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Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Must See Painting Transformation

'Buried Treasure'            11x14           pastel         ©Karen Margulis
available $175
 This may be my favorite painting transformation yet. I love taking older or unfinished paintings and transforming them into something new. I usually stick pretty close to the original image. Occasionally I wipe off the whole painting and start over. This painting underwent an unexpected transformation and I am happy I let the painting do the talking!

The original unfinished demo
The painting began life as a plein air demo for my workshop last month in Texas. The lesson for the demo was on creating depth. I didn't really resolve the painting since it was a visual aid for a lesson. I pulled it out today and decided to work on it some more.

Since it was on a piece of mounted Uart (True Grit Panel from French Canvas) I knew I could easily do an alcohol wash to simplify the busy painting. My intention was to redo the painting creating a foggy moody feeling. I wanted to turn the path in silvery water.

After using some rubbing alcohol and a brush.
 Notice how dark the underpainting got after the alcohol wash. I did not brush off any pastel so it did get a bit thick in places.  I flipped through my reference photos while I waited for the alcohol wash to dry. I found a moody marsh scene that was perfect but I also found a wildflower meadow that caught my eye. Could I turn this painting into a meadow with pink flowers?  Why not! The dark shapes of the underpainting formed the perfect bones for the meadow.

Blocking in the new painting

I tested out my idea by blocking in a dark path and a few flowers. I decided it would work!  I started by painting wide areas of grasses pulling them up into the sky. Then I repainted the sky a pale blue and pulled it down into the grass.

My intention was to take photos of the next steps but I totally entered that zone when nothing else mattered but the painting. I completely enjoyed building up layers of flowers and grass. I did use several layers of workable fixative and pastel. You can see the texture created by these layers if you click and enlarge the photo.

close up
I'm not sure I ever would have guessed that the painting started life as a traditional landscape scene. I was so much fun to transform! Now back to wedding duties! We are in countdown mode!

TRY THIS: If you have a painting that needs help. Why not just change the subject! It can be quite liberating to start over. An alcohol wash on sanded paper gives you a blank canvas to play on!


Toine Philibert said...

Wow, Karen, what a wonderful transformation. (Although I did like the original painting also...)

Linda Kriegel said...

I've started "washing" some of my first practice paintings with rubbing alcohol and have been pleased that not all the tooth is gone. I bought some Blair fixative and have tried it sparingly in the darker areas. I like the results. Testing to see how many layers I can go. Thanks for sharing!