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Tuesday, September 05, 2017

How To Reimagine a Painting

'Autumn Comes to the Marsh'           16x20         pastel         ©Karen Margulis
available $250
I unpacked my bags after the workshop. I uncovered my unfinished demos and felt the excitement build. I couldn't wait to organize my teaching supplies so I could paint! I am home today after a fantastic experience team teaching with Marsha Savage in Blue Ridge Georgia. I will review our workshop in tomorrow's post. I had an amazing time sharing with a group of talented artists.

 Should a demo be finished? 

Often Marsha and I do not finish a demo in a workshop. Demos for us are teaching opportunities. Their purpose  is to help us demonstrate concepts. We like to talk about what we are doing and answer questions. We also like to make sure the students have time to paint so we don't wish to take up hours to demo. I managed to finish two of my four demos so when I unwrapped the unfinished demo painting below I was excited to finish it in the studio.

My unfinished demo from Blue Ridge

I had to decide if I wanted to finish the scene I had started in the demo......or REIMAGINE and create a new reality. The demo served its purpose....teaching my technique for doing a plein air field study. But I wasn't excited to finish it. It was time to reimagine.

  1. reinterpret (an event, work of art, etc.) imaginatively; rethink.

My photo for inspiration

  • The first thing I did was flip through some of my small reference photos. I was looking for something that would make use of the 'bones' or big shapes of the existing painting. I found a couple of options but settled on the photo above. I loved the bright grasses and the light and shadows on the marsh. I would have to flip the image to make use of the dark tree shapes in the existing painting. (I flipped it in my mind) 

All brushed off and ready to reimagine

  •  Next, I removed as much of the pastel as I could without wetting the paper. I used a stiff brush to brush off the pastel. It was UArt paper so I could easily have used an alcohol wash or even washed it off in the sink.  I didn't want to wait for anything to dry so I just brushed off as much pastel as I could. with a bristle brush. I was left with a soft ghost image of the original painting.

Drawing the new composition with blue Nupastel

  • My next step was to draw the new shapes over the ghost image. I used a spruce blue Nupastel to block in the new horizon and big tree shapes.
  • I started building the layers on top of the ghost image. I did use workable fixative several times while building the layers. This provided me with more tooth to work with. 

Blocking in the first few layers
  • At this point I got into the my passionate intuitive place where I just paint. I forgot about the camera on the shelf beside me as I painted. Before I realized I didn't take photos I was finished!
The finished painting

  • Find a subject that works with the color palette of your original or consider the original to be underpainting colors.
  • Make small color notes to try out new color schemes.
  • Consider your original painting the underpainting. It will support the new scene.
  • Be's only paper. If the new idea doesn't work...scrub it out and try something else.
  • Try to paint something that isn't related to the original...this will give you more freedom to explore the new subject without trying to return to the original.
  • Don't be afraid to experiment with wetting the pastel with alcohol or even water.
  • Try painting over the original with clear gesso . This will create a muddy textured surface which is a great base for a reimagined scene.
  • Reimagining is very liberating. Once you brush out an unfinished or bad painting you have nothing to can only get better!


Ricardo García said...

Hello Karen!
Do you usually work with large formats like 16x20 for your demos?
I thought it would be better to work with smaller sizes.
Greetings and thank you!

Karen said...

Hi Ricardo,
Good question. I use a variety of sizes for my demos but I often use larger sizes so that it is easier t see what I am doing especially with a large group. It is hard for a crowd to see what is happening on an 8x10.

Robert Hopkins said...

Wonderful painting!

tres said...

Wow!!! That color is gorgeous!

Carem said...

Karen you are amazing and such an inspiration. I truly appreciate all your hard work and look forward to your emails everyday. I have learned so much.