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Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Four Steps to a California Poppy Painting

'California Dreaming'          10x8          pastel       ©Karen Margulis
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 It was a wonderful trip. I am home from teaching a workshop in Santa Barbara California. I will be giving a full review of the workshop when my demo paintings arrive back home and I can take better photos. Today I just had to paint!  I downloaded the photos I took on the trip and printed out a selection that piqued my interest. It is not surprising that the last photos I took before heading to the airport were the first I was compelled to paint......Poppies! But not just any poppy. I had never painted the wonderful orange California poppies and I was excited to get painting. Follow along with me!

Cretacolor Hard pastels along with my reference photos
 STEP ONE:  I decided to do a wet underpainting so I would have a base of drippy grass-like pastel to respond to. I pulled out a set of hard pastels by Cretacolor. I haven't used these much but they were just the right colors for my poppies. They worked great with the alcohol wash. Look at the photo below at the interesting drips I got from the underpainting.

The alcohol wash underpainting
 STEP TWO: I begin the pastel application by reinforcing the dark shape behind the flowers. I used middle dark values of grayed down purples. This dark shape will be covered by the greens but I need to establish it early to act as the dirt that holds the flowers in place.

Reinforcing the dark shape
 STEP THREE: The flowers are blocked in by the underpainting.I needed to develop the background before finishing the flowers. I layered several greens that were mostly neutral or cool. I varied the marks to add interest to this  tangle of stems and grass.

Building up the grasses with greens
STEP FOUR: The last thing I did was to paint the stems and the poppies. I used dark green pastels on the sharpe edge to put in the stems. I used several values of orange and yellow orange to paint the poppies.  I began with the darkest red orange and layered the oranges. The yellow orange was the last color added. I made my strokes in the direction of the petal growth. You can see these steps in the next two photos.

Was I finished after these 4 steps? Scroll up to the top of the page to see the finished painting . Can you see what I added?  That was fun. I think I'll paint some more California Poppies.

Putting in the stems

Painting the orange poppies 

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