Visit my Patreon Page for more painting instruction and Paint Along Videos!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Pastel Demo: Nantucket Island Meadow on Canson

'Watching Life Unfold'           18x24         pastel          ©Karen Margulis
Sometimes you have to heed the call. I am in the middle of my acrylic panel project but I happened upon one of my Nantucket photos and it just called out to be painted. I have until Friday to finish the panels so a little detour to Nantucket wouldn't hurt.

I decided to take progress photos of the painting so I hope you will enjoy this mini demo. I used a piece of Moonstone color Canson Mi-teintes paper which I find to be good for quick paintings....except for some reason I wanted to go large! I cut the paper to 18x24 and taped it to my board.

I did a quick drawing with a pencil indicating the major shapes and flow of the painting. I like to visualize how the viewer's eye will travel through the painting.

I blocked in the big shapes with some Nupastels. I chose these colors based on value and a start to some of the intense colors that I want to peek though my pastel layers.

I rub in this first layer with a piece of pipe insulation foam. A reader recently wrote and asked me what this is made of and I don't really know. I threw out the bag and haven't had a chance to research it. I know that it works without shredding!

Next I block in the dark shapes with softer pastels. I spray them with workable fixative so I can get a feeling of texture in the foliage. I add some mauves and pinks in the meadow. Next I begin the sky.

I didn't intend to have a pink sky. I thought it would be a pale sky....maybe pale blue or even pale yellow. But the underpainting color was pink and I really liked it. So I went with the pink and pulled my marks down leading into the meadow.

The next part of the process it to work from back to front painting grasses and trying to create depth with the colors I choose and marks that I make.

Once I got to the foreground I started to add more detail and clarity to the foliage. I don't put detail at the edges or bottom of the painting. This area is out of focus so we can move into the important parts of the painting.

The last step is to add the final details....the icing on the cake which are the beach roses. I save them for last so that I can place them where they will lead the viewer into the painting.

That was fun! Now that I got that out of my system I can return to my panels!


Anonymous said...

What a welcome little side trip for all of us! I love the colors you chose for this, and that pink sky is perfect!

Anonymous said...

I'am so glad that I found you on the internet. Your blog is so helpfull and such a delight to follow. Wonderfull paintings. For now I do a lot of coping you (is that allowed?) and in between I try to make my own.I just started painting. Thank you for your open comment on how you're working. From the Netherlands, thanks and a good day for you,continuing your acrylics I guess.

Sandi Graham Pastels said...

Fun to see your progress from beginning to end. Love it!

tammy said...

I think this is one of my favorites of yours! - thanks so much for showing your process.

Sue Marrazzo Fine Art said...


Teri said...

Really nice painting Karen! Thanks for taking that detour!

Gloria j Zucaro said...

Love the colors and thank you for the process, Karen.

Unknown said...

I love this one... the colors are great! Don't know how you can do this on Canson since it has little tooth. Just beautiful

talstonedj said...

Huge fan Karen. Huge. Love your work and one day, I will own a piece! You make me itch quite madly with a desire to dust my pastels off and get back into painting. I've been in graphic design so long and use my creative juices that way.

Couple of questions:

1. I remember reading in one of your posts (can't find it again) where you mentioned you never "blow" the dust off the 'canvas' you're working on for health reasons. How do you handle the fallout when you're blocking in so that it doesn't muddy up any of your other colors you're laying down?

2. Do you ever block in your painting with any water or thinner? I've seen other artists do so and wondered what you thought was better.

3. For this demo, are you working from a photo?


Karen said...

Thank you all for the comments!!

DJ, I work with my painting upright so dust falls down into my tray. If it is thicker than usual I give the top of the board a whack!
I often use both water and alcohol to liquify pastel for underpaintings. I like both and it depends on what I have handy.
I worked from my photo for this painting but took liberties as usual!

tammy said...

Karen, Is this Canson "Touch" paper, or regular Mi-Tientes? It looks like Touch, but I wasn't sure. Thanks!

Karen said...

Tammy, It is regular canon Moonstone color.

robertsloan2art said...

This is so beautiful. I love how you manage to convey different types of foliage in your wildflowers with such economical marks. The leaves of the beach roses seem very rounded and compact, distinct from most of the wildflower foliage you've done. They look real and natural, make the flowers seem different. You've got an eye and a knack for these things! Practice and loving a subject enough to do it in depth that long does it I guess!

Peggy said...

I love your paintings, but would appreciate seeing the photo you are working from so that I can see how you interpret the natural scene in such a creative way. Thanks.

Karen said...

Thank you Peggy,
Sometimes I do include the photo. I will try to make it a habit. My photos are so small and I can never locate the original in my collection of 40,000 photos! I will try to do a better job.

Dianne Parks said...

Congratulations on those wonderful comments Richard McKinley made regarding your painting! I would imagine that it made your heart sing to hear him so greatly admire your work! What a beautiful piece!