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Thursday, April 19, 2018

Interpreting a Landscape en Plein Air

'Uncovered Beauty'            8x10          pastel         ©Karen Margulis
available $145
 There are no rules! That is what I love about plein air painting. Most of the time when I paint en plein air ....outside from life...I try to be true to the scene. I try to capture the colors and mood of what I see. I treat my paintings as studies, as notes. They will later help me paint from the photos I took and to make my paintings feel like that particular time and place.

But sometimes I don't want to be true to the scene. I want the scene to inspire me and I want to simple respond to my painting. This is what happened for this plein air painting. I posted a photo of the painting on my easel on Facebook and I received several comments asking how I decided on the interpretation of the scene. I'd like to share my thoughts behind the making of the painting.

The block in with pastel. I did a dry wash to block in some color.
  • I was attracted to several things in my view. I liked the grouping of palm trees in the distance. I also liked the scrubby and sandy area leading to the trees. In this scraggly area of grass and sand there were patches of beach sunflowers. Of course I liked them!
  • I decided I would zoom into the palm trees. They would be my focal area. I would arrange the grass and sand and create an interesting lead in to the palms. I would expand the sand and arrange the flowers in interesting masses.
  • I blocked in the painting with warm colors for the grass and sky and cooler violets for the trees that were behind the focal trees. My thought was to have a warm sunny feeling. The painting is 8x10 on italian clay Pastel Premiere.
  • This is when the painting started to change my mind. I was really enjoying the warm yellow sky in my block in. In reality the sky was a clear deep blue. I could have changed my sky to match what I saw but instead I kept the warm yellow and added a gray blue violet giving the painting a completely different mood from the reality. I just went in the direction that my underpainting was suggesting.
  • We all can do this! There are always things that crop up in our paintings that suggest things that go against our plans or photo or scene. We just have to give ourselves permission to play...permission to see what happens if.... I'm glad I listened to my painting.



another plein air painting form the same location


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