Sunday, May 24, 2015

How To Prepare Pastel Paper for Plein Air Painting

'Dreams of Zion'                5x7          pastel           ©Karen Margulis
click here to purchase $75

I love to experiment with paper. Not always though. When I go on a plein air trip I want to be sure I have my favorite paper with me. Plein air painting is challenging enough. Especially when visiting an unknown place. We are dealing with different light, different weather, new scenery. It is easy to get overwhelmed. Throw in a new paper and it is a recipe for frustration.

I always pack plenty of my favorite go-to paper for plein air. It used to be Wallis Belgian Mist paper. I loved the gray brown tone of the paper. It worked perfectly for quick plein air studies. I didn't have to tone it or do any underpainting. I didn't have to worry about the light bits of paper peeking through my pastel layers. The nice brown tone unified my paintings.

Last time I checked Wallis wasn't available. Last fall Kitty Wallis was taking orders for seconds and a new warm mist paper but I don't know if that is still available.  So I have decided to make my owned Belgian Mist toned paper!


I start with a full sheet of my favorite paper....UArt 500 grade sanded pastel paper. I cut it into the sizes I want to bring. I only will bring 5x7 and 8x10. I use a ruler and scissors or utility knife.
Alternately you can tone the entire sheet first and then cut it to size.


I am using sample cans of latex house paint that I found in Home Depot in the 'oops' section. Someone couldn't get the color they wanted but it was the perfect color for my paper. You could just find a color chip you like and have a sample can prepared. A sample is usually under $5.

I diluted the paint with water so it was thin. I don't want it to clog the tooth of the paper. If I can see the paper through the paint than it is thin enough. I also use a cheap brush. You can use a roller for a smoother application.


When the paint was dry I cut my paper to size. Here is my paper ready to be loaded into my portfolio folders.  You can see I have tones Uart, regular Uart and some Pastel Premier Italian Clay paper. I am still too new to Pastel Premier to make it my only choice. I need to work with it some more.


Loaded and ready to go! You can read about how I carry paper and store finish paintings HERE.

Today's painting is a plein air study done on tined Uart at Zion National Park.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Packing for a Plein Air Trip part one

'Desert Oasis'             5x7         plein air pastel               ©Karen Margulis
sold
 The adventures will begin soon. It is time to pack. I don't like to pack for a plein air trip at the last minute. I like to spread out the project over a few weeks. It's is part of the fun anticipation of a trip. I set aside a table in my studio and lay out all of the things I think I need or would like to bring.

Then I go through it all. I eliminate most of it. I keep the bare minimum amount of supplies. I want to travel light and free. I want just enough to allow me to paint quick studies. I want to capture fleeting moments in time. I don't need to bring the contents of my studio with me. If it can't fit in my backpack or carry-on then it will stay home.

As I pack I'll share my process. Packing light isn't for everyone but perhaps you will like some of my ideas. Perhaps you will have tips of your own you'd like to share?

Packing Paper for a Plein Air Trip

Today I am packing paper. I won't be painting anything larger than 8x10 on my trips. I will be gone for a total of 6 weeks this summer so that is potentially a lot of paper.  Since I will have a three day turn-around in between trips I will be able to restock my paper but I am getting it all prepared now.

Itoya Portfolio folders in two sizes....8x10 and 5x7

  •  I will bring an assortment of my favorite sanded pastel papers. Uart, Pastel Premier, Pastelmat, Multimedia Artboard and a few pieces of leftover Wallis paper.
       Tip: Bring paper that you are familiar with. Unless you have a lot of room and want to                     experiment and play it is safer to work on paper you know.
  • I am cutting full sheets of the papers into smaller sizes both 5x7 and 8x10. I use a ruler and scissors or utility knife to cut the paper. (saves money)
  • I am toning some of the Uart paper in my favorite plein air color (more on this tomorrow)
  • I am filling my Itoya plastic portfolio folders wit the cut paper. These folders have plastic sleeves that work great for protecting and transporting paper.
  • I put finished paintings back into the plastic sleeve of the folder. This is how I transport and protect my finished paintings. (yes a little residual pastel dust is left on the plastic but not enough to harm the painting.)
  • The plastic folders are great for sharing your work with others and keeping the paintings safe. 
  • The loaded folders are slipped into my backpack. The perfect solution for keeping both paper and paintings safe!
How to do store and transport paper and paintings on a plein air trip?



New Mexico Workshop Note: 
Registration is now open for my October workshop in Pecos New Mexico. It will be a pastel workshop retreat at the Pecos Benedictine Monastery in Pecos, New Mexico located in the Pecos River Canyon 25 miles east of Santa Fe. 

October 8-13, 2015   4 day workshop
 Arrive Thursday October 8th, workshop on Friday, Saturday, Sunday
  and Monday. Depart Tuesday October 13

$800  includes  workshop instruction 4 days and lodging for 5 nights. Lodging   
 includes 3 meals daily. 

To register for the workshop and secure your lodging please contact:
                          Bruce Wadsworth
                          Marketing/Retreat Director
                          Pecos Benedictine Monastery
                          Tues.-Sat. 9-3:00
                          manager@pecosmonastery.org
                          (505)-757-6415 ex t12  (505)-946-7281 cell    




Plein air paintings done last October in New Mexico

Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Two Important Functions of Pastel Marks

'Invite the Bees'               6x12              pastel                   ©Karen Margulis
click here to purchase $145
The marks are important. The way you apply the pastel matters. Not only do they reflect your style, they help express your message. I have discovered that my marks have two important functions:

1. Marks help describe.  The way you make your marks can help describe your subject. Look at the poppy painting in this post. There are a variety of marks. The flowers are painted with broad and bold marks that go in the direction of the form of the flower. The grasses are painted with thinner linear strokes painted in the direction the grasses are growing.
Take advantage of making marks that help describe the things you are painting!

2. Marks show emotion. Big bold, small and precise.....the way you make marks says a lot about you. It is how you express yourself with pastel. You can adjust your marks to express a mood or feeling.
Take advantage of making marks that help show the emotion you feel about your subject.

I'd like to share a handout from a recent class I taught on mark making. Feel free to try the exercises!

Embrace Your Calligraphy

A Focus on Mark Making in Pastel Painting

Calligraphy is the art of beautiful writing. In pastel painting it refers to the way each artist produces marks, most often referring to linear marks. 

Every artist has their own personal way of making marks. Just as we all have unique handwriting we make unique marks when painting.

Discover your own personal calligraphy and embrace it!

Here are some suggested exercises to help you discover and refine your own personal calligraphy:

  • Study other art especially pastel work. Look at the marks. Do small studies and duplicate the marks you see using your own subject.
  • Abstracts: Look at other pastel paintings (books, Pastel Journal, online galleries) Use a tool such as a viewfinder to isolate a small section. Paint the section concentrating on duplicating the marks.
  • Paint a simple subject such as an apple using several kinds of marks: linear, scribbles,hatching and cross hatching, stippled,side stokes,blended.
  • Compare blended marks with unblended by painting two versions of the same subject…one blended and one with visible marks.
  • Practice your Touch…..how light can you paint? How heavy?
  • Paint large!  Do a painting that is at least 16x20. How does the size effect your marks?



The above exercises are meant to help you experiment with marks and show you the many possibilities that we have with pastels. Now it is up to you to just paint! The more you paint them more your own personal calligraphy will emerge. Don’t force it. Just paint, see what happens and embrace it!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Best Way to Evaluate Your Mark-Making

'Excitement in the Air'               8x10        plein air pastel            ©Karen Margulis
click here to purchase $125
It happens when you aren't paying attention. When you are caught up in the moment. When you are painting with passion and excitement. That is the time when you let go and stop overthinking every mark you make. That is the time when your own personal calligraphy emerges. You are making marks to express your feelings and you stop thinking about HOW to make them.....you just simply paint them.

In yesterday's blog post I wrote about mark-making in pastel. Read the post here. I wrote about the importance of embracing your natural tendencies for applying pastel to paper. Are you a linear painter? Or Bold or delicate?  How do you even know?

You can take a look at several recent paintings and evaluate the marks you made. But here is an even better way:




The painting in today's post is a plein air pastel I did during a paint-out. The weather was changing quickly. A storm was moving in. I had to paint fast! I had to simply respond to the scene. I painted furiously and with passion. My marks are my own. I didn't stop to think about the best way to apply the pastel. I just let my marks fly.

Tomorrow I will address the power of marks and how we can harness them to create better paintings.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Do You Have Mark Making Envy?

'My Friend Raven'               5x7                  pastel                ©Karen Margulis
painting available $50
 It happens to me. I admire a painting. I study it. Maybe it is the color palette I like. Maybe it is the subject. But often it is the the marks...the way the pastel is applied. Oil and acrylic has brushwork. We admire an artist's brushwork. In pastel we don't call it brushwork  but the way an artist applies the pastel is often known as mark-making.

The way an artist makes marks is unique to that artist. It is like handwriting. No two artists have the same calligraphy or application of pastel just as no one has the same handwriting. 

When mark envy occurs we often wish we could make our marks the way we see others do. "If only I could apply the pastel like __________"  We could try to copy but ultimately it wouldn't be authentic. It would be forced. We all have natural tendencies in our way of making marks. Some of us like linear marks, some of us like big broad strokes. Some have soft feathery strokes.

close up of linear marks
I like to remind myself that I have my own natural way of making marks. The best advice I can give is for you to discover your natural tendencies and EMBRACE  your own personal calligraphy. Make the way you apply pastel your own statement.  I have some more thoughts on mark-making which I will share in upcoming blog posts.

TRY THIS:
What is your personal calligraphy? Line up 5 recent paintings. Look at them and try to define the types of marks you made....linear? Side stokes, Light hand? heavy hand? Bold marks? delicate marks? Write down your observations.

What choices do you have? Sometimes it is fun to try different types of marks. This allows you to see what feels the most comfortable. Try a simple subject such as an apple and do several small studies changing the type of marks you use.


Monday, May 18, 2015

How to Make Better Business Cards

'Garden Party Time'              6x6            pastel               ©Karen Margulis
painting available $65
 I want my business cards to be keepable. What's the point in giving out business cards if they end up in the garbage. Business cards need staying power. You never know when your art or services may be needed. If your business card is a keeper it is more likely to be there when the need arises.

I am a big fan of Moo.com. I love their business cards and I am always trying the latest products.  I was excited to try the new square business cards. They measure about 2.5 x 2.5 inches. I got my first order and love them so much I ordered another set!

Square cards are cool!

I think these cards will be keepers! I decided to showcase about 50 different wildflowers paintings on the front of the cards. The great thing about moo cards is the ability to use up to 50 different images on one batch of cards. There is no set up fee or extra image fees. It is a very simple upload process. The back of the card has my contact information. You get full color printing on both sides for no extra charge.

I am very pleased with the printing and color reproduction. The card stock is heavy and feels expensive. You can even upgrade to an even more luxurious card stock.

The quality of Moo cards is wonderful
If you don't have business cards or need to get new ones consider giving Moo cards a try. If you use this link to create your cards you will get 10% off your first order.  Click here for the link.

If you don't have business cards or make your own, treat yourself to some really nice business cards. You are your own brand and your business cards reflect you as an artist. You DESERVE nice business cards!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Timeless Tips for Painting Daisies

"Sparkle and Shine'            8x10         pastel             Karen Margulis
sold

As I prepare for my IAPS Wildflower demo, I am immersed in daisies. I wanted to share this older post as it is very timely. I hope you enjoy it!

 "My daisies look like a 5 year old painted them"   I hear this all of the time when I teach my wildflower workshop.  There is actually a very good reason why this can be true for many artists.  It has to do with how well we really look at the daisies when we paint them.  The problem is that often we don't observe these flowers as well as we should. Why not?

A Collage of Available Daisy Paintings
We often don't spend enough time observing the daisy because it is such a familiar flower to us. We think we know just how they look. We know they are white with yellow centers and that there are petals surrounding this center.  We probably drew daisy-like flowers as children whenever we had to draw a flower.  Our brains have developed the daisy into a symbol.

This is the daisy that we drew as children. The yellow circle surrounded by white petals.  Now as mature artists we often revert to this symbol without even being aware that we are doing it.  Our brain jumps in and helps us by supplying the symbol for a daisy and as a result we don't take the time to study the daisy and see that it isn't like our symbol!   The result: child-like daisies!


How can we paint more painterly mature daisies?  Here are some tips:

  • Take the time to really look at the daisies you are painting whether it be from photos or from life. Notice the colors and the way the petals are not always perfect and regular. Notice the direction of the petals. Are they pointing up or down?  What about a variety in the stages of the flowers? Are some not quite in bloom or maybe on their way out?
  • Color is important!  We typically think of the local colors of the daisy as being white petals with yellow centers.  But painting them this way will give them a sterile look. Add some colors to the petals and the centers. 
  • Pay attention to the light source and it will help you choose colors to make your daisies come alive.  Paint the petals in the shade with cooler colors...pale blues and lavenders.  Paint the sunlit petals with warm pale lights....pale yellows and peaches work well. Rarely do I ever use pure white.
  • Stems and leaves: Try not to paint every stem and leaf. Hint at some and the viewer will fill in the rest. Be especially careful not to make stems too thick and regular. You don't want them to look like balloons on sticks. I like to vary the thickness and pressure when I paint stems.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

How to Paint Daisies in Pastel Using a Watercolor Underpainting


'Daisies Make me Smile'             9x12              pastel            ©Karen Margulis
sold
Daisies make me smile!  I love to paint them but I wasn't always successful. In fact anytime I tried to add wildflowers to a painting they would look childish and sweet. I didn't want that! I wanted my wildflowers to look authentic ...to look like they belonged in the landscape and not just an afterthought. I wanted them to look as wild and free as I saw them.  But they always looked stiff and boring.

I didn't give up.  I just practiced and observed and tried different techniques.  I am still learning but at least now my daisies don't look like they were painted by a preschool child!  I have discovered ways to help me paint them better.  Last year I put together a step by step demo on how I paint daisies using a watercolor underpainting.

The demo is available as a pdf booklet in my Esty shop for $6. Click here for details 

The cover of the pdf booklet
I am sharing the demo again in honor of my upcoming Wildflower Demo at the IAPS convention. You could say I have wildflowers on my mind!  This demo is 30 pages filled with 60 color photos. I have documented each step of the painting from the watercolor underpainting all the way through the layering of the pastels.  I extensively cover the watercolor underpainting stage....something I didn't always have great success with!  Through the many photos and my description you will be able to see how I work through the addition of pastel while preserving the underpainting. Here are a few sample photos:


close up photo of watercolor underpainting
sample from the pdf demo

This demo is a PDF file so you can either print it out and staple the pages into a booklet or just save it and follow on your computer or tablet. I know several artist who like to follow and paint along on their iPads.
I would love for you to take a closer look and consider giving this demo a try. I have 11 other demos available as well. They can be found in my Etsy shop.
Here is a link to the demos.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Paint with 38 Pastels or Less

'Its the Simple Things That Matter'          8x10              pastel              ©Karen Margulis
available for purchase $125
 I have enough pastels. Really I do. It doesn't stop me from having pastel envy though. Whenever a new set comes out or someone shows me a box of new pastels it begins all over again. The desire for more pastels. I don't need any more and I will have to be strong at the candy store at the IAPS Convention in a few weeks.

More pastels mean more choices. That is good but it can also lead to color chaos in a painting. It is sometimes hard to hold back. We want to use them all.....but the truth is Less is More.

The 38 pastels I used for this painting 
Think about it.....if we were mixing paint we wouldn't have hundreds of tubes. We would have a few and we would mix the colors we need. It leads to more harmonious color. Pastels are a bit different. We can physically mix colors the same as liquid paint so we need to have more sticks of color.

But we can take a cue from mixing paint....the idea that a limited palette leads to better color harmony and more unified color. It works for pastels as well. Try limiting the number of pastels you use in a painting. Choose a possible palette in advance. Make sure you have colors that match the values in your painting. (some darks, lights and middle values) When painting, try to reuse colors rather than reach for a new color. It may feel limiting at first but it is truly liberating.

Too many pastels to choose from
TIPS FOR SELECTING A LIMITED PALETTE

  • The underpainting colors are important. Choose them first. They will peek through and help unify a painting.
  • Select the darks. Look for colors to represent that darkest areas of your painting.
  • Choose colors for each element of the painting....sky colors, distant trees, mountain colors and so on. Visualize the colors and values you will need for each element.
  • Keep track. Try not to exceed 40 or so pastels in your initial selection.
  • If you add colors as you paint keep them out and add them to your tray or pile of pastels.
Read more about using a limited palette in this blog article by James Gurney. click here to read.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Think Outside the Box ...Painting Format Matters.

'Reach for the Sun'      10x20       pastel          ©Karen Margulis
painting available $195
Do you think outside of the box? When it comes to choosing your painting size what governs your  choice?  Often for me it was the Pile. That is the pile of papers I keep in the corner of my studio. I would often just choose the piece of paper that was on the top of the pile. Size, type and color didn't matter. Or should it?

Sometimes I did give it more thought. A bit more. If it was a landscape then I would automatically orient my paper to landscape mode....horizontal. That was limiting.

I started to think outside the box. Landscape don't have to be painted in a horizontal rectangle. What about vertical or portrait orientation? Or how about squares? Even more interesting how about panoramic?  What about size? Standard paper sizes are safe. They are easier to frame. But do they fit the subject? Would a non-standard size be a better choice?

detail view
This is food for thought. I tend to stick with standard sizes but when I think outside of this standard box my possibilities are limitless. For today's painting I decided that a long and narrow format would be the best fit for my concept. The flowers are tall and leggy and are reaching high above the meadow. They called out for more room to grow and a 10x20 piece of paper was the answer.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Revisiting a Favorite Painting Spot...Blue Ridge Georgia.

'Autumn Lace'               8x10           plein air pastel               ©Karen Margulis
click here to purchase $125
Imagine driving  on peaceful country road. It winds it's way slowly alongside the river. You can smell the freshly mown hay and hear the gentle sounds of the river. As you round each bend the views get better. Soon you arrive. It is time to get settled in and take a deep breath of the sweet country air.

Imagine staying in this spot for three days. Painting. Learning. Laughing. Imagine being surrounded by other passionate artists. Artists of all abilities. Artists who just want to become better artists and who share the same passions as you. 

Come join us this October. Marsha Hamby Savage and I will be teaming up to teach a 3 day plein air workshop in Blue Ridge Georgia. The workshop will be held October 2,3,4. Friday , Saturday and Sunday. Marsha has a wonderful rustic cabin on the river where we will paint. We will also paint in some other beautiful spots....we know the secret spots!


Down a country road
I had my first plein air workshop experiences with Marsha and she taught me well! Now it is time to give back and work together pooling our teaching strengths and experience. You benefit from two great instructors!

Intrigued?  Let us know you are interested. The workshop is filling quickly and there are only a few spots left in the cabin. The cost of the 3 day workshop is $350 with cabin lodging or $300 without lodging. There are plenty of places to stay in the area. Rent a cabin with friends and come join us!
*** Update: as of May 13 there is one spot left in the cabin but still room in the workshop!***

To ask questions send us an email: Karen  Marsha
To register: visit our workshop page. You can use Paypal for your deposit or send us a check. Please email us so we can send you a contract and recommended supply list.

Plein air painting in Blue Ridge before the flowers are mowed down!


Marsha leading a group to a cool painting spot


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

How to Choose Pastels for a Plein Air Trip

'Visiting Honfleur'               8x10            pastel               ©Karen Margulis
available here $125
I am in countdown mode. In a little more than a month I will be in France. I will be a guest instructor with Stan Sperlak and the Painter's Passport group. We will be visiting Paris and then spending a week in Normandy. I have a lot of preparations to make since I will be teaching at IAPS in New Mexico before France. I will also be staying on in Europe to visit a friend in Sweden and to teach a workshop in Finland.  A lot to prepare but I am taking it one day at a time.

Today I am organizing my pastels for France. I want to travel light so I have pared down my supplies. Everything needs to fit in my carry-on backpack. I am bringing my Heilman double sketchbox for my pastels. I don't usually change the pastels in the box. It is a good assortment that will work for most landscapes. I try to have 3 values of each color on the color wheel. If I have a range of values I can make a painting work. I may not have the exact color but I can find a value that will work.  I use smaller pieces of pastel and an assortment of Girault pastels so I can fit more in the box.

My box is filled with Giraults and some Terry Ludwig pastels

Once I have the general assortment I decide if I need to supplement with colors specific to the area where I will be painting. I have a tip that I like to use.  GOOGLE STREET VIEW.
I google the painting location and look at the street view map. I basically take a tour of the area looking at general colors....are there a lot of trees? Buildings? What colors are prevalent? I take a few screen shots and do a few quick studies. This allows me to evaluate my color selection. (be sure to take into consideration the season of the street view photos. They won't be as helpful if they are winter photos and you will be going in summer!)

The beach in Honfleur France from Google Street view map

 I also study the work of the artists who painted in the area where I will visit. Today I found a book on Eugene Boudin at the thrift store. It is timely because Boudin painted in and around Honfleur which is near where we will be visiting. It is interesting to see how Boudin interpreted the area.

A timely thrift store find on Eugene Boudin




Monday, May 11, 2015

A Quick and Easy Storage Solution for Finished Pastels


'May Poppies'             2.5 x 3.5            pastel             ©Karen Margulis
sold
 I wasn't going to bring them. We were headed to the lake for Mother's Day and I decided I wasn't bringing pastels. I had a book. I planned to sit in the sun and visit with my family. There would be no time to paint.  Or would there?  There is always a chance!

Has it happened to you? If you don't bring painting supplies then you end up with plenty of time and opportunities to paint?  I decided to bring pastels after all.  Just in case.  It was very easy to do now that I have a Heilman single sketchbox. I just threw it in my beach bag along with a plastic envelope of small reference photos and pre-cut 2.5x3.5 inch papers. I needed a way to store the finished paintings. I quickly made a mini notepad which worked like a charm!

'May Meadows'            2.5 x 3.5           $25
I was happy to have my pastels because we did have some downtime after lunch. It was the perfect opportunity to take a break from the sun and set up my box under cover. I managed to paint 5 mini pastels before the wind picked up. It was a relaxing and productive way to spend the afternoon.

An easy way to protect finished mini pastels
My little notepad worked very well. It was easy to slip the finished painting in between the sheets of paper. It was easy to make.

  • I used a 3" wide strip of card stock for the cover. 
  • I then cut about 10 sheets of paper to fit. I folded the bottom of the cardstock up over the white paper and stapled them together. 
  • I then folded the rest of the cardstock over the paper to make a 'matchbook' cover.
These little notepads can be made to any size. I plan to make some more!


The Heilman single sketch box in action on the houseboat

Saturday, May 09, 2015

How I discovered the Missing Color

'Flowers for Mom'              5x7                pastel              ©Karen Margulis
painting available on Etsy $50
It wasn't very exciting. I tried to use the secret of green to make it more interesting. I did an orange underpainting and added a few purple flowers. It still felt dull to me. It needed to go back to the drawing board.

What could I do to make this little wildflower painting more exciting?  I considered putting more emphasis on the white wildflowers. They all had soft edges so they didn't stand out from the grasses. I could choose a few to clarify and make them stars.  What other options did I have?

Back to the drawing board
 What if I chose to downplay the white flowers. I recalled the wonderful fields of poppies and bluebonnets that I recently saw in Texas. Maybe it would be better to introduce some red poppies into my meadow. So I did.

Still missing something
Now I had red poppies and hints of white flowers. It was still missing something. Bluebonnets! Of course my Texas Spring landscape needed some bluebonnets.  I still didn't feel the painting was finished. I decided to emphasize a few of the poppies. That helped but it was still not there.

What did the painting need? I remembered that the meadows were also filled with tiny yellow flowers. That is the missing color....Yellow!

The missing color was yellow
I sprinkled a few yellow flowers and finally felt good about the painting. Why did the yellow flowers work? The yellow, red and blue created a triadic color scheme. Now my flowers felt balanced. This led to automatic color harmony. It just feels complete.

Have you enjoyed this post? Please feel free to share my blog with others who might enjoy it. Thanks!


Friday, May 08, 2015

Why Does Violet Help a Landscape Painting?

'When in Doubt Add Purple'             11x14             pastel             ©Karen Margulis
Painting is available $175
 We are entering into Green Season. We have a lot of green in Georgia so I am used to dealing with it. It was a struggle though until I learned about the secret. If you have studied with Richard McKinley or read his 'Pastel Pointers' blog or book then you know the secret. Adding Orange and Violet to large green masses creates natural harmony. You can read more about why on Richard's blog post on green here. 

It is great to know the science behind the secret. It makes sense that putting some purple next to your greens will make them look warmer and less artificial. (simultaneous contrast)  While I understand the science I usually just remember this thought....When in doubt add some purple!

But how do we add orange and violet to a landscape? 

Purple tinted clear gesso over a piece of Multimedia Artboard

One of my favorite ways to incorporate them is in the underpainting. Reds and oranges are often used to tone or block in a painting that will have a lot of green. This way the bits of orange peek through and warm up the greens. Purple can also be added through the underpainting. 

For today's painting I decided to tone my paper purple. This helped to subtly introduce the friend of green to my painting. I also chose purple because of my subject. I was painting a meadow of Purple Coneflowers. The flowers were woven into the grasses. I didn't want to paint each and every flower though. I wanted to merely hint at some of them. The purple underpainting helps give the illusion of many many flowers in the meadow.

The purple in the trees and sky also help to harmonize the entire painting. Yes, when in doubt add some purple! 


A couple of close-ups