel.....my rock stars! Each of these artists have had an influence on my work. I have taken bits and pieces of their teachings and advice and with a lot of painting on my part I have incorporated them into my own vision.

Today I took out another older painting that I had put aside. It needed a little something and now I knew just what to do to finish it.  As I made the changes I realized that I had grown since I had first painted this picture. I was making changes that were based on things I have learned from my teachers. I'd like to share those lessons with you today.

Before the changes....this painting is probably 6 years old

The first change I made was just a small adjustment but it reminded me of an important lesson taught by Richard McKinley.....the importance of working INCREMENTALLY. Instead of jumping into a painting and making drastic changes to a painting, it is better to to make small and thoughtful changes. I tend to paint very fast but I have learned to slow down when resolving a painting. I have learned to take my time and make thoughtful changes.....every mark needs to have a purpose when I am making final marks.

In looking at this painting I felt that it had no spice or eye candy in the dark ground plane. I had added a flash of peach water and some brighter green but it wasn't quite enough. So I took out a soft bright peach pastel and made a line to indicate water. I also added some heavier marks on the sky.

But the peach mark was too thick! I needed to fix it. That is where my second lesson came in. This one was more of a practical tip I learned about from Stan Sperlak.  He has a tip for making small corrections to a painting. You could say they are incremental corrections! Read on to see the trick.

Here is the too thick line of water

Using a pin to make small corrections
 In one of his workshops Stan showed us how a stainless steel push pin can be a wonderful tool. Often when we want to make a correction to a pastel painting we choose to brush out the mistake. This works but it often removes too much pastel.

 If you want to make small changes it is very simple to remove pastel by scraping it off with the pin. I dragged the pin along the peach line removing the areas that were too thick. I was able to preserve the surrounding area which I liked. A brush would have removed more pastel than I needed. The pin allowed for more precision and more thoughtful corrections!

The corrected area with the addition of some green spice
Thank you to Richard and Stan for the many pearls of wisdom that they have shared. Sometimes you learn things and don't realize just how much they impact your work. I am grateful for all of my teachers and their generosity!

1 comment:

Tim Moore said...

cool..i like your blog, cause i learn things "incrementally"..little bit at a time...