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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Pastel Demo....Colorado Landscape with Wildflowers

'Into Yankee Boy Basin'        8x10      pastel       ©Karen Margulis
painting available for $95 at Daily Paintworks
After three weeks of traveling I have enjoyed getting back to the easel today.  I decided to do a pastel painting of Colorado's Yankee Boy Basin. I visited this beautiful spot at the height of wildflower season and was in heaven!  I took photos of my process and would like to share them as a demo.

 I am working on Uart paper size 8x10. I chose Uart because I wanted to do an alcohol wash and this paper handles a wash beautifully.  I did a rough sketch of my main shapes with a nupastel. I don't like a fussy drawing because then I am tempted to stay in the lines and be less painterly.

I covered the paper with broad strokes of hard pastels. I used some Nupastels for this step. I used a combination of local colors and complements for the underpainting. I started with the dark shapes first. I chose the pinks and oranges because I knew I would be using a lot of green in the painting. This will make the green masses more interesting.

I used rubbing alcohol and a cheap bristle brush to paint over the pastel, liquifying it. I try to be careful to not let it be too sloppy and drippy or else all of the colors will run together to make mud. it dries in about 20 minutes or less.

Now I am using my softer pastels and I begin by blocking in all of the dark shapes. I try to connect the darks where I can so I won't have a painting that is too spotty.  Next I block in the sky with several blue pastels.

I finish the sky and add some lights to the clouds. I also add some pastel to the mountain. I liked the colors of the mountain in the underpainting so I use a very light touch and use colors close to the ones in the underpainting.

At this point I got into my zone and forgot to take pictures!  What I did was build up the greens in the trees and the grasses. I used a lighter cooler green in the distant grasses and warmer greens in the foreground. There was a lot of bushes and stuff in my reference photo so I tried to simplify it into some green shapes.  I also worked on the path by adding some dark peach and blue shadows and the light peach of the dirt.

I am almost done here. I added hints of the wildflowers with a focus on the red Indian Paintbrush. These are just marks and not detailed flowers.  I decided that I needed to carry the eye down the path and into the distance better. So I added some bright green accents in the bushes and carried the red flowers into the distance but I used a cooler red and I made them smaller. See the top photo for the finish!

Thanks for following along and I hope my thoughts as I painted are helpful!  I have an idea for this same scene so plan to come back later this week to see what I am up to!


Anonymous said...

This is lovely. I really like how you posted this demo with individual pictures. I find it easier to follow and see what you did to build the painting. Thanks for being kind and sharing your process.

Karen said...

Thanks Arlene! I appreciate your comments about the demo format. Glad you like t!

Catherine said...

Yes me too Karen. Showing us your process is also much appreciated by me and so helpful. Also the pic turned out so beautifully - oh, one day! :)

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed the post. Very helpful.
Jo petersen

Vanessa said...

I always get excited when I see the word "Demo" in your blog titles! Thanks for leading us through your piece. I see that you put down your vibrant hues early and then slowly mute them as necessary. Do you think that is something you always do?

Karen said...

Thanks Vanessa! I would say that I often start bolder and richer/darker than I want to end up. I find it is easier to get the bold colors in there in the beginning than to try to sneak them in at the end. And I have a choice as to how much I want to down play them!

Anonymous said...

Just found your web site and I'm loving it. I am new to pastels and want to learn everything I can. Sometime would you explain about the alcohol wash? Also do you pre color your paper or always start out with white. Anxious to see and learn more. Thanks for sharing your talents.