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Saturday, October 29, 2016

Why Paintings Should Have a Story

'A Sweet Ending'          8x10         pastel        ©Karen Margulis
available $125
I keep looking at these paintings. I had placed them on a shelf when I returned home from the plein air event last month too busy to put them away. But I am glad that I didn't. They have grown on me. Not only are they a bit of an unusual subject for me, they have a story. Paintings mean more when they have a story. After all isn't that what painting is all about.....it is an expression of how you felt about something at a particular time and place. Recorded by your own hand and heart.

'An Apple a Day'        8x10      pastel      $125

Let me share the story behind these apple paintings. I was participating in my very first Quick Paint event at the Blue Ridge Georgia Plein air festival. It was September and it was unseasonably warm in the mountains. In fact it was downright hot with not a cloud in the sky for relief. We were scheduled to paint at Mercier Orchard so there was plenty of paintings subjects outside.....orchards, a pond, trees. But no shade. We only had an hour to paint so it wouldn't be too bad.....

My pastel set up with Marsha Savage in the distance

But then my friend had a better idea! I was painting with Marsha Savage and Nancy Nowak and Marsha decided that she would paint inside the orchard store. A display shelf full of apples caught her eye and she was excited to paint them. I walked around the store with my backpack and gear not too hopeful that I would find inspiration. After all I am mostly drawn to the landscape and store interiors didn't excite me. But it was cool in the air conditioned store so I decided that I would relax my mind and allow myself to find a subject.


When I relaxed I was open to the possibilities and the candy apple caught my eye. I picked it off the shelf with the intention of saving it for a snack but then I realized it would make a great subject....fun, whimsical, delicious!  I set it up on the shelf next to some granny Smith apples and set up my pastels.

We only had an hour to paint so when the horn blew I got started quickly with a watercolor underpainting. Since I had to wait for it to dry I decided to start another painting with just the green apples. No time wasted and two underpaintings done with 45 minutes left to paint.

I applied pastel quickly trying to capture the colors as well as creating a focal area with a suggested background. It must have looked pretty scary with the pastel dust flying but I did manage to finish both paintings in the hour time frame. As the horn blew again to signal the end of the competition a customer came up to me and told me he was very afraid for me while I was painting....he couldn't believe I managed to pull it off! It was a very satisfying feeling.

So that is my story. Understanding what goes on behind the scenes of a painting gives insight into its creation. Without the story it would be just another apple.

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