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Tuesday, July 27, 2021

From Plein Air to Studio: An Important Tip

     'A River Runs Through It'              9x12          pastel on board           ©Karen Margulis.      $275

There is something special about plein air studies. Even if they aren't perfect frame worthy- paintings, they are an authentic response to a  place and time. The colors and values in a plein air study are a reflection of what we experience in real life. These studies often have a freshness that can be difficult to duplicate in a studio painting. But when we use a plein air painting as inspiration for a studio piece it can often be a frustrating experience. 

I have a suggestion for a more successful studio painting.  Don't try to copy your plein air painting. Don't make it a goal to recreate the same exact painting. Instead use it for inspiration. Choose something you like about the study and expand on that idea. Then choose a completely different technique/paper/underpainting for your studio painting. 

I selected one of my favorite plein air studies from my June trip for a studio painting. I was tempted to select the same paper and even take out the same set of pastels I used for the study. But then I realized I was trying to copy the study rather than interpret it in a new way!  I changed direction and took out a 9x12 white Pastelbord. I did a bright and colorful watercolor underpainting. It gave me something different yet interesting to respond to. The finished studio painting was inspired by the study yet had a different feel. Choosing a different technique and surface made all the difference!

Here are some photos of the 5x7 plein air study and a photo of the location. Below is the finished watercolor underpainting. The study is on Wallis Belgian mist paper (leftover stash) and the underpainting is on white Pastelbord with Pelikan watercolors. 


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