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Sunday, February 22, 2015

More on Oil Stain Underpaintings....Your Questions Answered

'Looking for the Sun'              11x14                pastel                ©Karen Margulis
 Painting is so much fun with some viewer participation. I opened up my latest demo for questions and I got some great ones! I posted the  reference photo and the underpainting finished to my Facebook Page and asked away.  I'd like to share some of the questions and my answers to give you some insight into how I resolved this painting.

My reference photo....somewhere along the Northern California Coast
Question: Will you put the fence post and wire in the painting?
Answer: NO! I don't mind fences and wires and sometimes they are needed to tell the story. But fences are tricky....they can often be a true fence or visual barrier to the painting. Especially if the fence goes right across the whole keeps the viewer from entering. I decide the fence is not necessary for this painting. It is about the flowers....not the fence.
Remember.....we are Artists and not Cameras! We have the power to change the photo to make a better painting. We don't have to put something in just because it is in the photo.

Question: Why did you lower the horizon and show more sky?
Answer:  They sky is not the focal point but it is important to my concept so I needed to show a bit more than the photo. I was drawn to this scene because of the weather...I was intrigued by the overcast with the occasional breaks in the clouds (I remember this because it is my photo) My thought was to show this break of light and how it would showcase the flowers. I needed more sky to show this type of weather condition.

Question: What will you do about the sameness of everything? The flowers, light, etc are all the same. How will you decide what is most important?
Answer: This question goes back to my concept for the painting. Yes the photo shows the light to be flat and everything being much the same. Yes I do need to make some areas more important. I do this by manipulating the lighting. I choose a small area of the flowers and make them brighter and put the rest of the flowers into the shadows (bluer)
Remember we are artists, not cameras.....we need to take the photo and make it better and not be too literal to the scene.

The underpainting is an oil stain underpainting
I chose to do an oil stain underpainting because I wanted rich and vibrant colors to peek through the fairly grayed colors of the final layers of pastel. I addressed some questions about oil stain underpaintings in yesterday's blog post here.

Question: Why did you choose orange and purple for the underpainting?
Answer: I wanted rich and vibrant colors. These underpainting colors are going to be my 'dirt'. I needed some rich darks under the flowers and purple works better than brown or black or gray (boring) I knew the top layers of pastel would be a dull straw color so I thought that a bit of orange peeking through would give it some interest.
I kept the underpainting colors simple so there would be color harmony.

Question: How does the pastel react with the oil paint?
Answer: Just fine! In fact great. The key is to make sure the oil paint is thin enough so there is still some tooth in the paper to accept the pastel. If it is too thick and slick, the pastel won't go over the oil paint very well.
Remember pastel is pure pigment just like oil paint only in stick, dry form. 

starting to add some pastel
I hope this Q & A post is helpful! I will do another one soon so be sure to head over to Facebook and click 'Like' on my KarenMargulisFineArt page.


Unknown said...

You make it look so easy :) Thank you for the generous gift of information.

Karen (A different one) :-p said...

So you have another post with more information on your technique for doing the oil under painting?

I've never done this myself and I'm curious about the paints you use and the process in general. :-)

BJR said...

Love the questions and answers. Great teaching! I've always loved art, (drawing, painting) but no formal your underpaintings sometimes surprise me. (Yet intrigue me.) When they surprise me...I try to figure out why you used them. ;) Thanks for sharing with us!

Karen said...

Thanks for the comments! The link to yesterday's article is in the post. Click on the word 'here'. It is a fun way to do an underpainting!

robertsloan2art said...

Very cool! I like the painting and the questions helped a lot. Love the vibrant underpainting too.

I might have a go at it someday, just not during a bad season. I'd need a lot of time that I'm not fighting weather to treat the underpainting (and its clean up) as one project and the painting as another.