Category Archives: Landscapes
|‘Marsh Walk’ 6×6 pastel ©Karen Margulis sold|
It’s the number one question I am asked. ”How can I loosen up?” or ” I am too tight, get too detailed and then end up overworking the painting. What can I do to keep my paintings fresh and loose?”
So I have given the question much thought and read what others have to say about it. (Jackie Simmonds has an excellent blog post about painting loose here) I have come up with five things we can do to help us achieve looseness. I will be sharing them in my classes and workshops but I thought it would be fun to give my blog readers a peek into my weekly pastel class and see how we will apply these 5 things.
First I would rather use the word ‘expressive’ rather than use the term loose. I think expressive is a better way to describe what I try to do and that is express my feelings about the subject, suggesting a lot of the detail and interpreting my subject rather than copying it. Loose can be interpreted as being sloppy, all soft and painted fast which isn’t always the case.
Here is what we are doing in class this week. Feel free to follow along and comment below on your experiences!
|My demos of 7 minute paintings|
We began class with a discussion about the importance of study and painting practice. We talked about Robert Genn’s term for artists who are blocked or frustrated with their work because they have a lot of knowledge about painting but not enough time at the easel for this knowledge to become intuitive. It is called ‘Educosis’ Read more about it here. Don’t you love it?
How can we make time to paint more often in our busy lives? One way is to do smaller timed paintings. We started class by doing 10 minute paintings. We then did a 7 minute painting. We did 3 of them. It is amazing what everyone did with just 7 minutes to paint. There is no chance to get bogged down with copying details in this short time. The paintings were fresh and spontaneous.
It was also an excellent way for us to warm of after a class-free summer! I am encouraging my students to fit in more of these timed paintings in between classes. (more on my incentive plan in a later post)
|students painting fast and furiously!|
|‘Taking the Back Roads’ 11×14 pastel ©Karen Margulis
purchase this painting here $165
”Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind.” Seneca
I am in trip planning mode. In another life I must have been a travel agent. I love planning trips as much as taking them. Usually I start planning my next trip on my way home from the current trip. I have always loved to travel. When our kids were younger we would take three weeks each summer to explore the National Parks. That was wonderful.
But now that I paint Travel takes on a new dimension. I am not just a tourist seeing the ‘must see’ sights. I see every place with fresh eyes. Even the ordinary sights become extraordinary when discovered on a trip. Traveling makes you more aware of your surroundings. All of your senses become more acute. You notice more. Even if you choose not to paint on a trip you are absorbing it all. It enriches you. Let me give you an example: Today’s painting is from a photo I took on a road trip to Wyoming. We took the backroad one morning and came across this pasture.
|reference photo…somewhere in Kansas|
We pulled over to take photos. It was peaceful and the morning light was so soft and beautiful. If we were at home we might have zipped pass this place, too busy with life to notice. But on a trip we were relaxed and in tune. Our cameras ever ready for the next best shot. We noticed the ordinary.
And even now, three years later I can look at the photo and recall how I felt at our discovery. The sights, sounds and smells. Those heightened senses stayed with me.
Yes I can certainly be more aware of my surroundings at home but there is something about travel that sends a signal to my brain that it is time to wake up and soak it all in.
What’s in the works for the coming year? NJ, Pawleys Island, Caribbean cruise, and in 2014 possibly Nantucket, Monhegan Island and a Fall trip somewhere to see Aspens. And of course several trips to Chicago to see my kids!
What’s your next trip?
Today’s painting: Uart 600 paper with an alcohol wash with Terry Ludwig pastels, the Marsh Savage Southeast Landscape set.
Sometimes I am compelled to paint something that I didn’t plan. Circumstances intervene and inspiration strikes. I had intended to paint another cat today with a more involved background but as I listened to the radio with the storm reports from Sandy I went in another direction.
We didn’t experience the storm here in Georgia although it has been very windy and cold here the last couple of days. It is the wind and the storm that inspired today’s painting. I wanted to paint something that captures the feeling of a windy day….the clearing of a storm with promise of a new day.
It was with a sense of urgency that I searched for that last piece of black sandpaper that I had been saving. I knew the black smooth surface would work for the mood I wanted to create. This painting is from my imagination and is more an emotional response to the weather rather than a depiction of an actual place.
I’ll get to the cat painting but sometimes there is a painting in you that you just have to get out. It may not even turn out well but it is the process of creating that is important. Don’t ignore that voice in your head that tells you what to paint. It is this voice that helps you put your emotions into a painting. It is no longer just a painting exercise. You are painting from your heart.
I love texture! A great way to introduce texture to a pastel painting is to use a textured surface. Most commercial pastel papers have a smooth and even surface. Even the roughest sanded paper tends to have an even surface. That is why I love using my own prepared surfaces. I can make them as rough and irregular as I want. I don’t use my own surfaces that often because I don’t take the time to make them. It isn’t hard to do so I really need to make them more often. I love painting on them! If you would like to see photos of the development of this painting visit my Daily Painting blog here.
I have seen the light! Never has the benefits of painting outdoors been so clear to me. There are so many lessons I learned at the 1st Annual Plein Air Convention. It was inspiring, informative, motivating and just fun to be around so many people with the same passion for painting that I have. I will be sharing some of the wonderful things I learned over the next week but I would like to begin with the most important lesson. Painting en plein air really does help you see better.
The term “plein air” (derived from the French, “open air”) is used to describe painting that is done outdoors, directly from nature. Plein air painters seek to capture the varied, shifting effects of light and atmosphere on the landscape.
I have always enjoyed painting outdoors but I just didn’t make enough time to go out. I figured my photos would be good enough. But I know now that if I really want to become a better painter, I need to paint outdoors more often. If you would like to see more plein air paintings from my trip to the 1st Annual Plein Air Convention visit my daily painting blog here.
The landscape of the Southwest is calling to me! I am so glad that I decided to attend the 1st Annual Plein Air Convention in Las Vegas. Next week I will have an opportunity to paint in Red Rock Canyon and I can’t wait. Not to mention all of the wonderful artists who will be there…both the instructors and the attendees.
I am working this week on desert landscapes so I can test my pastel box of colors that I plan to bring. Yesterday I did a painting that depicts the red rocks with intense late afternoon light. I was going for the glow on the rocks. You can see the painting HERE. For today’s painting I wanted to capture the more subtle colors of the desert. I did need to add a couple of new colors to my box so I am glad I am testing this week!
If you would like to see a step by step demo of this painting, visit my daily painting blog HERE
“Pretend you are dancing or singing a picture. A worker or painter should enjoy his work,else the observer will not enjoy it. It is not good to wear lace that was a drudgery to someone to make. The lace, as well as the picture, should be made in joy.” Robert Henri
Robert Henri’s The Art Spirit is a book that every artist and art lover should have this book on the shelf. It is a book filled with the wisdom and advice of Henri who was a revered teacher and artist. The book is a collection of his teachings, notes and critiques. Read more about Robert Henri here http://roberthenrimuseum.org/
Not only does the book give Henri’s technical advice to painters, it is full of inspiring words of wisdom about life and art. It is the kind of book that can be picked up and opened to any page. Every page has a pearl of wisdom and gives food for thought. It is a book that can be read over and over. I keep my copy on my night stand and pick it up whenever I need a bit of inspiration. The quote about singing a picture is typical of the little gems on every page of the book.
Every Spring I am faced with the same challenge…. How to capture the beauty of the Spring landscape successfully in my paintings. On my daily painting blog I discussed the challenges we have in trying to paint the Spring landscape. Read more here. Today I’d like to share some things that have helped me meet the challenge.
- Do some advance planning. Do thumbnails to help you SIMPLIFY the busy Spring landscape.
- Decide on a FOCAL AREA and develop it while leaving other areas with less detail. This is especially important when trying to paint flowering trees and shrubs….simplify the background by using colors in the same value so that they are soft and out of focus.
- Try to focus in on one area of the landscape rather than trying to fit in all of the excitement into one painting. Plan on doing several paintings instead.
- Try to zero in on one bush, flower or branch for a more intimate view of Spring.
Are you new to pastels or looking for a way to simplify your work? Why not try this simple method for starting a pastel painting. There are so many choices and options available to pastel artists these days…new papers and pastels open up great possibilities. It can be overwhelming. What paper to use? Underpaint or not? Sometimes it just feels good to go back to basics. When I first started painting with pastels I was taught a very simple method for starting a pastel painting. If you’d like to read more about it and see my step by step demo please visit my daily painting blog here.
Are you a Squinter? I am a ‘sometimes squinter’. I try to remember to squint when I am painting but it is not as much of a habit as I know it should be. I do know that when I remember to squint I end up with a more successful painting. Why? Because squinting helps me simplify. And squinting is a free tool that goes everywhere with me! I can plan a painting based on strong simple shapes and value patterns because squinting helps me to remove the clutter of details. For this painting, I squinted as I did my initial block in. If you would like to see my process, please visit my daily painting blog Painting my World.