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Friday, December 14, 2018

Why Choose a Blue Underpainting?

'A Light in the Darkness'             8x10         pastel       ©Karen Margulis
available $150

You know me. I don't like to waste good pastel paper. So when I used a piece of Art paper to demonstrate an exercise for the Patreon group I knew I would repurpose it somehow. I had made some marks with a blue pastel so the first thing I did was to add other blue marks.....some dull blue and some turquoise on top of the darker blue marks. Just random blue marks. Then I used my old cheap paint brush and some rubbing alcohol and liquified the pastel marks. I let it drip and mingle.

The result was the blue abstract underpainting shown in the photo below. I had to decide what to do with it. The blue reminded me of ice. It made me cold so I thought 'snow'! I went through my winter reference photos and found the perfect scene. A sun setting in the distance of a very cold winter scene. The blue underpainting was perfect. WHY?

The blue underpainting was an alcohol wash over some demo marks

Underpainting color choices matter! Especially if you have a light touch and allow layers to peek through. I like my underpainting colors to peek through my final layers. Because of this the colors I choose need to harmonize with the upper layers. I can choose more than one color for the underpainting but sometimes it is easy to choose just one color family. In the case of this painting I knew I wanted a feeling and mood of cold. Using the cool color of blue will help promote the cool feeling the scene. I also know that my reference has a small area of orange. Since blue is the complement of orange I know that the blue in the underpainting will make the orange glow more exciting.

The first dark layer of the painting. You can see the underpainting peeking through.

The pastels I used for the painting


Verna Puglisi said...

Karen, you are a genius!
The complementary colors of this painting jumped out at me immediately. That you recognized and used the happy accident of the perfect underpainting is amazing.
Creating and developing the perfect underpainting is something I have been struggling with all year. You seem to create someathing out of nothing with a mere hint of a future painting. I recently tried to use a strong green underpainting to show the stark contrast of a white horse against a lush green pasture, but failed. It’s still worth another try. Thank you—I will be starting another and hope to come closer this time.

Jürgen said...

Karen, danke für die hilfreichen Erläuterungen und das gelungene Bild.Welche Bedeutung hat für dich die Farbe des Pastellpapiers oder spielt das bei einer Untermalung keine Rolle mehr?
Einen schönen zweiten Advent!

John A Root said...

I absolutely love your second underpainting. Abstract and yet so full of moody atmosphere. I really like the final version as well. Your lessons so wonderfully given here, are really appreciated by those of us in the learning stage. Then again, aren’t we all learning?

KAS said...

This is a wonderful pastel painting! The blue and turquoise underpainting was the perfect choice for a scene at this time of day with its cool shadowy areas. The pop of warmth from the setting sun is just right. And your sure strokes of pastel are an inspiration to me. Thank you, Karen!