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Wednesday, March 23, 2016

A Playful Approach to Underpainting

'Welcome Spring'        8x10        pastel         ©Karen Margulis
available $145
 I took the day off yesterday. I had good intentions but instead it was a day of doing nothing. So this morning I entered the studio with renewed energy.  I was anxious to paint something fun. Something just for me . Something with no intentions other than enjoying the process of painting. It was time to play!

Spring is evident here in North Georgia so painting a spring landscape was an obvious inspiration.  I selected a photo of some blooming trees and made my plan. I decided my focus would be the two big trees and the light and ethereal blooms.....but how could I best get this effect?

gouache and salt...an underpainting recipe
Deciding on an Underpainting Technique
As we discussed in my recent workshop there are so many ways we can start a pastel painting. There are  many techniques we can use for that first layer....the underpainting. We could be precise and very methodical and set up the painting to solve potential problems. Doing a value underpainting by creating a value map does this. Choosing colors to help create aerial perspective is another. This type of underpainitng is very controlled and has a purpose.

Sometimes though it is just good to let go and play. Try something and see what happens. It gives you freedom. It helps you interpret your subject instead of being too literal. Maybe there will be some happy accidents. A playful approach to an underpainting allows you to enjoy the painting process without concerns over the results. When I play a decent painting is a bonus because the true joy comes from the process.

For today's underpainting I decided to try some Pelikan pan gouache, a tube of white Holbein gouache and some coarse salt. I was hoping for some suggestion of texture from the salt on the wet paint which did occur. I used the white paint thinly in some areas to start building up the blooms in the trees. I used white Pastel Premier paper.

click to enlarge to see the texture

It the end I had an interesting underpainting which made the pastel application fun. I have a basket full of art supplies which can be used for playful underpaintings. They come in handy for days like today when I just want to play. (They are also good for days when I just can't seem to get inspired or motivated to paint....just take out some supplies and see what happens!)


ROK said...

Everything you create, Karen, is an inspiration and quite delicious! Thank you.

robertsloan2art said...

That is so cool! I love the Pelikan pan gouache, recently replaced my lost set and have been enjoying it thoroughly. I got frustrated by the little tube of white though, wish they'd included a white pan to make it easier. I've got good Maimeri gouache to swipe a white tube from though, it's just inconvenient having to get something else out when I use it.

Love the salt effect and the laciness of the flowers. You really captured the feel of the blossoming trees! That's the fun of changing things up, you learn something on every painting and that affects all future paintings.