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Friday, January 25, 2013

Great Egret Painting Step by Step Demo

'Visitors in the Marsh'           12x14           pastel          ©Karen Margulis
What a fun day in the studio!  I packed up my supplies for a demo tomorrow at the Red Cockerill Gallery in Austell.  I prepared for next week's class on dusting.  I prepped a board for a southwest painting I have on my mind. And I finished this commission of a Great White Egret.  I'd like to share some photos and thoughts on the painting as it developed.  
There is a surprise marsh visitor hiding in the marsh. Can you spot him?

 Step One:  I am working from a plain air painting of an egret that I did while on Pawleys Island last Fall. I am using a piece of Uart paper.  I drew the egret with a pastel pencil then started to block in the dark grasses.  But them I remembered that I wanted to tone the background with shades of orange Nupastels. I rubbed this layer in with a piece of pipe insulation foam.

My pastel palette for this painting. I choose the colors before I start painting.

Now I block in the dark grass shape. I use three dark greens, Diane Townsend and Terry Ludwigs. I start adding some lighter greens. My goal is to make the grasses look out of focus so I paint them as big shapes rather than blades of grass. I chose to put in this dark background first so that I can paint the egret's feathers on top, integrating him into the landscape.  This way he won't look pasted onto the background. See my hidden visitor?

Now I paint the eye and beak.  I want to get his face and expression correct before I spend time on his body. Now he is looking at me as I paint him! I use a dark Nupastel for the eye and the sharp edge of a Mt Vision pastel for the beak.

Next step is to paint the egret's body.  I begin with some cooler blues, purples and greens in the shadowed areas of the body. I also add some peaches and yellows since these colors will be reflected on the white feathers from the grasses.  I don't use any pure white even though it is a Great White Egret!

Continuing with the egret, I put down a few light layers of cooler lights in the sunlit feathers. I am using a pale blue and lavender. I also scumble these colors over the shadowed area.  The cooler whites will be a good contrast for the warmer lights yet to come.
I also work on the bottom dried grasses.  I start with several light layers of oranges, golds and warm greens, I am making loose, wide strokes in these layers. I put in a pop of blue and purple in the grass. I just felt like it needed it!   Then I worked on the legs putting down a darker and lighter purple and blue.

For the finish, I use my lightest warmest white which is actually a pale pale yellow Diane Townsend. I use this to paint the lightest area of the egret and to pull out the longer feathers on the front edge.  The finishing touches are in the grasses. I use a bright yellow orange to put down a few bold marks and thinner grass strokes. That was fun!

I love doing commissions so if you have an idea that needs to be painted let's discuss it!

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Unknown said...

Great lesson, Karen! I've gotten so many good comments on the poppies I did in your class last week. Today I'm going to work on a series of Shasta daisies and this lesson will guide me through it. See you in class.

Karen said...

Thank you Twinkle!! Have fun with the daisies. I love painting them and here is a tip....start with the cool blues and purples in the whites before going lighter just like in the bird!

Anonymous said...

Your Great Egret is beautiful, thanks for taking the time to step it out for us.