Saturday, January 23, 2016

Behind the Scenes: Warm Up Exercises for Painting Large


'A Special Kind of Quiet'           18x24          pastel        ©Karen Margulis
The fun continues. The plan was to paint two of the commission paintings every day until I am finished. They are taking longer than planned but only because I have discovered a great warm-up exercise...painting a pastel first.

I know it may seem crazy but there is a method to my madness. The panels I am using for the paintings are big. 4 x 5 feet is bigger than I have ever painted and they are acrylic. Both of these things are out of my comfort zone. It is a bit daunting but painting a pastel version first allows me to step up to the big white panels with confidence.

Return to your comfort zone to warm-up for working in new and uncharted territory.


close up detail
Today's scene is a marsh with a warm yellow sky. I have painted it before much smaller. I decided to do an 18x24 pastel version using the same underpainting colors as the acrylic. I even used acrylics for the pastel underpainting. After I finished the scene was fresh in my mind. I knew the colors I wanted and how to layer them.  I took some progress shots. Enjoy!


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I am using Golden Open acrylics. I got this great tray at the Goodwill. It is perfect for mixing paint!
I am only using this limited palette. Keeping it simple!

The underpainitng. I needed to cover up the white panels so I am using warm colors so help give the final warm glow I want.



Next I block in the darks. I am working the exact same way I did with the pastel. I am just using a big brush instead of a pastel stick.


Here are all of my reference paintings. I really don't look at them. The image is now in my head and the panels take on a life of their own.



The finished panels. The details are hard to see in the photo. The client wants the painting to look fresh and simple. They want them to have a care free plain air feel to them. They don't want them to be overly detailed. I will let them decide if I need to add anymore. On a commission I would rather stop sooner than finish it off and overdo it.
Whew! Now I move on to number four!

3 comments:

Tim Moore said...

Those are just too pretty.. love the colors.. Just the right amount of foreground..

OtterTail said...

Your warm up painting is beautiful - as are the finished panels. I imagine you client will be pleased and want to purchase both. Well done!

Carol Schiff said...


Love your pastel version!!! The purple trees is the background are stunning. Makes me consider pulling out my pastels again!

I love the finished panels, did several of them myself. What a great project!!