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Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Finding the Good in a Bad Painting

'The Secret Garden'            8x10         pastel        ©Karen Margulis
available $150
 It is day two of the Great Summer Studio Clean up. Things are progressing nicely. I spent the morning organizing my finished paintings. I store them in boxes and they had become mixed up over the last year. It was fun to sort through old paintings. Some were fun to see and surprised me but many were just plain bad....I ended up with a big pile of BAD.

It is a good thing to have bad paintings. That means you are making progress. It means that you are learning what makes a painting strong and when it isn't working. Bad paintings are a sign of growth.

We have to paint miles of bad paintings before we can consistently paint good ones.

Yet I can't bring myself to throw out a bad painting. Not only do I not want to waste good paper, I want to learn from my mistakes. I want to challenge myself to see the good parts of a painting and build upon that.

An assortment of unfinished paintings to be recycled
This afternoon I needed to take a painting break so I selected a painting from the recycle pile to rework. I am still excited about exploring the reference photos I took in Chicago so I found an old painting that I could turn into a summer prairie garden. Let's look at the good I found in this dull painting and how I transformed it.

Old plein air painting rescued from the recycle bin....a bit dull

  • The old painting had a nice lead in pathway and I like the strong tree line. Both of these elements were in my new reference photo. Otherwise the painting was too busy and overly warm. It needed help!
  • I brushed down the painting leaving a ghost image of the scene. I then sprayed it with workable fixative to restore some tooth. This was a piece of Pastel Premier sanded paper.
  • I reinforced the dark trees and added some dark 'dirt' in the meadow. I slightly adjusted the path.
  • I changed the color of the sky to a warm early morning yellow and cut into the tree line changing the shape and type of trees.
  • I worked on the trees adding the greens of summer. I added a blue green to the distant trees.
  • Next I worked on the grasses and flowers. This is a naturalized prairie garden in the city. This park provides inspiration for many of my paintings and it was wonderful to paint it in it's summer glory.
  • The flowers were just starting to bloom while I was there adding a bit of color to the wonderful green grasses.

Try This: Can you find something good in a painting that you think is bad? Play up the good part and make it into something new!

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