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

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Be Open to Inspiration for a Painting... pastel demo

'Prairie Winter'        9x12        pastel        ©Karen Margulis
available $150
Sometimes it is a simple thing. One look and the seeds to a painting are planted. When this happens to me I try to act on it. An inspired painting is so much more meaningful than one that is done without excitement. 

Inspiration arrived in the mail yesterday. My friend Annika in Finland sent me a little package with 5 pastels from Russia. "They are no Terry Ludvigs" she wrote. But I was intrigued. It was just the exoticness of pastels from Russia sent to me from Finland that got my wheels turning. I could tell they were quite hard but the colors immediately made me want to paint. They reminded me of the dried and colorful grasses of winter. I had just the subject to paint. The seeds were planted and there was no turning back.

I am completely in love with the public park near my son and daughter-in-law's apartment in Chicago. There is a naturalized prairie area that speaks to me in all seasons. I had the perfect winter picture of the prairie. The Russian pastels would be perfect for the prairies grasses. (They are Olki pastels)

I started with a quick drawing on a piece of blue canson paper. I chose blue because it was all that was left in the pad....the wrong reason but I knew it would work for a cold snowy landscape so I lucked out.

The next step was the underpainting. I used the Russian pastels and a few of my other pastels to block in the big shapes by value.

I chose to blend in this first layer to create some mystery and softness. Now I can decide where to put the most clarity and detail.

In this photo I have developed all of the areas from distant trees to the snow covered path through the prairie grasses. I left the grasses as solid shapes. They are made from big simple shapes with a few pieces of grass put in to give the illusion of a lot of grass. The viewer will fill in the rest. See a close-up photo below.

I used the Russian pastels to paint these grasses and they were perfect! The hard edge allowed me to paint lyrical grass. I was able to paint broken lines that look more believable than thick line. The colors were just right. Just as I had visualized.

I have a full plate and a big acrylic painting on the easel but these Russian pastels inspired a painting and I am glad I listened and took the time to get the painting on paper! Be open to inspiration! You never know what will trigger an idea and if you can listen and take time to get your ideas on paper it will be such a good feeling.


Sue Marrazzo said...

LOVE this!

robertsloan2art said...

"I chose blue because it was all that was left in the pad"...

I do this too! It's sometimes been its own form of inspiration. What can I do on that? I don't like this color, what would it work with? What does it remind me of?

New pastels of course, even a few of them, are always inspiring. Those colors are so right for prairie grasses, I can see how they started the whole thing. Sometimes taking out pastels I've had for a long time repeats this effect, just rearranging my supplies brings something to light that I haven't played with for a while.

Sea Dean said...

Wow! This looks like just the kind of project I love. How do you get these commissions? I love the way you approached the challenge and I can't wait to see the finished result. P.S. Funny that you are stepping into my acrylic world and this week I'm stepping into your pastel world for the 30 in 30. :)

Ruthie Mann said...

It's great to get inspiration when maybe we aren't expecting it. This happened to me today when my morning walk in the bright early sunlight came back to me while looking at a small failed beach scene I'd done. After 20 minutes and just a few pastels it's now a stubble field in the morning sun. Such fun!

ChrisD said...

I found someone selling boxes of Olki pastels on Ebay UK and purchased some; this was last year. They're good to use for smaller details and lines, and it's nice to have a slimmer pastel in one's hand rather than the chunky ones.

Anonymous said...

When you use the Canson paper, what side do you work on. The smooth or the texture?

Karen said...

Hi Joanie, I use the smooth side.