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Thursday, January 19, 2017

A Tip for Creating Depth in a Pastel Painting

'Marsh Music'         8x10         pastel          ©Karen Margulis
available $125
It still amazes me. The idea that we can take a flat piece of paper and create the illusion of a three dimensional reality. Imagine that! All we have are paper and a few sticks of pigment and yet if done properly we can create a painting that has depth. Creating depth is always one of my top goals for a landscape painting. There are some things we can do to help create this illusion of depth. Understanding aerial or atmospheric perspective it the key.

As objects recede into space the atmosphere causes their appearance to change.....things tend to get lighter, color, less intense, less detailed and there is less contrast.

In today's painting I tried to cover a few of these ideas with my focus on the level of detail I used.

The addition of clear gesso to provide more texture. It will dry clear.

In the foreground we can have as much detail as we want. It is in front of us so we can see all of the detail. As we go into the distance the level of detail decreases. Things get fuzzier! In my painting I purposely painted the distant trees as simple cool shapes. There are no details in those trees even though I saw details in my reference photo.

To emphasize the depth I wanted to have more clarity and detail in the foreground. It was a tangle of grasses and brambles at the edge of the creek. I wanted to capture this tangled feeling with some texture. I used my usual technique for creating texture in grass with some workable fixative. It just wasn't enough! I had an idea! A 'what if' moment!
  •  I took out some clear gesso which has a slight grit and brushed it allover the foreground. I used random brushstrokes to convey the tangle of grasses. Once the gesso was dry I repainted the foreground. The pastel glided over the grooves leaving a nice 'grassy' texture. Click on the painting to see the detail.


Unknown said...

My favorite part of this article : "There are no details in those trees even though I saw details in my reference photo"

This is the hardest part for me, I keep wanting to paint all the detail everywhere. Shapes, I need to start seeing shapes. Good article, thanks!

Unknown said...

Thanks, Karen. I used clear gesso in a Richard McKinley workshop, and I liked the way I could add some texture to my painting. I do have a question for you, though. Did you have to brush out the pastel at the bottom of your painting before you added the clear gesso?

Karen said...

Thanks for the comments!
Virginia I didn't brush any of the pastel off. I like to have it mix with the gesso and make even more texture!!

robertsloan2art said...

Oh wow. Once again you're daring. I don't think I'd have thought of putting gesso on a previously finished passage and then working right over that, it's awesome as an effect! Way cool. Makes sense to let it mix in with the gesso, give it more lumps and some color.