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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Using Clear Gesso to Simplify Autumn Trees

'Call Me Crimson'             8x10          pastel            ©Karen Margulis
painting available $145
 It's a toss up between autumn and spring. Both are challenging to paint. There is so much color and texture. In both seasons the trees put on a show. Some years are better than other but every year I am still challenged by the display.

The biggest problem I have in the fall is wanting to put too much into my paintings. I want the red tree and the fiery orange tree and of course I love the yellow ones.....and they are often found all together. How to edit this overload of information?


  • I first remind myself that all color is no color. I don't want everything to be screaming with color. One of every color tree might be overload for a painting. Why not keep it simple and concentrate on just one tree or a small grouping. I don't need them all in one painting!
  • I keep my trees simple by thinking of each tree as a lump of clay. I shape it into the general shape of the tree and block in the big simple shape. I use negative painting to carve away at the tree making the shape more interesting. (more on this soon!)
  • I don't paint every leaf. Instead of painting lots of leaves I use texture to suggest foliage. One of my favorite ways to get texture is to work on paper prepared with clear gesso. The clear gesso is gritty and provides texture. I apply the gesso with a gesso brush in random strokes. You can prepare the entire board with gesso or just the tree shape. Let it dry and paint. The pastel will go over the rough gesso and will appear textured/broken strokes.



Painting notes: This painting is on a piece of mat board prepared with Liquitex clear gesso. It is 8x10. There is no underpainting though I did blend the first layer to push it into the grooves of the dried gesso. 

5 comments:

Elcin said...

Hello Karen, I have been following you for years. How do you compare your very early paintings to recent ones? Is this a talent from birth or does it get better with practise?

Debbie Strickland said...

Would sanded paper create similar effect as the gesso?
Debbie

Karen said...

Debbie, not really since sanded paper has a very regular and even application. When you apply the gesso you get random and uneven texture due to the variation of the brushstrokes.

Anonymous said...

Do you have a demo that shows how to use gesso?

Karen said...

Yes. Here is a link to that blog article http://kemstudios.blogspot.com/2015/12/cheap-and-easy-way-to-make-sanded.html?m=1