Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Behind the Scenes: Landscape on a Textured Surface



'Sunny Days'          10x14          pastel         ©Karen Margulis
available $155
I needed a little sunshine today. After painting snow for the last few weeks it was time for a landscape filled with sunshine. There is no better way to showcase the sunlight than with the addition of shadows! With that thought in mind I made a plan for today's painting. I'm taking you behind the scenes and inside my head as I share the thoughts behind the making of this painting.


a home made board with some fun texture
I had  leftover clear gesso and pumice concoction. I am working on a big painting and added texture this morning with the gesso and pumice powder. I didn't want to waste my concoction so I covered a piece of mat board with the leftovers. I added some gold Schminke powder just to see what would happen but I think I was too stingy with it and it didn't do much of anything.

After the board dried I drew my scene with a piece of Nupastel. I was drawn to this scene because of the wonderful light on the grasses and bushes. It would be a fun challenge to paint the shadows so the sunlit areas would be the star.

Blocking in the big shapes with mostly warm and cool colors

Next I blocked in the big shapes with one layer of color. I selected warm colors for the sunlit areas and cool colors for the shadows. You can see the ridges of the ground created by my brushstrokes. I didn't want the white of the board to be a distraction so I rubbed in this first layer with a piece of pipe insulation foam.

Rubbing in the first layer
Now I was left with a soft out of focus landscape. It was just a matter of adding detail and clarity where I wanted it. I began by reinforcing the colors in each shape.The texture of the board created an instant suggestion of grass and foliage. It also made it easy to keep my shapes simple.

Reinforcing the big shapes
It was now time to layer the colors in the trees and grasses. I reminded myself to use cooler blues and greens in the shadows and warmer oranges and yellows in the sunlit areas. I gradually added warmer and brighter colors in the sunlit grasses until I felt like they were sunny enough.

Ready for the details
Once all the colors were in place it was time for the smaller details. The texture already suggested grass so I only needed to put in a few  pieces of grass and hints of flowers.  I also reinforced the light and shadows on the pathway.

Not quite satisfied
 With the addition of a few bright green spices I called the painting finished. I took a photo and was getting ready to upload it to the blog when I realized the blue shadows on the path were not quite right. They were too light and bright. It didn't look like shade. So it went back to the easel for a correction! It was an enjoyable afternoon immersed in the sunshine!  What's on your easel today?

close up of the texture

4 comments:

KAS said...

I love this painting! It reminds me of the many walks I have taken with my father. As for what is on my easel, I am working on a pastel of a cardinal for a neighbor!

robertsloan2art said...

I love the rich dappled shapes of your shadows. The article's great and seeing your process is always fascinating. Gold powder in the gesso not shimmering wasn't a surprise to me. I used a metallic gold base on a painting that I covered with clear Colourfix primer and found out my shining metallic gold turned into a flat yellow ochre through the primer. I think the acrylic base cancels out the metallic effect, does something to the light and the specks of mica that create it. I had to wash over the primer with metallic gold watercolor, though that worked beautifully and did give the painting a good metallic gold background.

Of course I could get the same effect with metallic pastels afterward, but if I'd planned it that way I'd have used more of a rust or russet color under it than the yellow ochre.

Scarlett Redbud said...

I love your paintings. It would help immensely, however, if I were to see your original photos so I can see why you painted it the way you did.

Karen said...

Thank you Scarlett! I don't usually post my reference photos because they have been printed out very small and I am not able to find the digital copy in my collection of 50,000 photos. It would take too long to do a blog post if I had to search for the photo. I wish I could be better organized! Thanks for reading my blog!