Friday, June 02, 2017

Behind the Scenes of a Large Pastel Project

Study for 'A Special Place'     5x7      pastel       ©Karen Margulis

I love the challenge of an interesting commission. Especially when they are large. I love painting large but don't do it often since it is more difficult to store them. When it is a commission then I know the painting already has a home. I am working on a large commission project now and thought I would take you along on the journey from study to a finished painting.

 And a commission is a journey! I am never quite sure where it will take me when I agree to take on the project. Every commission is different of course. Some are quite specific and exact. Such as when the client has a special photo for example. Some clients give me free reign with only a few requirements. These are the most fun to do. But no matter what type of project I am working on it always begins with a small study. I am currently in the study stage of this commission.

Study #1 5x7 pastel
The painting will be large.....24x32 so I want to be sure that the client and I are on the same page! It is much easier to make adjustments on a small scale so I am working on 5x7 studies until we agree on the final composition and colors. It's always a good idea to do small studies for client approval and it this case I am very glad I did.


  • The process began with the client sending me images of my work that she liked. It gave me a good idea of the subject and colors but it was too broad to come up with a plan. 
  • In the next step  I asked for more specific details. I made a list of these details and painted study #1 based on the client's requests....a landscape with a bright blue mountain, trees on the mid ground, a flower meadow with tall blue flowers and bright rasberry flowers, a colorful sky with pink, blue and yellow. whew! I wasn't sure how all of those elements would work together but I enjoyed the results! (study #1 above)
  • At this point my client discovered my marsh paintings which really spoke to her. She asked if it was OK to change the direction of the painting. Of course! It is a journey and I am enjoying the ride. So I created another small study with the new requests. (at top of page) Water, dramatic sky, trees and a purple/gold color palette. I am waiting for feedback before I go any further. 
I hope to get started on the larger painting this weekend and I will keep you posted!

1 comment:

MaryB said...

Hey, Karen--Long time commenter, first-time reader...(?) No, I've been reading & using your fantastic ideas for years. Thank you so much. I wanted to say that your 2nd study,(using purple/gold) with its dramatic sky & water, is awesome, simply stunning. Your style seems 'simple' but it is HARD to be so loose! I strive to make a mark & leave it alone--I can't. I guess I dislike my first marks. Oh well. Again, thank you so, so much for all your valuable lessons. L&K, MaryB