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Monday, February 01, 2016

When Inspiration Strikes: How to Decide What to Paint

'Return to Iceland'           14x18        pastel            ©Karen Margulis
available $165
I think this a problem worthy of a series. It is something we all face....how to decide what to paint. Sometimes we have so many ideas we don't know where to begin or what to do first. Other times we have nothing. Either way it can be paralyzing. And so we end up not painting at all. I thought it might be fun and maybe even helpful if I verbalize my decision making process in a new series I will call 'When Inspiration Strikes". Here is the first installment:

Today was one of those 'Too Many Ideas' days for me. Finished with my commissions it was going to be a paint whatever I want day which is always a great thing. But I had too many things I wanted to try. Should I do the wildflowers up on the easel with the great underpainting all ready to go? Or maybe the 30x40 that I have in my head? Or maybe the stack of minis on the table? I puttered around the studio doing odds and ends but basically wasting time until I checked Facebook. Inspiration Strikes!

A small plein air study from  my Summer 2014 trip to Iceland
As I scrolled through my feed I saw a post from my friend Elinros from Iceland. She had posted her wonderful rose painting in response to the 5 day painting challenge that is going around Facebook. If you are not familiar with it you post a painting for 5 days and nominate another artist to post and nominate. It fills Facebook with art and is a lot of fun. Well Elinros nominated me and immediately I knew just what I wanted to paint.....Iceland of course!

I knew I had hit on the right subject because I couldn't get the paper out fast enough! I was inspired and it couldn't wait. I decided that I would pull out the plein air studies I had painted while on the 2014 Painter's Passport trip with Stan Sperlak. I would use the studies to paint a larger studio version.

Using up leftover acrylic paint to tone my Uart paper
 It has been 2 years since my trip so it would seem that the memories would have faded some. But all I had to do was put on my Iceland soundtrack and I was transported back to the day I painted the study. I felt it all....the wind, the chill in the air, my wet feet! But most of all I felt the excitement and wonder.

Playing with sky colors
 I didn't plan the painting or choose the pastels in advance. I simply looked at my study and responded. You can see that I tested colors for the sky right on the paper. It is not my usual way of working but it was fun to just let go. It was a great way to spend the afternoon.

Today it was a simple post on Facebook that got me focused on a totally different subject. I may ride this wave of inspiration until something else comes along that stops me in my tracks!
Thank you Elinros!
The sky is finished now for the grass
If you have not seen my travelog to Iceland you can see it here:  http://paintingiceland.blogspot.com

Don't forget to check out my 30 in 30 oils paintings that are available by auction! click here


robertsloan2art said...

Beautiful painting, great story. That's often how I break the confusion, just grab the first thing that appeals to me and run with it. Sometimes lots of ideas need to be shoved to the side for one in hand!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful painting Karen! I think you can see how much you loved Iceland through your paintings. Could I ask what paper you used for this painting? I love the texture you have in the sky.


Karen said...

Thanks Robert! I agree! There is a quote about this idea that escapes me at the moment. It will come to me!

Marcia, this is Uart 500 grit but I toned it with thinned acrylic paint which somehow added a different feel to the paper...I couldn't get it as smooth as I wanted so I left it!

Anonymous said...

Karen, thank you for sharing your amazing work and inspirational pastel tips online. I look forward to your blog and rewatch your YouTube videos all the time.

Gayle said...

All you blogs are so interesting and informative and your artwork is awesome. Thank you as well for the added bonus in linking us to your amazing Iceland Tour. I read the complete series: your narrative, photos and paintings gave me the sensation of actually being there - Thank you so much!