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Monday, November 09, 2020

A Tip For Adding Complex Structures to Your Landscape Paintings

               'Summer in Alaska'               12x9             pastel             ©Karen Margulis   available $265

The reference photo for this painting was in my pile for over a year. Ever since I stumbled upon this back alley of an Alaskan town I have been wanting to paint it. There was just something intriguing about the combination of nature and man made. But I was daunted. I don't usually put structures in my paintings and this scene had too many manmade features for my comfort level. But part of growth is to work to overcome challenges and since we are focusing on adding structures over in my Patreon group it was time to give this scene a try!

I had a trick up my sleeve though. I don't know why I don't use this technique more often. Well actually I do. It works best for more complicated subjects. A simple landscape with trees and flowers (my typical subject) doesn't need this helpful tip. What is it? Paint UPSIDE DOWN! Not your body upside down, turn your reference photo upside down!  This trick short circuits your brain and allows you to see shapes rather than specific things.  It seems crazy but it really works!!

Here is my initial block in. I started with the photo upside down and instead of labeling the objects I used art words to describe them. Instead of saying I was painting a white building I told myself I was blocking in a warm light shape that is a triangle.  After the block in I turned the painting right side up and the buildings magically appeared! It was so much fun! Bring on the structures!

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1 comment:


Very beautiful painting, bravo Karen !!!