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Saturday, December 02, 2017

How Long Should You Let a Painting Sit?

'Through the Woods'          12x18           pastel       ©Karen Margulis
available $195
You know what they say about fresh eyes. If you are struggling with a painting or not sure you are finished, set it aside and come back to it later with fresh eyes. But how long is long enough? Sometimes all it takes is a few minutes away from the easel....stepping back, getting a snack and coming back with more clarity. Sometimes the answers elude us. It takes more time and growth as an artist for us to see what will be obvious at some point. The more we study and paint the easier it will be to see the obvious.

It is hard to grasp the idea that someday we will know what to do to resolve a stubborn painting. It seems so out of reach. But it will happen with perseverance. So there really is no rule or guideline on how long to leave a painting alone. It depends on the artist. 

Sometimes a painting will surprise you. It will show you that you really have grown! It happened to me today! Have a look at the painting in the photo below. It was painted last year. I liked it. I thought I had done a good job. But when I pulled it out of my winter painting pile today I saw some things that I could have done better.  I put the painting on my easel and made a few subtle adjustments. Look carefully at the painting below and then read my comments to discover my 'fixes'.

The original painting before the subtle adjustments
  • The creek was going uphill especially in the background. It wasn't sitting level with the ground. It was a slight incline and one that I didn't notice last year but it was a bit unsettling. I used some dull snow color to carve into this distant creek to level it. 
  • The creek was leading the eye but was it where I wanted the eye to go? The strong dark creek in the distance was leading the eye directly to the orange bushes. That part was OK but then where would the eye go? I didn't plan for that part. I needed to pull the eye back over to the right side of the painting. So I dulled and softened the end of the creek and I added a tiny subtle line of blue leading back to the trees on the right. I hope to suggest the water sneaking back over to the right.
  • Now the right side of the painting was too fuzzy! The light trunks of the trees needed to have a bit more clarity. It was a fine line. I didn't want them to shout for attention but I did want there to be a little more to see. I refined a few of the trunks and added some fine branches with a pink Nupastel.
  • The snow wasn't as crisp as it should be. The snow in the foreground needed to be a bit more crisp and bright in a few places. I wanted to have some contrast between the softness of the snow with a few spots of crisp snow. I added some heavy marks of a brighter light pastel creating a pathway of subtle contrast. 


Close up of the areas I adjusted


1 comment:

robertsloan2art said...

Love the improvements. Thanks for going over them in detail! This painting gives me the chills, it feels so damp and cold just a glance at it draws me into that weather.