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Thursday, September 19, 2019

Lessons From an Unexpected Painting

'After the Storm'                  9x12               pastel             ©Karen Margulis

Sometimes you paint something ahead of your time. Did that ever happen to you? The moment when you finish a painting and look at it in awe and wonder how you ever painted it and will you ever be able to do it again?  It might not happen again for awhile. But I am convinced that those paintings are telling us something. We need to set them aside and listen to what they are saying.

A few years ago I found an older painting of mine that I didn't listen to right away. Perhaps I wasn't ready to hear what it had to tell me. I was looking for a 16x20 gold frame to use at my daughter's wedding and came across the painting in the frame stacked in my storage studio space. It brought back memories. It was once my very favorite painting. (see below)

I can't remember exactly when I painted it but I know it was early in my pastel journey....back in 2006 or 2007?? But I DO remember how I felt when I painted it. I was excited. It was so different for me. I had been painting a lot of beach scenes and animals and even still life things. This was my first attempt at 'weeds'. I had an emotional connection to the scene and treasured the bad photo I had taken of a memorable evening. I painted this scene from my heart and soul. It meant something and it showed. The painting almost painted itself!

But I didn't really listen to the message it was giving me. I kept painting the same things....beaches, birds, food.....small daily paintings. Had I studied the painting I might have discovered my truth....the subject that really makes my heart sing is wildflowers and weedy stuff! The clue showed up before I was ready to listen.

Last night I was going through old reference photos and found the photo that inspired the painting. I decided to revisit it again and the latest version is at the top of this post!
Do you have a favorite painting that surprised you? What is it telling you?


Jean K. said...

Yes, even though I consider myself a beginner, last year I did a pastel painting at a plein air painting workshop that basically "painted itself". I was swept away by the scenery and created something I humbly say was quite nice. Afterward, I spent the money and had it matted/framed (first time ever). Couple reasons I framed it: it was a loose style which I didn't try to retouch (I have tendency to overwork things); and it captured the beautiful view I experienced in nature. It took a couple months for me to boldly hang it up in my home...but glad I did. It reminds me of the joy and sense of freedom I felt that day.

Amanda said...

This is really interesting Karen, and is related to a question I have been asking myself. I really want to paint moody interiors. Not just still life, something a bit beyond that. I guess I am inspired by Hopper - I know - but why not aim high? The thing is nobody teaches how to paint interiors, or not that I have found, so I have been painting landscapes with you on Patreon. As a total beginner, I am certainly learning skills, and it is fun, you are a terrific teacher, but I don’t experience that “joy”. I do wonder how best to try to move in the direction that interests me. Do you have any suggestions?

Karen said...

Amanda you have a great question! As beginners we need to learn the basic concepts of art such as composition value color theory and of course pastel techniques. But we can practice them on any subject that inspires us. If there are no teachers of interiors study the masters of interiors and see what they did. Apply what you’ve learned about pastel to those subjects. Make copies at first but then paint from your own protists and life and ideas.