|'Music of the Marsh' 8x10 pastel ©Karen Margulis|
It was a pearl of wisdom. Just a sentence but it was just the bit of advice I needed to hear. How many times do we have a painting that has good bones but just doesn't sing? I have piles of paintings that sit waiting for resuscitation. But it is sometimes hard to know just what they need.
I came across this pearl last week in a Facebook post. It was advice from Frank W. Benson (1852-1951) an impressionist plein air painter who focused on capturing the light. Here is his simple but profound bit of advice:
"If you find a thing is going badly, go back and make more strongly the effects of light and shadow." Frank W. Benson
|The 'before' painting|
I searched through my pile looking for a painting that could benefit from this advice. I found an old one done several years ago. It was painted on Pastelbord which is why I had not thrown it away. It needed help!
- It was too busy...there were too many blades of grass and leaves on the bushes.
- The pathway didn't sit right and came up from the corner leading nowhere.
- The aerial perspective or sense of depth was not there.
- There was no strong sense of light and shadow...where was the light coming from?
|I brushed off most of the fussy marks to simplify|
To emphasize the light on the marsh I expanded the shadowed area in the foreground. By darkening and expanding the shadows I was able to emphasize the light on the grass. I used a heavier hand when painting the light on the grass so that it contrasted with the darker shadows. I also changed the size and direction of the path adding light to the sunlit portions of the path.