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Wednesday, January 10, 2018

What to Paint When you Don't Have a Clue

'Marsh Music III'          8x10        pastel       ©Karen Margulis
available $145
Have you ever spent your whole painting time trying to find something to paint? Sometimes I am just so filled with inspiration that I can't get to it all fast enough. But sometimes even in my stacks of photos nothing calls out to be painted. It can be frustrating and often leads to a standstill in our work. I have something that never fails to break me out of this 'Don't Have a Clue' painting rut.

Start an Exploration Series. See how many variations you can make of a favorite scene. 

An Exploration Series never fails to get me excited because I get to return to an old friend....my comfort zone with a twist. Read on for the details.


The start of an Exploration Series

  •  Choose a painting that you have enjoyed painting and that you are pleased with. For the best results choose something simple that you can reproduce in a relatively short amount of time. That intricate still life won't be a good choice but the simple landscape will work great.
  • Set the time limit that you will spend on each new painting. 30-60 minutes is ideal so that you don't get too fussy and lose interest in the project.
  • Plan to work on the series for a set number of paintings that you think is doable....say 10 to start with.
  • Paint the same scene but change something in every painting. Some ideas: change the underpainting technique, change the time of day, change the mood, change the color palette, change your mark making. Put on your 'what if' hat. The sky is the limit.
At the end of the set time put all of the paintings together and take note on what discoveries you made. I always find comfort in using the familiar to branch off and explore.

My latest Exploration Series started by accident but I am hooked. I am looking forward to getting in the studio each day to see how I can interpret my marsh!  Give it a try!


Trying a warm 4 value underpainting

Before adding the green stuff

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