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Friday, August 19, 2016

When the Underpainting Chooses the Subject

'A Moment of Silence'         9x12       pastel        ©Karen Margulis
Never waste a good piece of paper is my motto. So as I cleaned and organized the studio after my Sky workshop I needed to decide what to do with my scrap demo papers. I had a few pieces of Uart that I used to demonstrate various points about painting blue skies and clouds. Good paper covered in blue pastel!  I don't usually work on a blue toned surface but why not give it a try!

A stiff brush and some turpenoid allowed me to quickly spread the blue pastel and tone the sanded paper. It dried quickly and I was ready to paint.  But I had no idea what I would paint on the blue paper!

Art paper toned blue reminds me of my grandmother's bedroom when I was a child
Most of the time I have a subject and concept for a painting and then I decide on the paper type and underpainting technique. This approach allows me to choose the technique and colors that would help me to express my ideas. For example I love to do an oil stain underpainting for a field or meadow because the unusual drips help promote the illusion of grasses and weeds.

But now I was working backwards....I had the paper but I needed the right subject for the blue paper.  I skimmed through my basket of my reference photos that I recently printed (more on this soon) and one image spoke to me! I love when that happens. It was a photo I took last summer while in Normandy with Stan Sperlak's Painters passport group. We had stopped in a big field overlooking the sea for a photo op and of course I was drawn to the wildflowers. The setting  was special and I was filled with emotion. It was cool and very quiet and very blue. The perfect scene to paint on my blue paper. The blue tone would loan a feeling of softness, quietness and peacefulness to the scene. 

reference photo....Normandy, France

The color Blue: I remember my grandmother's bedroom. I must have been 5 or 6 years old and I wandered into the bedroom. The curtains were open and a gentle breeze blew the curtains. They were blue sheer curtains. Everything in the room was a pale gentle blue and it was very quiet and peaceful. I remember standing there in awe. Was this what heaven was like? I'll never forget that feeling of calm.


KAS said...

Another beautiful pastel of wildflowers and a beautiful memory of your grandmother's bedroom!

Dee Martella said...

What a beautiful story and painting. Thanks , Karen.