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Tuesday, June 09, 2020

Simplifying a Complex Scene....and Adding Structures!

'High Country'              9x12             pastel              ©Karen Margulis
available $175

 This is another landscape that I have been wanting to paint. It was too complicated. I avoided it. Every time I leafed through my stacks of photos it would call to me. But I put it aside. Too many buildings and much too busy. I rarely put structures in my paintings  Today I decided that it was high time to paint it. All I really needed to do was simplify it. Simple right?

Well it turns out that it wasn't as complicated as I thought. All I really needed to do was look at the big picture. Instead of counting every tree, each building, every window and door..... I looked at these things as simplified shapes. I painted with the side of my pastel for as long as I could so that I could make broad flat strokes.

  • I began the painting on a piece of orange LaCarte paper.  I used hard pastels to block in the simple shapes that made up my scene. I Indicated the darkest shapes of the tree trees and the shadowed foreground. 
  • Next I did the lightest shapes which was the sky and the light tin roof. 
  • I used a cool blue to block in the distant mountain shape.
  • I added more dull orange to the mid ground which will act as dirt for the green grasses to come. 
  • I made sure to connect my dark shapes to make a stronger framework. 
  • I rubbed in this layer with a piece of pipe insulation foam. This step gave me an immediate simplified roadmap to follow. Just seeing all of the details as simple shapes helped me get stated on what had been a daunting reference.

The block in of simple shapes. 

Just think of your block-in or first layers of the painting as a flattened simplified collection of related shapes. It is almost as if I took my finished painting and put it thorough a machine that squeezed out the details and left me with simple flattened shapes.

Once I had this simple block-in it was much easier to gradually add smaller and smaller marks on top of the flat shapes. These smaller marks of different colors and values allowed me to have control over the level of detail I wanted. And those scary buildings became simple marks that suggested a building!

1 comment:


Very beautiful landscape paintings !!!