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Saturday, September 15, 2018

The Power of Suggestion in Painting

'Lowcountry Magic'            9x12            pastel           ©Karen Margulis
available $175
I have wanted to paint this for several years. Ever since I took the photo one gorgeous morning in the South Carolina Lowcountry, I've kept it near the top of my reference photos pile. But I was intimidated. It had too many trees and too many trees equals too many leaves! I loved the colors and the mood and I loved the trees.....I just wasn't sure how to tackle them.

I have been painting more trees lately though so it was time to tackle this one. I have figured out ways to suggest the details in trees rather than try to paint every leaf. I had this photo as one of the choices in a recent workshop artist choice demo. Of course it was the photo the artists selected! So I tackled it on stage in front of a group of artists! At the end of the demo time I was satisfied but felt I could have been a bit less fussy.

"Suggest and let the viewer do the rest"

So I brushed off much of the pastel from the painting and wet the rest down with some leftover gamsol. This fixed the pastel into place and gave me a simplified roadmap to follow.

Underpainting ready for fresh pastel after a Turpenoid wash
  The 'fixed in place' pastel layer allowed me to rebuild the layers of color in the trees. I alternated layers of pastel with a light spray of workable fixative. This gave me another fixed layer and the pastel glided over the bottom layers leaving the suggestion of small leaves. Look at the photo below and you can see that I didn't have to paint single leaves yet the trees look like they are full of foliage!

At the finish of the painting I added a few small marks to indicate single leaf shapes. Our eye sees those leaves and fills in the blanks. We now can believe that this leaf belongs to an entire tree full of leaves. That is the power of suggestion. Harness it when you paint!

close up
We will be spending the month of November exploring trees in detail over on my Patreon page! Join us!

1 comment:

Teri said...

Nice NICE painting Karen! The reflections are super and the tree colors are beautiful. You can really see the layers back into the distance. Bravo!