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Thursday, November 07, 2013

Painting Grass....How Much is Too Much?

'Pawley's Pleasure'             12x18           pastel           ©Karen Margulis
 Water and Grass....two things that can be a landscape challenge. In my classes this week we have been working on water. Specifically water that winds through a marsh. You know...those creeks that run through the marshes, some deep and some shallow but all interesting and challenging!  But I realized that we can't do a good job with the water without dealing with the surrounding grasses!

How much grass should we paint? How many blades of grass are enough?  My answer is that we don't need as many blades as we usually put it.  I remind myself to SIMPLIFY and STOP OFTEN.

reference photo
Here is my reference photo for today's painting. There is a lot of marsh grass here!  It is so easy to get caught up in the fun of painting the individual blades of grass. Before we know it we have overdone the grasses and we have a busy painting. Unless your goal is to have a very detailed photo realistic painting it isn't necessary to put in all of the grass blades you see in the photo.  I have a few thoughts that I keep in mind when it comes to grasses:
  • I use big chunks of grass color rather than a lot of linear marks. I begin layering my darkest base grass color and gradually getting lighter/brighter.
  • I then decide where it would be good to put in a few blades of grass. These are my 'hints'. My goal is for the viewer to see these hints and fill in the rest of the area with grass. 
  • I use the edge or tip of my pastel to make painterly grasses. I never use a pastel pencil. I want my grasses to be lyrical.
  • I only make a few blades then STOP, step away and evaluate. When I don't make myself stop I find that is when I get carried away and paint too many blades. Remember...make a few blades, Stop and see where more are needed.

close up detail of the grasses
 Another issue that often arises when painting water and marsh grass is what to do with the foreground. If we put in a foreground full of grass it might create a fence or visual barrier. Look at how I treated my foreground in today's painting.  Tomorrow I will share my favorite tip for foregrounds.

1 comment:

Teri said...

Karen, this is a great post and a really nice painting. I have been a fan for several years (I have your teeny pastel - aceo or mini - of pears!) and you have really really improved your painting and I love the way you are so down-to-earth in your blog posts.
Would love to come to Atlanta some day. Alaska to Atlanta sounds good! (specially is 34°!)