Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Painting Lessons from a Marsh

'Return to the Marsh'           8x10        pastel         ©Karen Margulis
available $125
There is so much to learn from painting a marsh. I can't think of a better landscape to demonstrate for someone new to pastels. I had the privilege today to share the wonderful world of pastels with a wonderful artist new to the medium. I love to be a pastel ambassador! I began our session with the introduction of the tools of the trade....testing pastels and papers. Then I did a demonstration of my easy 6 steps to a pastel painting. I chose a marsh as my subject.

Marshes are one of my favorite things to paint but they also allow me to talk about so many painting tips and techniques. Here are just a few. I will expand on each of them in future posts.


  • Simplification. Marshes can be a complicated tangle of grasses and water. Doing a thumbnail allows me to simplify the marsh into a few big shapes. Start the painting with big shapes and gradually build and add the details
  • Atmospheric Perspective: Marshes are expansive. They are a perfect candidate to practice the principles of atmospheric or aerial perspective. Learning how to create the illusion of depth is one of the most important things a landscape painter can learn. Marshes give us the material to exaggerate these changes.
  • Mark-Making: Marshes have so much interesting texture from the grasses and shrubs to the water. Practicing a variety of marks and learning how to manipulate the pastels to get the marks you want is important. A marsh allows for a lot of variety in mark making.
  • Skies: The sky is one of the most important parts of a landscape. It sets the mood and tone of the painting. Marshes allow for an expansive sky. It is fun to play with skies over a marsh.
  • Suggestion of detail: Learning how to suggest detail rather than painting every blade of grass is an important lesson. I have learned so much about painting grasses from a marsh. It is also fun to practice 'hinting' at buildings in the distance!

2 comments:

robertsloan2art said...

This one is so beautiful! I love the sky and water. It has great depth and in the sky I can see how simple your strokes are - big blocky scumbling strokes with the side of a stick, yet it comes out true and luminous. Love the color harmony here, rich in cool colors that are stronger and more saturated than the warms. The buildings in the distance do look interesting, tantalizing, a lot more exciting than if I saw them up close.

susan putnam- jensen said...

love the colors in this one.