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Friday, March 16, 2018

Making the Most of a Textured Pastel Surface

'Seeking Beauty'        12x16         pastel      ©Karen Margulis
available $175
So you have tried the clear gesso trick. But you may be less than satisfied with your results. Perhaps the texture isn't as obvious as you want or maybe it is making it hard to paint over. I've got some ideas on how you can make the most of the texture from an application of clear gesso.

If you missed the recent post on clear gesso you can find past articles on clear gesso in these links:

To clarify the use of the clear gesso I'd like to add that it can be applied to paper before painting as a preparation or it can be used on top of pastel layers but it will liquify and darken the pastel creating a dark textured underpainting. Don't put it on top of pastel if you don't want to obliterate the painting!

I am starting my annual studio cleanup and came across an older painting that had the clear gesso texture. At the time I thought it was finished but when I looked at it today I realized I didn't make the most of the texture so it went back on the easel. Look at the original below and compare with the reworked painting at the top of the post.

Is it finished? I decided it wasn't.
I realized that the painting needed more layers to exploit the texture. Here is what I did:

  • I started with the sky and added a yellow orange to unite the two spots of bright orange. I also added a pale yellow at the horizon. For these new layers I pressed much harder with the pastel.The pastel was grabbed by the raised areas created by the dried gesso. TIP: After the initial layers are established don't be afraid to PRESS hard to really get some pastel on the grooves.
  •  I added some lighter and cooler blue green and blues to the distant land. I wanted to cover the red violet which was coming forward. I also rubbed in this layer with my pinky finger to eliminate some of the texture. Tip: eliminate some texture where you want to create depth.
  • I used workable fixative on the trees and grasses to darken these areas. Then I went over the areas with more greens and oranges using a harder touch. The dark areas remained in the grooves and the new pastel marks sat on top of the grooves making the texture more visible.
  • I used some harder pastel stick (Nupastels) to draw some linear marks. These marks filled in the areas between the raised textured areas. These marks added to the texture created by the gesso. TIP: Enhance texture with marks from harder pastel sticks.

close up of the texture

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Three Tips for Painting the Green Stuff!

'Green Meadows'        8x10       pastel       ©Karen Margulis

 The Green Stuff is coming!   It can't come soon enough for some of us who have been buried all winter in the white stuff!  So in honor of Spring and St. Patrick's Day (I am half Irish) I thought I would share my top three tips for painting a landscape that has lots of green stuff.

I call anything that grows 'Green Stuff' even if it isn't always green.  Just to keep it simple and to remind myself that the tips don't just apply to painting trees. It includes trees, groups of trees, bushes, scrub and grasses. Landscapes often include many of these elements and I go about painting them in the same way.

click on photo to enlarge

'California Meadows'           8x10        pastel

These are some of the top things I think about when I paint the Green Stuff:

  • The further back you go in the landscape the less strokes you need. This reminds me to utilize the principles of aerial perspective...less detail, contrast, cooler and lighter.
  • Start with a lump of clay and carve your tree or bush using the background color. Add 'clay' to build volume by layering pastel to depict believable light (rather than lots of random leaves)
  • Orange is the Secret of Green and Violet is the Friend....my favorite tip for painting green from Richard McKinley. Make your greens more interesting with this tip.

This is the same scene as the painting at the top of the page
but I have utilized oranges, reds, and violets to make it more interesting.

You can see the step by step demo for this painting on my Patreon page. www.patreon.com/karenmargulis

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Five Tips for Painting Commissions

'Spring Fantasy'       8x10       pastel        ©Karen Margulis

 It seems as though everyone has a commission nightmare story. Hearing them is enough to keep many artists from doing commissions. I have had some close calls but no real nightmares. Many of them could have been prevented. I have learned through experience. I have truly been enriched by each commission painting I have completed.

Along the way I have developed ground rules for doing a commission. The rules have helped make the process rewarding and positive.

Tip #1   Paint what you love and what you love to paint. I have gotten some strange requests. Some things were not in my comfort zone. Some of them I tried but made it clear to the client that I would try but not promise. Now I only accept commissions for a subject that I LOVE to paint. I do my best work when I am enjoying the subject. (and if the commission falls through I have a paining that I actually enjoy)

'Meadow Study #1'         5x7         
TIP #2  Work with clients that give you freedom to use your artist license. My favorite client is someone who tells me they love my work and use my best judgement in interpreting the subject. The freedom to create something without being tied to strict directions makes the commission fun.

'Meadow Study #3'           5x7         
TIP #3  Be clear with your expectations and requirements. I don't use a contract or even require an advance payment. I  have never had any problems. Perhaps I have just been lucky. But I only paint what I like and make sure it won't be so specific that I can't find another home for the painting.  If you have a contract or certain requirements make sure everyone understands them before you begin painting.

'Meadow Study #4'           5x7        
Tip #4 Take the time to do small studies for larger commissions. It is well worth the time and materials to do a small color study to show the client. This way composition and color can be addressed and everyone can agree. It is easier to make corrections and changes in the study phase than on a large painting.

The Queen Annes Lace paintings in today's post are small quick studies I did for a potential commission. The client sent me photos of the space where the painting will go. That gave me a better understanding of what might work. She gave me a rough idea of her wants....the four studies now give her a visual aid to help her decide on the details of the larger painting.

Tip #5  Make sure the client gives you the correct painting size. It happens a lot. Especially for larger paintings. A client will tell me the size they need for the space and ask for a painting that size. They don't remember to take into consideration the final size after framing. I know now to ask them if they have a frame size in mind so we can choose the best actual painting size for the space.

Painting commissions has opened up a new world of painting opportunities. I have worked with wonderful people who truly enjoy my work. I love doing commissions as long as they follow my five tips!

The rejected paintings

Update to this post.  I am sharing this post from the archives because I just had my first commission fail! I didn't follow my own advice. The client asked me for me to reproduce some of my paintings exactly. That was the red flag. I told them that I was an artist not a copy machine and would paint something similar but it couldn't be exact. The results were not up to their expectations. Her loss is my gain but from now on I will trust my instincts and turn down commissions that don't fit my guidelines.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Get Ready for Green!

'Into the Land of Green'         8x10         pastel        ©Karen Margulis
 Green. I used to avoid it.  Dare I say I didn't even like it! Painting with it that is.  But since I live in the Southeast which is the Land of Green I have come to embrace it and maybe even like it.  I still long for the desert and the wonderful colors of the Southwest. But as long as I can visit at least once a year I am happy living and painting in the Land of Green.

 Most of my paintings have been very green this month.  I think it is partly due to being winter weary and ready for spring. Are you ready to paint the greens of spring and summer?  Here are a few quick tips....

More green tips this week on Patreon! See the video demo
of this painting.www.patreon.com/karenmargulis

  • Make sure you have the *right* green pastels. If you plan to paint a lot of green landscapes you will want to have a good selection of greens.....light, middle and dark values. You need some warm and cool greens but you also need some neutral of gray greens.  Many introductory sets don't include enough of the right greens. Many have a majority of middle value in bright artificial looking greens. These greens can be overpowering in a landscape unless balanced with neutrals.
  • Lay out all of your green pastels....give them a good cleaning with a paper towel or by shaking them in cornmeal or sand.....now evaluate them. Make a list of the greens you are lacking and order some open stock of your favorite brands.
  • Remember that you can make your green landscapes more interesting by incorporating the complement in your green masses. Greens are more exciting with some red or orange.  Add some purple for the finishing touch.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

The Power of Mini Goals

'Sumer Perfection'          15x7        ©Karen Margulis
 It was 13 years ago that I first picked up a pastel. I was hooked immediately. I bought some cheap pastels and paper. I found a class. ( a great one with www.marshasavage.com) And I started painting in earnest. My results were not great. In fact I was often frustrated. My visions of what my paintings should look like were not what I was painting! Instead of giving up I doubled down! I began to paint every day. Just a small quick study. I set mini goals for myself.

My first goal was to get a painting into our local pastel society show. I had a year to work at it. I achieved that goal. So I set another mini goal.....get in again! Each year I set the bar a bit higher but not totally out of reach. At least not without dedicated study and practice.  The mini goals gave me something toward towards. A reason to put in the time.

One of my ongoing goals was to have a painting selected for the Pastel Journal's Pastel 100. I have entered for at least the last 6 or 7 years and I am happy to share that this mini goal has been achieved! 

Do you set goals for your art?
They don't have to be lofty goals. They don't even have to be about exhibitions or PSA status or IAPS status.....they can be simple goals. Start a series and the goal might be to complete 5 paintings for the series. Set a mini goal to study a favorite artist or maybe complete a class, or meet up with an art friend. Mini goals will motivate you to get to the easel. And that is the first step to meeting those goals....just do it!

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Would You Like 30 Reference Photos Each Month?

'Drive By Skies II'        9.5x7.5       pastel        ©Karen Margulis

I love taking photos. As I said in yesterday's post I have well over 40 thousand images on my computer. (yes they are backed up!) And I realized that I can't possibly paint all of them in my lifetime. So I've decided to share some selected photos via my Patreon page. I hope you will consider joining this great community of artists. You will receive daily instruction, inspirational and now reference photos! (A huge thank you to the 535 of you who have already joined me) Please read on to discover what I offer you on my page. And of course this daily blog remains the same so no worries! www.patreon.com/karenmargulis

This month's selection for the Silver Level drawing 8x10 original

You asked for it! I am excited to share some new features to my Patreon page. I have listened to your feedback and requests and I have added two new pledge tiers...Silver and Gold. Here are the details:
The original $4 tier is the same. I have renamed it the Bronze Level but all of the benefits remain in place....weekly video demos, step by step photo demos, lessons, weekly challenges, handouts and more!
If you would like additional resources you can now choose to upgrade to the new SILVER level. For a pledge of $6 a month you will have access to the following extra resources:
  • You will gain access to my exclusive Reference Image Library. Each month I will be posting 30 of my personal reference photos. I am making them available to you copyright free! This mean you can use them for anything and the resulting paintings may be exhibited or sold. The images will include a variety of subjects from landscape to figurative to still life. Every month I will issue a fun grab bag of images many of them suitable for the weekly challenges.
  • Access to exclusive Curated Blog Posts. My daily painting blog has over 10 years of information packed articles. Each week I will curate and provide links to blog articles that will add to your understanding of the focus of my current Patreon demos,lessons and challenges.
  • Win an original Painting! You will be entered into a monthly drawing for one of my originals. Each month I will choose another painting for the drawing. The painting at the top of this page is the March selection. A great way to learn is to study an original up close. Here is your chance to win an original! Paintings will range in size form 5x7 to 8x10.
Below is an example of some of my reference photos. You will have access to the image files to download and print or use on your tablet or computer.
And now for the GOLD LEVEL!
I love to give feedback. However I am usually only able to give a few lines of feedback when asked due to time constraints. Usually this is a good thing since we can really only absorb one or two ideas at a time. So giving you some 'food for thought' is what I try to do.
Sometimes though we really want to have someone give us a thorough critique on a painting. We want to hear the good, bad and the ugly! We want to know what we need to do to improve and what we could do to get better. I will now be able to offer this in-depth feedback through the Gold Level.
The Gold Level will be limited to just 5 artists at a time. In addition to all of the rewards from the Silver level you will receive ONE in-depth critique on ONE painting. You will get one critique during each month that you pledge at the Gold level $50 per month. You can try the Gold level and return to a lower tier when you wish.
Note about the critique: When you pledge I will send you a questionnaire asking you about the painting you wish to have critiqued. The more information you give me the better! You then email the completed questions with a photo (s) of your painting. I will respond to you via email within 10 days with my feedback.
I hope you enjoy the new options. If you are interested in upgrading your pledge to the Silver or Gold tier here is a help article on how to do it: https://patreon.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/360000126286-How-Do-I-Edit-or-Delete-My-Pledge-#howedit
To view the Patreon page and make a pledge visit www.patreon.com/karenmargulis

As always I welcome your feedback and questions. My goal is to make my Patreon page and this blog comprehensive, helpful, inspiring and above all a good value for you!

Friday, March 09, 2018

No Excuse Reference Photos: Stop and Snap!

'Drive By Skies'           7.5x9.5           pastel       ©Karen Margulis
Yes I paint from photos. It is true that photos are not perfect representations of reality and if we copy them we may copy the bad along with the good. So I use photos only for inspiration. To remind me of the time and place. I will only use my own photos because only I know what I saw and felt.

But what if I don't have photos or I am a terrible photographer?
I hear this a lot. Many artists don't have a stockpile of their own photos (my computer currently has over 40k photos!) But in today's digital and mobile age there really is no excuse for not taking your own reference photos. If you have a smart phone you have a camera. If you don't have a smart phone you can pick up a very inexpensive point and shoot digital camera. That's all you need.

Photos don't have to be perfect. In fact the bad photos are the ones I like best. I have permission to change them and make them into more compelling paintings.

A selection of my reference photos

I take  a lot of photos. My of them are what I call drive by shots. When I am  a passenger I often take put my phone or camera and snap away. Today's cloud painting was inspired by a drive by shot on a road trip through New Mexico.

No matter where you live you can find beauty and interest. When you see something that makes you stop.... and snap a photo!

I love painting the sky. I have written a PDF booklet filled with tips and techniques for painting skies and clouds. More information in my etsy shop. click here for the link

Thursday, March 08, 2018

Five Tips for Painting with Yellow

'The Golden Hour'           8x10          pastel         ©Karen Margulis
available $145
 As if you needed another reason to add to your pastel collection!  How about painting some golden trees? Terry Ludwig pastels are hard to resist and I love this set of yellows.  I have always enjoyed using yellow. I like a lot of yellow subjects....flowers, sand, sky, sunlight!  But I always found yellow a challenging color to work with in pastel. I found it difficult to get it bright and sunny enough! I have some tips below but I have to say that this set of pastels is making the job easier!

Terry Ludwig pastels - Stunning Yellows click here to see details

  • Start with orange. When building up a mass of yellow begin with darker values if possible. I like to start with the orange family then gradually build to the lightest and brightest yellows.
  • Use violets. Using the complement of yellow which is violet will help the yellows be more visually exciting. Surround yellows with violets (all kinds) or place them side by side for more interesting yellows.
  • Go darker. If your yellows don't seem bright enough try surrounding them with a darker value color. It will be like turning the lights on in a dark room!
  • Warm and cool. It helps to have a variety of warm orangey yellows and cooler lemon yellows in a mass of yellow.
  • Use Shouting marks. When you really want your yellow to stand out....press harder. A few hard edged marks will contrast nicely with softer marks. These shouting marks will stand out!

NOTE: The painting in this post was done only with yellow pastels as a challenge to create a monochromatic painting. I used the Terry Ludwig Stunning Yellows set and the 5 additional pastels shown below.

"For most people, yellow is a happy color. It generally energizes, relieves depression, improves memory and stimulates appetite."  Shirley Williams

You can see the step by step photo demo of this painting over on my Patreon page. Join our challenge to paint a monochromatic painting!

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

The Painting Blues: Three Reasons to Paint with Blue

'The Blues'           8x10         pastel       ©Karen Margulis
available $125

Color is everything. Or is it?  Most of us are drawn to pastels because of the wonderful array of colors. They are all there in front of us. We don't have to mix them to see the possibilities. We want them all and we never have enough.  But color can also be our downfall.  You've heard it before:

Color gets the Glory but Value does the work.

If we don't get the values correct then all the colors in your box will not make the painting better. In fact the more colors we add to try to fix the painting the more we risk making mud.  Value studies are good. Value block- ins are helpful. Lots of practice seeing value is important. I have a great exercise to try. Why not try limiting your palette?

I love painting with ONE COLOR....a Monochromatic color scheme.  I pick a color and allow myself to use a full value range of that color. I give myself permission to use both warm and cool versions of my color. This gives me quite a few choices. 

Study for blue Trees
 Here are Three Reasons to Paint with one color

1. Working with one color helps the value challenged.  If you have trouble simplifying a busy scene into a few values often adding color choices to the mix makes it even harder.  Working with one color takes color out of the equation so that you can concentrate on getting the values correct.

2. Working with one color helps you become intimate with the color.  Not only is it easier to see value within one color it is also easy to judge color temperature.....putting a cool yellow next to a warm one makes the difference between them more clear. Is one closer to orange? Is one closer to blue or green? It is easy to see when they are together.

3. Working with one color is manageable.  Sometimes it is nice to keep things simple. Pick a color, any color and forget about all of the pastels in your boxes. Keep it simple and concentrate on your values or your composition or your strokes and mark-making. Give yourself one less thing to worry about!

Black and white reference photo

Check out the video demo of this painting on my Patreon page. www.patreon.com/karenmargulis

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Pick a Color, Any Color!

'The Edge of Magic'            8x10       pastel      ©Karen Margulis
available $145
I pick blue! I wanted to challenge myself this week by doing only monochromatic paintings. Having only one color family to think about results in one less decision to make when painting. I am free to play with marks and expression. These things sometimes get neglected when we are overly focused on choosing the right colors.

Trying out a frame to see if I am finished

I had finished my weekly Patreon video and looked down a the tray of gorgeous blue pastels. I wasn't finished exploring and playing with them! So I pull out a discarded painting from the pile. It was on old Pastelbord with a bad attempt at plein air. It was easy to brush off some of the loose layers and et down the rest with rubbing alcohol.

The old painting turned on the side. Tilt your head to see the painting.

Brushed off and liquified with rubbing alcohol .Reference photo on top right
The new blue base was perfect for my forest scene. I even had some suggested tree trunks! It was fun exploring the forest using only blue pastels. I allowed myself a variety of blues and a variety of brands. I had a selection of warm and cool and dark, middle and light value. How many different blues can you see in the painting?

Tomorrow I will share another blue monochromatic painting along with tips for painting with one color family.

Monday, March 05, 2018

Before and After: A Painting is Rescued

'Summer Breeze'           16x20         pastel        ©Karen Margulis
I admit it. I was looking for a painting to fill a frame. We are doing some renovation of our family room and kitchen and needed a 16x20 painting to finish my gallery wall. I enjoy collecting other artist's work but I also like to frame and hang some of my work in other parts of my home besides my studio. I learn from looking at what I did (and didn't do!) I update the gallery wall from time to time. It was time!

I needed a wildflower painting to fit my theme. But I didn't have a 16x20 handy for instant gratification. So I did the next best thing.....revive and rework a much older painting. The painting (below) was on Uart so I never threw it away though it was never going to see the light of day.
Can you list the things that are wrong with the original painting?

The original dud of a painting was 18x24

  • The flowers were blowing in the wind but the grass wasn't! That doesn't make sense.
  • The flowers were all on top of the grass rather than integrated into the grasses.
  • The grass marks were all the same size and in the same stiff upright direction.
  • The yellow flowers were ugly. They were stiff and too dense. Yuck!
  • There wasn't much I liked about the painting other than the sky color!
First I marked off  a section of the original 18x24 to fit my new 16x20 size. Look closely to see the lines. I used a stiff brush to brush off the top layer of pastel giving me a ghost image of green, yellow and blue shapes. I sprayed a light coat of workable fixative to fix these shapes in place. I then recomposed by blocking in some Queen Annes Lace shapes.

Remeasured, brushed out and a new beginning
I liked the subtle hints of yellow that were left over from the old painting so I added suggestions of yellow flowers back into the painting. I added the final touches and linear grass strokes that were blowing in the breeze this time! One finished I used a utility knife to cut the painting to size!

Adding back some yellow flowers
I will take a photo of my gallery wall when It is finished! What do you have in your reject pile that needs to be reworked? This week is a good time to give it a go!

Saturday, March 03, 2018

Have You Painted in Black and White Lately?

'Meadow Spirits'       9x12      pastel      ©Karen Margulis

I was vacuuming the studio when the cord knocked over a box of black and white pastels.  Upside down.  All over the floor.  I wasn't even planning to keep them.  They were the black, white and gray pastels that came in my Diane Townsend pastel set. I figured I wouldn't be painting with black and white so they were going to the storage shelf.

As I picked the pastels up and put them in the box. (only one casualty)  I began to see the possibilities.  I love black and white photography so why not a black and white painting? 

Diane Townsend pastels
I did a black and white thumbnail sketch and chose four pastels. I picked a dark, light, a middle dark and middle light. I also threw in the black for accents. I used a piece of gray Canson. I am loving this paper!
I was pleasantly surprised. I thoroughly enjoyed painting with these 4 pastels and learned a few lessons.

Black & White painting with Value Thumbnails

  • I thought I would miss using color. After all one of the things that we are most drawn to as pastelists is the color!  But I found it was one less thing to worry about. By removing the issue of color and color choices I was able to focus on the painting itself. 
  • Without color VALUE was easier to see and to judge.  I only had to deal with four values so it made it easier to simplify the painting.
  • Without color I was able to pay more attention to EDGES.  Where would I use soft edges? Where would I add more detail and sharper edges.
  • It was easier to understand atmospheric perspective without color.  I had to make use of tools other than color to create the illusion of depth....such as lighter values and less contrast and detail in the distance.
I plan to keep my black and white and gray pastels. I enjoyed this little experiment and I will be painting with them again!

What's Happening on Patreon this Week
We are beginning our exploration of the wonderful world of color! Our weekly challenge is to paint something in black and white. Head on over to my Patreon page to find out why! ($4 subscription pledge but worth it:)) www.patreon.com/karenmargulis

Friday, March 02, 2018

Fun with Pastelmat!

'Irish Sunshine'             5x5         pastel        ©Karen Margulis
 I feel like I have been on an HGTV program this week. It has been a whirlwind week of renovation and decoration. With the finishing touches done I can now relax and enjoy our new family room. We decided last weekend that it was time to replace the ugly brown carpet in the tv room. We called it the Brown Room. Ughhh. So off to the flooring store we went. We chose waterproof laminate wood in a soft gray. It completely changed the room!  It went from dull and boring to bright and airy. I might even paint in here!

Of course I needed some art for the walls. And until I find pieces that speak to me I put up some of my personal favorites. There seemed to be a theme.....wildflowers! Surprise, surprise. Just when I thought I was finished I found some shadowbox frames at the thrift store. They were perfect for the room and just need the right paintings.

Shadow box frames from Ikea
I cut some Pastelmat scraps to 5 x 5 and pulled out some of my Ireland photos. I continued to be inspired by my summer trip and my photos were the perfect inspiration for my square paintings. I really love Pastelmat. There is something nice about the softness and the way it grabs the pastel. I think I will paint these larger!

'Summer Song'        5x5       pastel

'Beauty by the Beach'         5x5       pastel

Thursday, March 01, 2018

Underpainting 101:What is an Alcohol Wash?

'Ribbons of Gold'       12x12       pastel       ©Karen Margulis
available $195
The very first underpainitng technique I ever tried was a simple alcohol wash. I loved it but thought I was cheating! It seemed as if my painting was half done after the underpainting was dry! I have now experimented with many underpainting media and techniques but I still enjoy the good old alcohol wash. So tonight after a long day of non painting chores I decided to play with this favorite!
Here is the resulting underpainting. I used Nupastels and 70% rubbing alcohol.

12 x12 on Uart 500 grit sanded paper

  • An ALCOHOL WASH is simply a technique used to liquify pastel creating a wet underpainting. Using a paintbrush and 70% rubbing alcohol the artist wets the pastel creating a wet wash. Pastel can also be liquified with water and Odorless mineral spirits with slightly different results. ( I have also used vodka which works great!)
  • Sanded paper or paper that can take a wet wash is needed. Note that some sanded papers do not take a wet wash. (LaCarte)
  • It is best to use a harder pastel for an alcohol wash. The softer pastels with more pigment than binder tend to get thick and gummy when wet. I have had success with softer pastels when I apply them very lightly.
  • Take your time! You are turning pastel into liquid paint....like gouache ...so take advantage of this and slow down and use the brush to paint! Use brushstrokes to help describe what you are painting. It is not just a matter of getting everything wet....slow down and make the underpainting just as important as the pastel application.
  • Embrace the drips! One of the wonderful things about wet underpaintings is the opportunity for the unexpected! Let the pigment drip and mix and mingle!
Do you have any tips for doing an alcohol wash? Feel free to share them in the comments!

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

The Easiest Way to Paint the Sky

'Afternoon Hush'       9x12       pastel        ©Karen Margulis
available $145
I love to paint the sky. I even have three different techniques to paint the sky.  Even if it is just a small part of a landscape I always take care to choose the right sky technique. One of my favorite types of skies is also the easiest. I call it an Energetic Sky.

I like to paint an energetic sky when I am painting en plein air. It is fast and allows me to capture the essence of the sky with a minimum of strokes. It is also a great technique to use of large paintings. But every once in awhile I find myself drawn to an energetic sky for smaller paintings. 

It is easy! Just grab about 6 or 7 pastels that are similar in value. These will be your sky colors. Choose your color by the mood you wish to create keeping in mind that most skies will be on the light end of the value scale.

A selection of similar value pastels
  • Take these colors and apply them one at a time. I use the side of the pastel to make broad sweeping marks. I press fairly hard (what I like to call a shouting mark) because I won't be going back over these areas with many layers. I put down a mark and leave it alone.
  • Begin with the darkest pastel in your selection and keep adding the other pastels with broad sweeping marks.
  • Think 'Energetic' and move the pastel around the sky creating interesting marks.
  • Don't overwork! Be brave, Make a mark and leave them alone.
The next 3 photos show the development of my energetic sky. In the photos you can also see how I use the sky color to break up the tree shapes. Another lesson! 

Try this: For your next painting select 6 or 7 pastels of similar value and paint an energetic sky!

I show the step by step demo with detailed commentary on my Patreon page this week. The demo is free this week so you can get an idea of some of the content I offer every day on Patreon.  Check it out!