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Sunday, May 29, 2016

A Simple Tip for Painting White Flowers

'Freedom'        15 x 20       pastel           ©Karen Margulis
I call it 'Turning on the Lights'.  It is my favorite part of the painting process. It is when the painting start to come to life. I have learned to anticipate this part and not to rush it. It's kind of like eating your dinner first even though you'd much rather eat that nice big piece of chocolate cake. It will ultimately taste better if you take care of the business of eating a healthy dinner first.

So what do I mean by turning on the lights? It simply means I establish the dark and middle values of the painting first. I save the lightest values until last.  I gradually build my color and values and apply the light on top of the darker layers. I work this way for most subjects but it is easy to see when I paint white or very light flowers such as these Queen Anne's Lace. (from my trip to Normandy)

My Diane Townsend set of pure colors
 Today I decide to work on my last piece of salmon Sabertooth paper. It is an interesting surface. I also decided to use my Diane Townsend soft form pastels. I do like to challenge myself to work with  materials that are not my 'regulars'.

I begin the painting by blocking in the big shapes. I am using some warm colors to provide interest for the coming green grass. I start the flowers with a middle value VIOLET.

Here is the simple tip:  I want the flowers to be dark and cool. I know I want them to be light and warm eventually so I begin with the OPPOSITE. I will then be able to gradually add light and warmth to some of the flowers. I will leave the flowers in the shadows alone.

In the above photo you can see that I am starting to turn on the lights by adding a cool light to the violet base. They don't yet have the feeling of sunlight. To give this effect I need to use warmer and lighter values. In the finished painting you can see the sunlit flowers in contrast to the blue and violet flowers in the shadows.


Nathalie H.D. said...

How brilliant! I love your blog and paintings.
I do have a question regarding this particular post: is it easy to cover the darker colors with lighter ones? Don't you get a blending effect that tones them down?

Karen said...

Thanks Nathalie! It is easy to cover a dark area with light. It depends on how hard you press. If you press too hard the layers will mix and get muddy. I will do a blog post on this topic!

Marsha said...

Thanks. I just subscribed. After years of not knowing what to do with the urge to paint, last Oct I started 3 oil pastel classes. Oh my!! Now I am obsessed. Also trying a small picture a day. I need tips such as yours.

Laurel Donaldson said...

Karen I have just started pastel painting and your blogs and information are just wonderful. Your so generous for sharing.
Loving the journey.
Laurel in Australia