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Saturday, November 12, 2016

Daily Pastel Practice...KISS is The Word of the Day

'Quiet Contemplation'         18x24        pastel        ©Karen Margulis
available $500
If you are wondering how it is possible to paint something everyday this is your weekly advice column. Last week I discusses why I make time for daily painting practice and I heard from so many of you who are already painting everyday and many who want to start. This is great and I want to encourage you to keep it going.

I know how challenging it is to come up with painting ideas. So this weekly post is designed to jumpstart your paintings for the week. This week I address the problem of TIME.  It is hard to find the time to paint especially when you work and have other obligations. I recommend setting a timer for 20 minutes or less but can you actually paint something in 20 minutes? You can is you remember the world of the day KISS.


It is really amazing at how little detail our brains need to fill in the blanks and identify an object. Sometimes the shape alone can be enough. This means we really don't need to paint every leaf or bad of grass for our viewers to know our intentions. This is good news for painting with a time restraint. Details take time.  Here is a suggestion for KISS:

  • Start with a soft out of focus underpainting or block in. A wet underpainting will accomplish this but blending your first layer will do the same. You are left with out of focus shapes. You can then decide where you want to put the most detail and clarity.  This method allows you to leave some areas mysterious and interesting.

The close up photo above shows how I kept the tree soft and simple. You can see the dark shape of the tree underneath the suggestion of foliage. There are no individual leaves yet we know it is a tree.


Ruth Palombo Weiss said...

Since the disaster of an election last Tuesday and my vow not to watch news anymore, I am dedicating the evening news hour or 1/2 hour if you only watch national news, as my time to paint pastels. Maybe I'll be able to finish 365 paintings this year--imagine what I can do in 4 years, even if I don't actually manage one a day.

Robert Hopkins said...

Wonderful painting! The blues and purples in the trunks of the trees are so much fun to look at.

robertsloan2art said...

Great article! I've got only one tip to add, it does help to work a bit small. Filling a big 18" x 24" sheet with pastel is going to take a while even if it's very broad and simple. Doing an 8" x 10" or even 4 x 6" painting can be accomplished in no time, and if you love the results you can always scale it up in another painting. Those little ACEO/ATC size minis are even better for fast results.

Also if you keep a lot of small paper and materials handy in the same place all the time, it's a lot easier to paint every day. What worked out for my daily painting under current circumstances is most often pen and watercolor, but pastel can work too. The main reason I'm not doing as many now is logistic, I'm waiting for my studio/cottage to be built. Once that's sorted, my pastels will always be in reach with supplies handy and easy to sort through.