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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Refining A Demo Painting: Bluebonnets!

'Dancing Through Life'          16x20          pastel         ©Karen Margulis
available $350
Painting in front of a group is always an interesting experience. When I paint a demo I am trying to verbalize what is going through my head as I paint. I have a running dialog with myself when I paint and when I demo I make this dialog public. Often times the demo becomes a learning tool and moves away from being a finished 'good' painting. A demo is often an opportunity to share certain techniques and painting concepts. When this happens, these demo paintings need further contemplation and work to be considered finished.

I've had this unfinished 16x20 demo sitting in my studio for a year now. It was started in my Uart workshop last spring. This morning it called out to be finished. I set it up on my easel and evaluated it. I needed a plan for the finish! Read on below to see what I decided to do to refine and finish the painting.

The original demo painting untouched from the demo easel

  • The unfinished demo had good bones but it was too dark and heavy. It was also too busy and the flowers weren't in the best places. It began life with an alcohol wash underpainting which you can see peeking through in places.
  • I began the refining by brushing off some of the busy marks. I used an old stiff bristle brush. I liked it better as soon as I simplified. It reminds me that is isn't always what you add but rather what you take away!

Brushed and simplified

  • Next I lightened and brightened the sky and the trees. I added more middle value earthy greens to give more definition to the trees.
  •  I also lightened the very distant tree line which was much too dark. This change created a greater illusion of depth.
  • I added more sky holes especially at the base of the trees opening them up.
  • I then sprayed the foreground with workable fixative so that I could get more texture and simplified foliage.
  • Beginning with the distant field I added more greens. I used  lighter cooler and neutral greens in the distance.
  • Finally I addressed the flowers. Bluebonnets are more violet than blue so I added more color to the flowers.
  • I also added hints of flowers in the distance again to create more depth.
  • I refined a few of the focal flowers and added the light bit to the tops of the flowers. I did use a harder blue pastel to add some definition to a few petals.
  • The final step was to add bits of yellow flowers as spices.

closeup view of the bluebonnets


Verna Puglisi said...

Thanks for showing me that there is hope for the several unfinished or 'not quite right' paintings just waiting for me to pick them up again. I am going to try using fixative to revive an overworked good painting on cheap paper. That was before I began using better materials.

Kevin Quattlebaum said...

This is the best bluebonnet painting you have done by far - it just sings
"Texas Our Texas"!


Your paintings are always very captivating and have so much charm !!!
Happy First of May !!!