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Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Best Reason for Painting Small

'Morning Glory'          2.5 x 3.5"     pastel        ©Karen Margulis
The Paper Swap was a success.  And the resulting paintings were wonderful.  Painting tiny pastel paintings will have to become an annual tradition in my Fall classes.  We traded small paper samples in the Artist Trading Card size of 2.5 x 3.5 inches and then we painted as many as we could. It was fun to try different papers but I think the most important thing we learned was this:

Big pastels can make small marks!

There are many good reasons to try painting in this small format....composition and color studies, simplification, warm up exercises, trying new subjects, relaxation, pure fun.  But I discovered that the best reason to work small every once in awhile is to work on control of the pastel....fine motor control...or how to get big fat pieces of pastel make small marks.

Working small with pieces of soft pastel and avoiding pastel pencils will help you discover how many ways you can manipulate the pastel to get different kinds of marks.  I remind myself to think about sticking with big simple shapes until the finishing touches. Here is a mini demo of a 2.5 x 3.5 painting.

reference photo and drawing

I used a limited palette of Terry Ludwig pastels...the is the Marsha Savage Southeast set

I begin with a line drawing of the big shapes. I am using Pastelmat.  I then block in the dark shapes.

I layer some greens of a similar dark value in the dark shapes on top of the purple layer.

Next I block in the light shape which is the sky. I used three colors in the sky. So far I am using the side of the pastel for all of this block -in. I manipulate it so that a small part of the side is laying down pastel.

Next I put in the mountain shape with blue pastel. I use the tip of the pastel to put in the air holes.

Now I work on the foreground by adding some purple and green shapes. Still no detail!

I continue layering color in the foreground. I put down a dark peach in the sunlit area and keep the purples and cool greens in the shadows.  I also add some warmer orange and peach to the trees. Still no leaves or trunks or grasses.

The finishing touches are some lighter peach in the sunny spots and some lighter greens in the foreground bushes.  I do add a few indications of trunks with my compressed charcoal. I add some skyholes in the trees and I am done.  I haven't added mush detail leaving a lot to the imagination.


Vanessa said...

Such a lovely painting Karen. And a great way to use a lot of the scrap paper that is often left over. I' have a shoebox full of scrap pieces that I'd love to use and not waste… Do you find that working small actually forces you to be looser and not as "detail" orientated?

Karen said...

Thanks Vanessa! It is funny how painting small allows me to be looser. I think the key is to use regular size pastels and not think you need to use pastel pencils!