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Monday, May 16, 2022

New Explorations in the Studio!



I have had a lot of things going on in my studio! This blog has been neglected by me as I work on content for Patreon and Youtube. I need to schedule a regular update for my blog readers! I appreciate you all.  I began the year working on oil paintings. I wish I could say I followed through on my daily oil painting commitment but I didn't. My easel is still set up and waiting for me though!

I also took an online abstract workshop with Larry Moore. It was so much fun and I have been experimenting with ways to introduce abstraction to my landscapes. I won't change my style but I am having fun exploring another way of using pastel and interpreting my favorite subjects. 

The painting I am sharing today is 10x8 pastel. I was painting water lilies and was having trouble. I wiped out the painting twice! I decided to use the same color palette and turn it into a fun interpretation of wildflowers. 

What do you see in this painting? I had someone tell me they saw a coral reef! How fun! 

Sunday, May 15, 2022

What You Need to Know about Watercolor Underpaintings for Pastel ...A Mini Demo

'Summer Loving' 5x7 pastel ©Karen Margulis
Why bother with a watercolor underpainting? I am often asked why I would choose a watercolor underpainting for a pastel painting. For me it is the unpredictability of the watercolor. It is exciting to apply the paint and watch what it does. It drips and blooms and creates washes and new colors. All of these things create a more exciting base for my pastels. I can now respond to this underpainting and create a painting that has more of my input than if I just copied my reference photo. This wet, drippy underpainting frees me from the photo and allows me to truly interpret my subject. In yesterday's post I wrote about the supplies you will need. Now I would like to share some tips for a successful watercolor underpainting.
step by step demo of a watercolor underpainting
  1. (top left) After a loose pencil sketch, I begin by putting in my dark value watercolors. I use a mix of dark blues, reds ,greens and oranges. This is opposite of usual watercolor technique but I want to be sure I get nice strong darks. (I have the painting upright on an easel)
  2. (top right) Wait a few minutes for the darks to start drying. The paint doesn't have to be bone dry but you want it to loose the sheen. PATIENCE is the key. If you add more watercolor too soon it will drip onto your darks and wash them out. Now I add more color above the darks....I want some of this to drip.
  3. Close-up of the two layers of watercolor. You can see the top layer beginning to drip onto the first layer. What will happen? This is the exciting part!
  4. I need to wait and let this next layer lose it's sheen and start drying so I add some greens for the flowers. By chance a bead of paint formed at the base of each flower so I let these drip to become the stems. Fun!
  5. I add some red flowers and let them drip.
  6. Now the first layers that I applied are slightly wet so I draw into it with some green paint, I get some paint lifted and some stems. If it is too wet, this won't work. You can use a dry brush for texture of a spritz bottle for drops of water. I don't want to overdo the texture at this point.
  7. Close-up of the flower heads. Now I patiently wait for everything to dry further. Again it doesn't have to be bone dry you want it almost dry so that when we wash in the sky, it won't erase the flowers. I add a pink wash for the sky.
  8. Finished underpainting.
watercolor underpainting for an 18x24 pastel
Here is the finished underpainting. It is a large one for me 18x24. I will be working on the pastel application this week and I hope you will check back to see my progress. If I could give you only one tip for doing these w/c underpaintings it would be to have patience. I used to get very wimpy underpaintings because I was always in a rush to finish and so each wash of watercolor would erase the previous wash as it slid down the paper. Once I learned to let things get dry I have had better results!

Friday, March 25, 2022

It's Your Turn To Vote on a Demo Subject!


I'd love your input!  Soon I will be doing a video with Streamline Publishing! This is exciting news and I want to be sure to  paint the subject YOU want!  It will be so much fun to have the opportunity to do a full lesson and demo in a professional studio. I will be able to share my favorite tips and techniques in one comprehensive video!  

Click on the link at the top of the page to go to the official poll. Feel free to share your thoughts about subject matter in the comments below. I want to be sure I plan the best possible demo!

Thanks in advance for your help!

Here is the link to the poll:

Tuesday, March 08, 2022

New YouTube Video Demo:Capture the Glow of Sunset!

        'Sunset at the Fort'                  8x10             ©Karen Margulis                   pastel

You have an artistic license which mean you can interpret your reference photos however you’d like instead of copying them! In this video I share my secret for transforming a dull sunset photo into a painting that captures the warm light and glow of a sunset in the forest. Enjoy this quick 24 minute demo! Link to the video is below.
SUPPLY LIST 1. Multimedia Dartboard coated with tinted clear gesso 2. Art Graf Tailors block (black) 3. Terry Ludwig Floral Landscape pastel set 4. Misc. Nupastels and a few Sennelier pastels



Here is a close up of the beginning stages of the painting. You can see the rough texture of the gesso covered Multimedia Art board!


Monday, February 07, 2022

30 Minutes of Relaxing Pastel Painting: Video Demo

        'Relax at the Marsh'                 9x12              pastel        ©Karen Margulis        available $275

I tried something new! I have been enjoying YouTube videos that show artists painting to music. I find it mesmerizing. Even if it is not a medium of subject that interests me, I want to watch to see what unfolds! I thought it would be fin to try to make this type of video myself!

In this video I paint a serene marsh scene at sunset. I paint to music with no commentary so you can watch me paint at my intuitive best. Relax and watch the painting materialize from simple shapes to painterly detail in just 30 minutes! Enjoy the demo!



SUPPLY LIST 1. Wallis sanded paper 9x12 2. Blair Very Low Odor workable fixative 3. Terry Ludwig pastel Floral landscape set 4. Rembrandt pastels 5. Sennelier half stick pastels

Sunday, January 30, 2022

From Drab to Fab! Punch up a Dull Winter Landscape: Video Demo

How would you paint a drab winter landscape that doesn't have the interest of snow? The colors are dull and very brown. The sky is overcast and gloomy. I answer the question with a demo! In this video I share how I take a drab winter reference and make it more interesting using a bold underpainting. I loved the underpainting process for this painting and plan to do more. Maybe I will even leave them alone! SUPPLY LIST 1. Uart sanded paper 9x12 2. Jack Richeson Underpainting squares 3. Terry Ludwig pastel Floral landscape set 4. Rembrandt pastels 5. Sennelier half stick pastels

Click on the link below to watch the video on my YouTube channel!

Enjoy the demo and join me in my Patreon group for an expanded lesson!

Friday, January 07, 2022

This is the Year! Learning How to Paint with Oils

It was 2005. I picked up a pastel for the very first time. I had no idea how to use them. I had visions of beautiful paintings in my head but my hand could not get those fat sticks to make the marks I wanted. I began taking classes with a wonderful artist and teacher, Marsha Savage. But I still struggled. It wasn't enough to go to a class.....I needed to practice!  Enter this blog...Painting My World. I began to paint something small every day and blog about my experience. (you can still see this early posts in the archives)

Guess what happened? It worked! The blog became my accountability partner. I felt guilty if I didn't have a painting to post so I painted. The more I painted the more fluent I became with the language of pastel. Painting and blogging became a habit and the work I put into my paintings began to show. My paintings were improving and I was gaining followers to my blog which was an unexpected bonus. 

It is now 2022. I am now a full time artist and teacher of pastel painting. Many of you have followed me over to Patreon where I still post everyday and share my pastel lessons, demos and challenges. This blog has sadly been neglected. There are only so many hours in the day!  But it dawned on me that blogging about my art life has been a tremendous help to me in the past so I need to make time for it. 

Last week I had an idea! One of my goals this year is to become more fluent with oil painting. I have started and stopped a few times over the last few years. I would do a few paintings and then life got in the way and the paints got neglected. This year I want it to be different. I want it to feel just as liberating to paint with oils as it does with pastels. I have the tools. I am taking an online workshop with Scott Christensen. I am missing one ingredient to success.....PRACTICE!  I need to put in the time at the easel and the miles of canvas if I want to get better. Here is my plan:

  • I set up a dedicated easel and table devoted to oils. It has every thing I need to paint efficiently. I don't have to move or clean up this area (photos coming soon) This will be a no excuse oil painting area. It is all there. I have no excuse not to use it!
  • I made a commitment to success by getting new oil painting supplies. I treated myself to some of the finest materials....Rosemary brushes and Vasari oil paints. I know from my experience with pastels that having quality supplies can make a big difference. They are not magic but combined with practice they are worth every penny. 
  • I invested in great instruction. I joined Scott Christensen's Adventure of Painting online course. It is a wonderful resource and not just for oil painters. I am only half way through the course but I look forward to my evening video class with Scott. Investing in instruction does two things....I am learning but I am also motivated to show up because it was not inexpensive :)
  • I am trying to paint a small oil study every day. My goal is every day but I will be satisfied with at least three painting days per week. I am finding that if I start a painting in the morning I can come back to it before dinner when I am caught up with other tasks. 
  • I plan to use this blog once again as an accountability partner. I would like to post more often and share my oil journey with you. I will also share my pastel life and keep you posted on what I am doing!

In upcoming posts I will share my approach to oils as a pastel painter. I can't help but bring this experience to my oil attempts. Below is a photo of the underpainting for the Queen Anne's Lace 8x6 oil. It is thin oil paint. I might do the exact same type of underpainting for a pastel. I am also working with a limited palette which I will share soon. 

 Thank you for being here and for joining me on my journey as I continue to Paint my World!

Wednesday, January 05, 2022

My Top Paintings from 2021

 Today as I sit at my newly cleaned desk and drink my coffee I am feeling reflective.  
Looking back at my Art Year always makes me think about my own personal journey with pastels. When I saw my Instagram Top Nine something became crystal clear. The seeds for my growth as an artist were planted when I first started painting 16 years ago. I didn't  see it then but others did. 

Look at the paintings in the photo above. These paintings got the most interaction on my Instagram account. Do you notice something about them ?  They are Flowers and Meadows. These are things I never dreamed I would paint. When I first started painting, my subject of choice were animals and beach related still life. Never trees or landscapes! But I had the chance to attend a 5 day workshop with Albert Handell because he was in the area (even though I had only been painting for 6 months.) Much of the instruction was over my head. But I learned two very important things. 
  • We can only absorb and understand what we are ready for. I wanted it all right away. I wanted to paint like Albert or even some of the other students. I wanted to understand everything. But I wasn't ready. I needed to understand the basics of value, color, edges, composition...and I needed much practice before some of the more advanced concepts within those basics became clear. Fortunately I wasn't defeated. Instead I was motivated and energized to put in the time at the easel to master the basics. I am still learning but I am happy to say that it definitely got easier and those AHA moments were so sweet when they came.

  • Paint the Things You Love. When I first started painting, I painted animals and still life. I love animals but I didn't really like painting them! Back to the Handell the end of the workshop we had an individual critique. We could share work done at home and at the workshop which was plain air in North Georgia (trees)  Albert looked at my work and very bluntly told me I should stop painting 'Ducks and shells'. He pointed to my plein air woodland paintings from the workshop and told me to concentrate on this type of subject.....trees, woods, nature.  I left the workshop indignant. How dare he tell me what to paint!  But I noticed that  as the time went on I was drawn more and more to the landscape. I enjoyed painting them and my work got better. I had another AHA moment about subject matter at a workshop years later with Stan Sperlak. That is when I embraced painting 'weeds'.  Looking back I realize that both Albert and Stan were right and they saw things in my work that I didn't passion for the landscape which translated into stronger paintings. Our choice of subjects matter!Paint what you are passionate about so that you own authentic voice can emerge!

I am looking forward to an exciting new year filled with creative pursuits and sharing. Look for this blog to follow my new journey with oil painting. I am feeling a bit like I did in my early days of pastel and this blog is what helped me stay the course! 

Tuesday, January 04, 2022

How About Starting the New Year with a 20 Minute Painting?

    'In a Violet Mood'             8x10           pastel        ©Karen Margulis            available on Etsy 

It’s time to ease into 2022 with a simple pastel painting. It is fun to let go and just respond to a simple scene with your pastels without overthinking and overworking. In this video I set a timer for 20 minutes and work with a preselected tray of pastels leftover from another painting.  

Click on the link below to watch the video on my YouTube channel


Enjoy the demo and join me in my Patreon group for much more! SUPPLY LIST 1. Uart sanded paper 8x10 toned with thinned liquid acrylic 2. Nupastels 3. Terry Ludwig Pastels with a few Diane Townsend soft form pastels. 4. Blair very low odor workable fixative

Tuesday, December 07, 2021

How to Paint Lights that Actually Glow! New Youtube Demo

         'Zoo Lights'                     8x10              pastel             ©Karen Margulis      available on Etsy  $265

There is something magical about lights in a nocturne painting. The warm colors of the lights against the cool blues of the sky are captivating. But how can we paint lights that look like they are actually glowing. In this demo I will paint a nocturne with some holiday lights and I will share tips for helping the lights to look like they are turned on. We will turn on the lights in just a few simple steps! Enjoy the demo and join me in my Patreon group for an expanded lesson! SUPPLY LIST 1. LuxArchival sanded paper 8x10 2. Liquitex Clear Gesso tinted with Daler Rowney acrylic inks 3. Terry Ludwig Pastels with a few Diane Townsend soft form pastels. 4. Bamboo skewer for creating texture 5. Blair Very Low Odor workable fixative

Click on the link below to watch the video!


Here are a few of the pastels I used for the demo. I began with duller more neutral reds and oranges and finished with much more intense color!

Join us on Patreon for more painting instruction!

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Last Sale Days with New Paintings Added!


It is a common complaint. Finding something to paint is a stumbling block for many. Before I give my two cents on this topic I will share a wonderful quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson.
"Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not."
 This quote strikes a chord with me as I am always reminding myself and my students that beauty is everywhere. We should be able to find something that touches us and inspires us wherever we look. We have to approach our search for inspiration with the mindset that there is beauty in everything. We only need to be open to really SEE it. It isn't enough to just look around us. We need to feel the beauty and be sensitive to it. This is something I am thankful for.

I don't use beautiful and perfect reference photos for my paintings. I use small and dark photos. (bad photos) This allows me to pull out the beauty that I see inside of my mind and put it into the painting. I have discovered that  bad photos lead to my best paintings. My favorite places to paint are not the most spectacular. They possess a quiet and simple beauty that speaks to me because I am open to them.

Thanksgiving is a time of reflection  I make a list of the things I am thankful for. One of them is the gift of a sensitive eye. I try to see beauty in the ordinary and share it with others. What are you thankful for as an artist? 

I'd love to share my vision with you through my paintings! Select paintings are available at 50% discount in my Etsy shop. You can see them all here:

Monday, November 22, 2021

Try a Very Unusual Background for your Next Painting

I wanted to give the illusion of a bank of oyster shells behind my snowy egret painting. I could have just painted them in but I had an idea that I needed to try! How could I get more texture in my background? I put on my 'what if' hat and came up with an idea. What if I tore pastel paper and added small pieces to the background to create a rough textured surface?  What if I used clear gesso as the glue to hold it all together and to provide a sanded surface for the pastel application? Would it work?

Yes it worked even better than I imagined! I tore gray Shizen paper which is a soft handmade paper....perfect for this technique. I worked in small areas at a time spreading some clear gesso on a Pastelbord. I added the paper pieces and painted over them with more clear gesso. The clear gesso goes on milky but dries clear. It allowed me to see the gray paper but still have some tooth for pastel. 

You can see in the photo how the added pastel over the bumpy background enhances the effect. I covered the surface completely with pastel so the painting is considered a pastel painting and not a mixed media collage. I will be thinking of ways to try this again!

Friday, November 19, 2021

Does Color Really Get the Glory? New YouTube Video!


Color is everything. Or is it?  Most of us are drawn to pastels because of the wonderful array of colors. They are all there in front of us. We don't have to mix them to see the possibilities. We want them all and we never have enough.  But color can also be our downfall.  You've heard it before:

Color gets the Glory but Value does the work.

If we don't get the values correct then all the colors in your box will not make the painting better. In fact the more colors we add to try to fix the painting the more we risk making mud.  Value studies are good. Value block- ins are helpful. Lots of practice seeing value is important. I have a great exercise to try. Why not try limiting your palette?

I love painting with ONE COLOR....a Monochromatic color scheme.  I pick a color and allow myself to use a full value range of that color. I give myself permission to use both warm and cool versions of my color. This gives me quite a few choices. 

In this video I chose purple for my color. I wanted to paint a subject that isn't usually all purple. Didi it work?  Click on the link video to watch!


Tuesday, November 02, 2021

Give the Gift of Original Art...50% Saving Starts Today!

It is a month of giving thanks! I am grateful for my life as an artist. It is truly a joy to paint everyday and share my work with others. I couldn't do it without your support. I am thankful for all of you who take time to read my posts, watch my videos and study with me on Patreon and in person! I also appreciate those who choose to add one of my paintings to their homes.Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

 This month I am offering a 50% savings on selected original pastel paintings. Many of them are the demos I painted this year! Many are my daily paintings and a few are the special paintings I have held back for exhibitions. They are all in need of good homes. I painted them all with joy and I hope that they can give joy to others. 

You can see all of the available paintings at this link in my Etsy shop. The 50% savings has already been applied. 

  • Actually I have two fun additions to the event.  You can add this 10x8 painting to your collection. Everyone who purchases a painting during the month of November will be entered. The winner will be selected at the end of the month. Be sure to read the story of this painting. It really deserves a good home!

  • Bonus paintings! I will include a mystery small original painting in the first 20 orders! (sold out)

    Here are a few of the paintings that are offered in this year's Thank You Event: