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Friday, May 27, 2016

Behind the Scenes: Painting the Poppies of Normandy

'We Keep the Faith'             8x12          pastel         ©Karen Margulis

It is Memorial Day weekend.  I will be painting poppies. I am going to dedicate my paintings to the brave men and women  who gave their lives for our freedom. What better inspiration for my Memorial Day series than my photos from last summer's trip to Normandy.  Today's post takes you behind the scenes as I share my inspiration and process for the first poppy painting.

My reference photos from France

I printed several photos from my trip. I like to use small 2x4 inch photos. I chose to combine two photos for the painting. We were staying near the English Channel surrounded by barley fields. There were many places where red poppies made an appearance. For my painting I wanted to show the view of the water and expand the fields of poppies. 

I toned my 8x12 piece of Uart with a mixture of beige acrylic paint mixed with clear gesso. I wanted a warm beige underpainting and the texture of the gesso. I hoped that the gesso would give me texture for the grasses. The paint was Toning Grey Yellowish by Interactive Acrylics. Isn't that a great color name?

I began to lay in the pastel starting with the dark areas. As you can see my darkest values are more of a middle dark. I wanted to keep the painting slightly higher key than usual to capture the feeling of summer.  You can also see that the little bit of clear gesso that I used really did give me a more textured surface.

Next I worked on the sky. I wanted to set the mood and light quality  of the scene. I would later go back and tone down the violets and add more reds up in the cloud shadows.  Next it was time to put in the greens. I already had good dirt color with the mauves and violets.

I layered some greens in the fields and trees. I used darker greens in the immediate foreground to throw it into shadow. At this point I have a big empty field and it was time to add the poppies!  This was the fun part. The poppies are my spices. They needed to be planted so that they would lead the viewer's eye into the painting.  The photos I used gave me inspiration and visual references but ultimately it was my job to design a painting that worked to draw the viewer in and allowed them to participate.

I had to use my 'spare' orange pastels for my poppies

1 comment:

BJR said...

This painting stopped me! The title, together with the painting is a very thought provoking, emotional piece. It's a beautiful painting (as one would expect from you!)...yet this has an emotion to it that pulls at my heartstrings. Well done, my friend.