|'Marsh Madness' 8x10 pastel ©Karen Margulis|
It should be easy to create a foreground that doesn't have too much in it. But I find it to be a challenge. Sometimes I get lucky with a few successful strokes and if I recognize it in time I can leave it alone. But more often than not I end up overworking the foreground and put in too much stuff.
How can we simplify an overworked foreground? Read on for some ideas.
|close up detail of foreground stuff|
|some tools of the trade|
- The first thing I do for an overworked foreground is brush out some of the stuff with a stiff brush. Sometimes this is enough. We tend to want to add things to make it better when we really should be taking things away!
- If that isn't enough I will turn to workable fixative or rubbing alcohol. A light spray of fixative or a spritz of rubbing alcohol will darken and fix the pastel so that subsequent layers will go on fresh and clean. The added bonus is a nice rich dark under the pastel and the pastel will have more of a textured look when applied over 'fixed' areas.
- When I apply more pastel I am careful to make sure every mark I make has a purpose. I try to create a suggested pathway into the painting. I do this with value, color and details. It is easy to fall into the trap of putting in too much stuff....so I slow down and try to have restraint!
- Often it takes more than one layering of fixative and pastel. I have often used several layers of both until I am happy with the results. I want it to be simple and yet complex. (see photo)
- Once the pastel is built up I sometimes have it thick enough to scrape it to reveal some of the under layers. This adds to the texture and interest without being too obvious.
- I will sometimes use the dusting technique using a palette knife to shave pastel dust to create foreground interest.
|plein air frame from Blick.com|