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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

A Tip for Painting a Very Busy Landscape

'Down in the Clover'             10x8         pastel        ©Karen Margulis
available $175
I've decided I like my meadows wild and free. The more tangled and out of control the more I intrigued I am. It isn't easy to paint though. I don't want to totally tame it but I also don't want to get lost in the busyness of the scene. We know it is important to simplify. But how do you simplify and still keep the feeling of the freedom of the flowers and grasses of the meadow? The answer is easy.

Paint the flowers and grassy stuff last.

Too often we get excited about the colorful flowers and interesting shapes and textures of the grasses. We rush to put them into our painting. The problem we run into is that the flowers are not anchored.....they are floating on an unfinished background. We then have to add all of the grassy stuff and before we know it we have a overly complicated overworked painting.

In today's painting I simplified the busy meadow by painting the big simple shapes of the background first....the trees and the dirt. Scroll down to see the progress shots.

my reference photo....another Maine summer meadow

block in of the big shapes using three values

Staring with the trees and the sky

midway through the painting
Once I have painted the background trees and sky I spend time working on the grass underlayer. Notice I don't paint the detailed grasses and leaves yet. Instead I paint some purple dirt color and green grass color all with big broad strokes. I also start to indicate the shape and color of the flowers.

Then and only then will I  put in the details of the grasses and flowers. I use harder pastels for these calligraphic marks. I am free to put in as much detail as I want. For today's painting I decided to put in more detail in the grasses than I usually do and had a great time!

close up
Painting notes: 10x8 art paper that I toned medium brown with thin acrylic paint.


Dees said...

Thank you for all your tips and tutorials!! I would love to paint wildflowers but do indeed get tangled and it turns out looking "messy"and not very realistic....I am going to have a go again using this post as a guide, thank you so much!!! I love everything you paint! and I mean EVERYTHING! every little grass or flower! it looks so realistic!Happy Wednesday!

Linda Kriegel said...

I love the angle of this painting! Beautiful!

robertsloan2art said...

I love this technique! For one thing, I like all those exquisite details and don't like seeing all meadows in loose focus. For another, this method gives you interesting ripples of color and value in the darks between the brighter grass strands and leaves. There's real complexity in the photo and in life, in the darks between bright stems and leaves. There's so much of it that photorealism in a small piece can get incredible - as long as the design of the painting actually works.

You've got an easier way to go about it though and introduce some randomness of your own in those big blocky strokes. It doesn't matter which hue shift or slight value difference comes into which gaps - it matters that the colors are harmonious and the values map out to strong design. Complex little details fade into a texture on that all important first glance, then become important as the eye roams through the painting discovering all those little pleasing moments in the meadow. That's how fine detail's supposed to work. Much better than either painting all loose or hyper-detailed from the top.

LannieK said...

That is just beautiful! I needed that reminder as I tend to paint the details all at once. Thank you!

Linda Kriegel said...

And yeah, Karen! What he said!!