View Full Version : The Spotlight - June 2012 - Edges-Part II

05-31-2012, 10:44 PM
Welcome artists!

Here is a quick recap of what The Spotlight is all about!

The Spotlight is an activity thread for pastel artists of all experience levels working from photos chosen by a monthly host. Most months, the host will choose photos from only one subject, putting that subject into “the spotlight,” so to speak! For example, one month the subject will be painting water, another month will spotlight flowers, etc.

Some months, rather than spotlight a subject, the focus will be on a challenge of some sort. In those cases, we might have a wider variety of photo references, but “the spotlight” will be on the challenge itself.

Since this is a group activity, we can pool our knowledge and resources, and grow as artists in a fun, “no-pressure” atmosphere.

And, remember, no critiques unless specifically asked for.

The intent is to have fun, try new things, experiment, and perhaps most of all, to see what our friends and colleagues are painting from the same reference material!

Please note: The photos this month are from the Reference Image Library or were taken by me. You have permission to use the photos as reference to create your artwork and to sell them and/or exhibit them. The actual photos still retain the copyright of the photographer. So you cannot copy the photo to your blog, for example, without the permission of the photographer, or digitally alter or reproduce the photo for any purpose other than for your personal use, with the exception of crops, digital alterations and posts of these photos within "The Spotlight" thread.

This month’s Spotlight continues our discussion on…Edges!

For those who may be joining us for the first time, here’s a link to last month’s discussion:


Last month we discussed how the manipulation of edges can be used to help us create areas of more or less emphasis, and also to help create the illusion of depth. This month, we will explore some of the other aspects of edges. They can play a part in modeling form, showing texture, indicating atmospheric conditions and indicating movement. They can also play a part in composition and how the eye moves through a painting. In many cases, they play many of these roles.

For the most part, our discussion of edges is primarily aimed to recreate the illusion of human vision, but in many styles of art this is not necessarily one of the goals. So keep in mind that while we discuss making objects look round or creating depth in a painting, these are artistic choices. Choices can just as easily be made to create a painting that looks flat and has little depth. This is one reason that there just aren’t any rules when it comes to manipulating edges.

Even when our goal is to create an accurate illusion of reality, it is still better to avoid formulas and treat each new situation and painting experience on its own terms. In his book Alla Prima, Richard Schmid writes, “Unfortunately, there are no set rules about edges…What appears in one situation may not occur in another. There are too many variables (including your own eyesight) to allow for predictability.”

I’ll be adding some additional comments by Schmid, as well as some from Bob Rohm’s book, The Painterly Approach, and from Harley Brown as well. But for the most part, much of what appeared last month – and even more so this month – is based on my observations and opinions on how edges seem to be manipulated and handled in the many paintings I have studied, and use as examples. Aside from Schmid’s book, there is not really that much discussion of edges in the how-to books that I have read. As in many things about art – learning to make your own observations is the most important “secret.”

So, please, make your own observations – on real life objects and in paintings you admire – and see how many discoveries about edges you make!

For the most part, when artists discuss edges, they refer to hard, soft and lost edges, but keep in mind that these terms are relative and the edges in your painting are compared to one another. Most edges fall somewhere in between your hardest and softest. In fact, Schmid writes (in bold letters) in his book,

“The vast majority of edges in any subject will fall into the intermediate range between hardness and softness.”

With that in mind, let’s look at some examples of what edges can do.

Edges can help us model form and indicate texture

The inherent shape of and actual physical properties of the objects you’re painting can effect the appearance of its edges. Rounded objects or areas – such as apples, a person’s cheek, a rolling hill – usually have softer edges. A softly textured object or area, or one without a definite edge – such as a cloud, fur, hair, a field of swaying grasses - usually has softer edges. Reflections in water almost always have soft edges. Flat, angular, or sharp objects like a box, stiff collars, my DVD player, all have harder edges. In last month’s Pastel Journal article, Richard McKinley states, “If it can cut you, sharpen its edge. If you can hug it, soften its edge.”

Softening the edges of round objects, or surfaces that are curving away is not just an artist’s trick. Since we have two eyes that see things from a different angle, the edges of rounded objects are often slightly fuzzy because each eye sees a slightly different “edge.” This effect is most apparent when the objects are closer to us and will diminish and disappear as the objects become more distant.

Interior edges are often the result of where light and shadow meet. How those edges are handled will provide much information on the shapes of the forms. A rounded object like an apple will have a more gradual, softer light/shadow transition then an object that has sharp corners, like a box.

In most cases, texture is nothing more than the pattern of light and shadow and the edges where they meet.

Most of these things are pretty self-explanatory – and I’m sure most of you are already manipulating your edges to model form. But for the benefit of newcomers to the subject, let’s start with the most simple of shapes and explore how edges help model form.


As we discussed last month, the apparent hardness or softness of an edge can be the result of numerous factors: the actual physical make-up of the edge (sharp, blurry, the use of broken color) and/or the amount of contrast at the edge (more contrast=harder, less contrast=softer). In the case of Box A we see the form of the box, but the low contrast at the edges makes it appear somewhat flatter compared to B, where we have an increase in the edge contrast and, therefore, harder edges. In C the receding outer edges have been softened, thus – at least as far as I see it – making the box even more 3-dimensional.

So, some ways to model form and make things appear more dimensional are:

Harden interior edges.
Soften exterior/outline edges.
Harden nearer edges or edges that come towards the viewer.
Soften edges that recede away from the viewer.

Let’s look at the cylinder:


In No. 1, the dividing line between light and shadow is clearly not real looking. Having a hard edge gives the illusion of flat planes coming together – as in the box examples. So, rounded objects have softened edges where light and shadow meet, as in No. 2. In No. 3, I have softened the outer edges – again, to hopefully add even another level of roundness and depth.

So, some ways to make objects seem rounder are:

Soften interior edges.
Soften exterior/outline edges.

The more gradual the rounding, the more gradual the transition from light to shadow and the softer the edge. A cheek, for example, will usually have a softer edge as it turns than the bridge of the nose, which rounds much more quickly.

And again, these manipulations of edges are all possibilities, not requirements. You may find that softening interior edges is all you need to create roundness in your particular painting. Or maybe all you will want to do is soften the exterior edges. It is your choice – as is not softening any of these edges and keeping your shapes flat. This is art – you can choose how, when and why you will handle the edges in your painting.

Here, in this oil painting by 16th-17th century artist Fede Galizia, we see some nice softening of the edges of the fruit. Compare those edges to the harder edges of the flat plane of the sliced apple.


Let’s compare it to this painting by Paul Gauguin. Not only are Gauguin’s apples hard edged – they are outlined, the ultimate hard edge! This makes the apples seem flat. And yet, the bowl’s back edge (where it disappears behind the apples on the left side) is softened to give the bowl depth. The head sculpture also has a variation of soft and harder edges to model its form, and appears much more 3-dimensional.


Edges can reveal the quality of the light and atmosphere

The intensity of the light and the clarity of the atmosphere effects edges. Bright direct light (such as on a sunny day) will usually create harder edges (often with high contrast) than softer, diffuse light (such as on an overcast day). Edges will usually appear to be harder when the atmosphere is clear, and softer when the atmosphere is humid, foggy or misty.

Edges usually are softer within shadow areas as the values within those areas are usually fairly similar.

We know it is sunny and clear in this Renoir painting by the hardness of the edges – even in some of the distant buildings.


While the foggy atmosphere softens the edges in this Monet:


Edges can help create the illusion of movement

Our eyes can not “freeze” movement the way a camera can. There are less hard edges and details in a moving object when viewed by the human eye. Softer edges can help us try to recreate the illusion of movement.

Compare the edges within the waterfall with those of the objects (roots, grasses, rocks) in the foreground of this painting by Frederic Church. And yet, using too many soft edges might make a moving object lose its form, so some harder edges and details are usually still necessary.

Notice also the edges of the rocks are softer within the shadow area than those in the sun, as well as the softening of edges due to the misty conditions.


Edges can help integrate the subject and the background and help direct the eye

Here’s another reason to vary edges: If you use harder edges all around your subject or objects, they might end up looking like they are “pasted on” - as if they were somehow separate from the background or other areas of your painting. Varying your edges is a good way to integrate your subject(s) with the entire painting. We touched on this last month; how emphasizing or de-emphasizing areas allows the eye to move around the painting – skipping over, or moving through areas with soft and lost edges and towards the more hard-edged focal areas.

Here’s a painting by John Singer Sargent. Notice that there are numerous areas that have lost or very soft edges that integrate the figure with the background. These soft and lost areas offer areas of virtually no emphasis (unless one puts big red arrows there!) – allowing the eye to move quickly to the areas of harder edges and greater contrast.


One additional word about edges and directing the eye. Since hard edges attract the eye, one needs to be careful about placing hard edges near the outer areas of your painting. If they pull the eye too far in any one direction, your painting may become unbalanced and the viewer’s eye may actually be led out of the painting. Since the hardest edges are usually reserved for the focal areas, hard edges in the periphery of the painting may be out of place for that reason as well.

A subtle softening of any edge that meets the boundary of your painting will also help keep the eye from being led out of the painting.

Variety in lines and edges

In many drawing courses, varying edges – or lines – is often considered one of the fundamentals, so it’s no surprise that it relates to painting, too! So, even if you can’t figure out a good, logical reason, just varying lines and edges is a basic fundamental to a successful work of art. Because, as we discussed last month – the human eye does not – and perhaps can not – see everything with an equal level of focus and concentration. Some things stand out – others are less noticeable.

And remember, edge – and line - variation also means that a particular edge can have variety, especially longer edges. A single edge can be hard, soft and lost as we move along its length.

Here is a wonderful drawing by Andrew Loomis. Enjoy the wonderful variety in lines and edges!


There is a lot to notice here, but I’ll just mention the line variety in the hair, including some hard, soft and lost edges in the hair’s outline. Even the line that defines the bridge of the nose goes from hard to softer then harder again. And even though there is no background other than white paper, those soft and lost edges integrate the subject and the background beautifully. The drawing emerges from the paper as if the two were bound together. No “pasted on” look here!

This is from Loomis’s book, Fun with a Pencil, and is used for the purpose of study. Please do not copy or reproduce this image.

Let’s take one last look at a painting and see all the various edges that are there. A wonderful pastel by Gustaf Lundberg, Portait of Boucher.


Here are the things I notice in regards to edges:

Soft edges on the back edge of the hand and finger, indicating both roundness and an edge that is receding away from the viewer.

Harder edges on the thumb of that same hand to bring it forward and add emphasis.

Harder edges in the face – it is the main focal area. The harder edges on the tip of the nose also bring it forward.

Softer edge transitions on the bridge of the nose and the near cheek and jaw indicating more rounded forms.

A soft edge on the receding cheek and jawline.

Softer edges in the hair away from the focal area, and in the shadows.

A variety of edges in the clothing and ruffles.

Personally, I think it is primarily this variety of edges that make this a wonderful painting!

Why edge manipulation is harder than it looks!

As we mentioned last month, since edges can play different roles, sometimes we need to set priorities when those roles may work against each other. For example, we have seen that we can soften edges to create roundness, but what if our round apple is also the focal point of our painting – and we want to use harder edges to create emphasis? We may need to sacrifice roundness to create emphasis. Or we may need to find other ways – such as color – to try and accomplish both goals. It’s not always easy!

Another challenge in regards to painting lost and soft edges is that while we are painting them, we are concentrating on that part of the painting. But when we concentrate on a particular part of our painting, we usually want to add detail and harder edges there. So, somehow (and I wish I knew how!) when painting soft and lost edges you need to keep yourself from concentrating and lingering in that area. It is not easy to paint parts of your painting as if we don’t really want people to look there!

That’s why it is important to step back and try to see your painting as a whole, rather than looking at specific parts. But it’s not easy to do!

Some edge comments by others

As I mentioned earlier, most of the comments in this Spotlight are based on my experience and observations. Here are a few comments that I have collected from other sources:

From the book The Painterly Approach, by Bob Rohm:

“Too many obvious (hard) edges make a work busy. Too many soft ones make the work weak. You must orchestrate a poetic balance. This is a subjective creative choice on your part. Ask yourself if the edge of a stroke is calling attention to an area that should be quiet, and vice versa.”

“By all means, don’t paint the edges that you don’t see just because you know where the edge of something is. If you don’t see it, don’t paint it.”

From Schmid:

“It is not essential to have a rational explanation to paint it (an edge) convincingly. For example, if you recognize a soft edge, that’s all the information you need! It isn’t really necessary to know why it is soft. Just paint it the way it looks!”

These last two quotes stress the importance of observation – and trusting your observations!

Earlier, I mentioned Schmid’s quote that the majority of edges will be of an intermediate hardness/softness. Harley Brown, in his book, Eternal Truths for Every Artist, makes a similar point:

“Too many soft edges – they make a painting go mushy. Too many hard edges – they make a painting strict and harsh.”

Even though this isn’t a quote from a book, I think one can approach edges much like a magician approaches his or her art of illusion. You want your handling of edges it to be effective, but not really noticeable. You want to create the illusion, but you don’t want the method of creating the illusion to be what the viewer notices!

A personal example

Last month during our discussion on edges, I remarked that manipulating edges can be done at various times during the painting process. While the most obvious method would be to manipulate edges as you create them, it is possible to manipulate most of the edges in the final stage of the painting. If a person’s tendency is to paint with mostly soft edges, then certain edges can be made harder at the end. I think more people are likely to paint with hard edges as they paint – they can then soften the edges as needed in the final stages. On advantage to manipulating edges in the final stages is that you can see the entire painting at once – thus you can manipulate edges in comparison to the other edges in the painting. In all likelihood, you will manipulate edges both during the process and at the end when you can more easily compare edges to one another.

Here is a personal example of some edge manipulation in one of my paintings. The original painting was done in 2007. Last year, I revised it – mainly concentrating on edges. I guess others can decide which version they like better, but much of the manipulation was done for many of the reasons we have discussed the past two months.


While there is some edge variety in the 2007 original (left) – the overall look is one of lots of harder edges. In the new version (right) I softened numerous edges. Almost all the edges were softened throughout the hair – hopefully giving it a softer texture. The back edge of the hair is softened even more, both to create more depth and roundness, as well as to de-emphasize that area. The shadow edge on the bridge of the nose is softened a little to create more roundness, and so are the far edge of the nose, cheek, neck and forehead. The edges of the collarbones are all softened to de-emphasize them. I think overall there is a much greater sense of roundness in the new version and the attention is more focused on the face and hands.

The references: In the next post...

05-31-2012, 10:51 PM
The references:

Photo by jyvonne

Photo by JEFrantz

Photo by Tybalt

Photo by jocelynsart

Photo by me

Photo by me

Remember, you can always crop the references and/or modify and rearrange the elements.

Please post your paintings (and any stages or preliminary sketches, too) here in this thread. Feel free to add any discussion, or discoveries you make, about edges.

And most of all, feel free to experiment with edges in your paintings!



06-01-2012, 02:41 AM
Wow Don...I never would have guessed that one still life was a Gauguin. It looks like a Cezanne.

Jason :)

06-01-2012, 08:24 AM
Great lessson!

In regards to that picture of the soft looking kitten, you said in your lesson, "If you can hug it, soften its edge"...that kitten looks all claws, no hugs there! hehehe. :D

06-01-2012, 11:59 AM
Hi Don Great info in here this month read last months but was to busy to get in a couple I will certainly try to get in a couple this month.

06-01-2012, 12:42 PM
Thanks Don ! A wealth of information again this month...looking forward to start painting soon...


06-01-2012, 02:29 PM
Absolutely excellent, as usual, Don! As your own painting of the girl shows, edges mean a whole world of difference.

I tend to more or less handle edges at the end of a painting, which mostly means sharpening them in the area of interest. I find it easier to paint freely first, and fuss last.

The Lundberg is a new discovery for me! He's nearly as good as de la Tour! Those beautiful greens and blues in the shadows of the face really makes it come alive.

The Gauguin, I too thought of Cézanne, and as both were post-Impressionists, and I think they knew each other... That combo of painterly and linear has roots to Botticelli. If I look at the apples at a distance, the lines disappear and the volume of the fruit is incredible.

I think the ref with the girl is not easy to paint, as the far edge of her face is lit with a secondary cool light...

Hopefully, this month is less hysterical than the previous, and I can participate. I have a goal to do so.

06-01-2012, 03:59 PM
Don, thanks for the outstanding lesson, I'm looking at paintings (and drawings) in a different light now - and thinking about re-doing quite a few of mine!

As always, excellent reference photos too - can't decide which one. The rainy day scene appeals because I've seen so much of it recently... oh.... wait... look... a kitty!!! :cat:

06-01-2012, 04:20 PM
Thanks for another great lesson Don!
I've already done that portrait from the RIL. If I have time I'll dig it out and see if I can improve it with some edge manipulation. I actually started the landscape one today but, somehow I got lost with it so I had to leave it for now. Hmm, maybe it's time I gave landscape a rest. I've done quite a few lately.

06-01-2012, 04:35 PM
OOOh I'm back!

My new office/studio will be all mine after tomorrow. Just waiting for the carpenter to take the rest of his tools home and then I can reinstate my pastels, pencils and everything else. It has been hard not having anywhere to work properly.

I missed out on last month's spotlight but hope to have a go at this one.



06-01-2012, 08:40 PM
Hi all, Thanks for the nice comments!

A little internet research tells me that Gauguin and Cezanne did know each other. Gauguin, apparently, was very influenced by viewing the first impressionist exhibition, and that led to his deciding to be an artist. After meeting Pissarro and working with him for a time, Pissarro introduced him to Cezanne - who influenced him greatly. Gauguin purchased a number of Cezannes, as well as paintings by many of the impressionists.

Charlie, Thanks for the nice comment on my painting of the girl. I think last month someone had mentioned that they has not payed that much attention to edges previously. Well, obviously, neither had I. And since I graduated from art school in 1979, by 2007 when I painted the first version, 28 years had gone by! So practically everything I learned about edges has happened fairly recently - mostly due to my involvement with WC. I guess the point of my story is that it is possible to learn new things and evolve no matter how long you have been an artist!

Ruth, I hope you find that earlier version of the portrait ref!

Angie, yes that cat has an interesting mixture of ferocity and fluffiness!

Carol, glad you're back! You might want to read over last month's Spotlight as it covers perhaps the major aspects of edge manipulation (emphasis and depth) in Part I.


06-01-2012, 10:31 PM
Thank you, Don, for these two lessons. I did a piece of Gustave Grunewald of a very similar waterfall that I sketched right in front of the museum massive piece and now understand what was not right with my piece.

06-02-2012, 03:21 AM
Don, these lessons of yours with their mix of classic and personal examples are terrrific! You will have to put them all together in a book, you are a very good teacher.

I have never been 'taught' edges (I studied graphic design at art school, not fine art), just to study the subject very closely and paint what you see rather than what you think you see, but even working that way, going over a painting actually looking at how the edges work together is so useful. It's one of those things you can do when you know a painting 'isn't quite right' but you can't see why! But obviously, the ultimate aim is to be aware of your edge effects as you go, without losing the sponteneity and sheer pleasure and enthusiasm painting.

I will certainly have a go at a couple of these pictures this month.

By the way, being rather new here, I am struggling to find earlier Spotlights; I got back as far as March, but are they archived somewhere? Wetcanvas is SO vast!!


06-02-2012, 09:49 AM
By the way, being rather new here, I am struggling to find earlier Spotlights; I got back as far as March, but are they archived somewhere? Wetcanvas is SO vast!!

WetCanvas is vast and to compound the problem, not everything works all that well! Depending on how you get to the pastel forum, you see different sub-forums. Aside from our 2 active forums (Talk & Studio and Gallery) we do have sub-forums of archived threads - here is the page you see if you click on "Pastels" in the link above where it says WetCanvas > Explore Media > Pastels


The Soft Pastels Archives sub-forum has many of the older Spotlights (back to September 2011 and then from Feb 2010 thru Aug 2010), but not the ones from September 2010 to August 2011.

For those you can use the search feature. Make sure you are in the Soft Pastel Talk forum. At the far right is a "Search this Forum" tab. If you click on it and type in

The Spotlight, you should find all the Spotlights.


Not all the Spotlights have lessons, by the way. Some are just for fun! :eek:

You'll also find threads of interest in the other sub-forums such as The Learning Center.

Hope this helps.


06-02-2012, 10:11 AM
Ahhh!!! Found them! Thank you Don, I'd given up the search.

Tomorrow is supposed to be heavy rain all day here, so I will enjoy a good online Spotlight read! Or then again, I may start one of the pictures......
Thanks again

06-02-2012, 01:12 PM
Thanks for another informative lesson Don. Edges are something I admit I hadn't really thought about either. I guess we all do on some level as we paint but clearly from your own example they are a big issue. So much to think about. I hope I can get one spotlight done well before the last second this time!!!

06-02-2012, 03:00 PM
Wow! Just read through this, and last month's which I missed, and there is heaps to learn. I had never considered edges before. Not sure whether to jump into this spotlight or have a go and last month's first now.

On a sadder note, I can't find all my pastels. :( I put everything in the small bedroom while my studio was redone but three boxes have gone astray including a box of unisons. :( I am trying to rack my brain to remember where I may have put them, and can't settle down to using just the rest. I am hoping that reading this will loosen up my "forgetter" enough so that it goes "Ah! I remember!".

I'll be back.



P.S. if you want a peak at my (almost) finished room I have posted a picture in the Scumble thread.

06-02-2012, 04:02 PM
interesting selection of ' masters ' .
the Gazilia , Gauguin , Sargent , and Lundberg look most appropriate to topic , with additional considerations of design/composition .
the Church , on my screen , needs to be scrolled down .
> the separate pieces work ( mostly ) ,
but , in one piece , not , compared to the above artists ;
the vista is dramatic , but the sense of ' being there ' has technical distractions ,
among them , edges relating to depth + 'windows of light' thru the clouds .
>> his work is a hallmark for the era , subject , and technique !
>>> it has been examined so thoroughly , especially by illustrators ,
and with consideration to the European Neo-Classical favor/flavor of the time .

i guess i'll have to post some stuff and pry my foot out of my mouth . :rolleyes:

Ed :}

06-02-2012, 04:22 PM
Kitten! What perfect fuzzy soft edges around that little young cat! I love it. Great references and wonderful article this month. Love it. Purr! I have to paint the kitten, if I do nothing else all month I've got to paint that kitten.

06-02-2012, 04:42 PM
Yes, Ed, you gotta show us!

Don, that lake, with the point withe the house, it is starting to look awfully familiar. Though the weather is different every time. (We have a gale, heavy rain, and early spring temperatures right now.... I'd love to be by your lake Ontario now!) Seriously, the edges in your girl make all the difference between a nice painting and one with impact.

Edges are so important, an thankfully there are a number of ways to solve them. I think it is called "counter exhange" (?) when a dark area gets a light one behind it, and a light one gets a dark bg behind it, to underline the edge. Is that term right?

06-03-2012, 02:39 AM
Terrific lessons Don. I started but didn't finish my attempt last month, hopefully I will get one done this month. I love the reference photos!

06-03-2012, 06:18 AM

I attempted the apples in the jars reference picture. My colored jars bear little resemblance to the original, but I wanted to make them cool so they contrasted with the warm apples.


I have never considered the edges of areas before and how they meet other areas, so this was a very interesting project.

I used some daler-rowney, windsor and newton, then finished with unisons, on a yellowy pastelmat ground.



06-03-2012, 11:04 AM
Carol, Thanks for starting us off this month! You have a wonderful variety of edges! Well done!

Charlie, Yes, that tree on Indian Lake has been a ref here on the Spotlight before - in the first Spotlight from February 2010! As I recall, you did a very nice painting of it in a square format!

I wasn't familiar with the term, but James Gurney uses the term "Counterchange" to describe the change of value between an object and the background. Here's a link:


On a similar topic, he coins the term "windmill principle" to describe a painting that has all 4 possible tonal relationships between object and background - light against dark, dark against light, and also light against light, and dark against dark. As we discussed, value contrast is one of the ways that control the appearance of edges - so, a painting that employs all of these value relationships will have edge variety as well!



Some of Everything
06-03-2012, 12:02 PM
Thanks for this lovely lesson again!

I have joined the spotlight for last month and wanted to finish two. I did post the first and only finished the red cardinal two days ago. Couldn't post until now and unfortunately the thread has been closed.
Should I post it here just to show it?

I would love to do at least one this month. Sure I'll learn lots from doing so.

Keep well!

06-03-2012, 12:30 PM
Hi Magda,

At the end of each month, they do close the previous Spotlight, but sure, you can post your Cardinal here this month!


06-03-2012, 02:39 PM
Carol, love how you changed the colours of the jars, the apples do stand out way more this way!

Don, thank you for the term, "counterchange"! (I was sort of close, but no cigar... :-) And the Gurney links!

06-03-2012, 03:54 PM
Don, thank you for the term, "counterchange"! (I was sort of close, but no cigar... :-)

Perhaps close enough to get a cigar, because when I googled "counter exchange art" the fist link was to Gurney's blog!


06-03-2012, 08:26 PM
Carol, your apples look fantastic, what rich coloring! Warm, charming, nice highlighting! I added a stem on the left apple too, it just "missed" something without it.

06-04-2012, 03:38 AM
Meh... I did the apples, I'm sort of happy with them. I didn't keep the deep shadows and strong highlights of the photo, but did lose the edge of the bottom apple. I used a lot of blending on this one, something I haven't really done a lot of in the past, and liked the effect. Critique very welcome, public or private, and be tough, I can handle it.:cool:

06-04-2012, 05:03 AM
Ah, two wonderful Apple paintings! So different too. Carol, love the lost edge of the left jar! NCGirl, love the light in yours! Excellent range of edges in both.

06-04-2012, 09:03 AM
ncgirl, Very nice painting! Nice edge variation and a nice warm color scheme!


06-04-2012, 09:13 AM
Thanks Don and Ruth - I've been doing a little reading on edges. ;)

In reality the two apples "up top" have somewhat softer edges, I think the camera corrected it.

06-04-2012, 09:16 AM
Thank you all (Don, Charlie, ncgirl and Ruthie),

I had fun getting dusty again. I wasn't sure if I would have forgotten all I learned after a 2 month gap. I also found my missing pastels so all is right with the world. :)



06-04-2012, 09:55 AM
Carol, wonderful start in your new art room! Your apple painting is beautiful and a great example of edges.

Ncgirl, lovely light in your painting and lots of great edges too!

06-04-2012, 11:23 AM
Shower here. I'm new to WC, and spotlight. The first Edges was my first Spotlight and I just loved it! Feel like I'm learning tons already! Glad to be here and participate with everyone.

Carol, I love the colors you used and good use of edges

NCGirl, good job, I especially like the forward apple, It really pops of the page.

I did a practice sketch last nite. I'm new to pastels and was trying not to bite off more than I could chew, so to speak, so my drawing may not look as finished as these, but I still wanted to share and plan to do a more complete drawing this month too. I've got limited supplies right now and haven't broke into my Mi Tientes yet, wanted to get some practice in first, but with Don's wonderful spotlights, I may be breaking out the good stuff sooner than later:) Thanks again Don, what a wonderful thing your doing here!

C&C welcome, here to learn, so bring it on...notice the colors look thin, wondering if I'm blending too much, or maybe it's the weak paper, again, trying next one on some better paper.

Here's my drawing:)

06-04-2012, 11:28 AM
Thank you, Don for a very informative lesson on edges. Can you explain why Gauguin outlined his apples in his painting making those edges hard. I think Cezanne also used this technique of outlining. I find it looks 2 dimensional.

06-04-2012, 11:33 AM
Shower, I like your painting! Nice rearrangement of the apples and lovely choice of palette! Very peaceful!

06-04-2012, 02:29 PM
Thanks a lot for your explanantions, Don. They are so helpful!
I love the first three apple pictures - so different, also as far as the edges are concerned.

I am planning to join in. I am still stuck in the middle of the flower from last month.


06-04-2012, 11:28 PM
Shower, Very nice job on the apples painting! Blending can make the colors look thinner and a bit duller than if you don't blend, but I think your painting looks fine!

Eddypus1 wrote: Thank you, Don for a very informative lesson on edges. Can you explain why Gauguin outlined his apples in his painting making those edges hard. I think Cezanne also used this technique of outlining. I find it looks 2 dimensional.

From what I was reading recently, Gauguin was quite influenced by Cezanne, who early in his career did outline a bit more than he did later on. I know many of the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists were also influenced by Japanese woodcuts, which perhaps led to a flatter more outlined style. Perhaps they just liked the way it looked! I know Charlie mentioned that if one stands far enough away, the outlines disappear and the fruit does have volume.

At least in my opinion from what I have seen, many Impressionists and Post-Impressionists liked a flatter, more 2-dimensional looking painting. This is no doubt true in other eras and styles as well. That's why it is good to know techniques for both creating depth and making things look flatter - depending on what one wants to accomplish, or so it seems to me.


06-05-2012, 10:41 AM
Thank you Don for your explanation. I wondered why they outlined and I thought I was missing something in their interpretation.

06-05-2012, 11:17 AM
Eddypus1, The short version is: It was high fashion.

A hint at the longer version: Part of the outlining was ideology. A flat surface should look flat, even if an image was painted on it. Japanese woodcuts are, well, cut into wood, printed, and then coloured or colour printed, so they tend to be flat. So, as the outlines were printed, they were visible.

Starting somewhere around 1850, then leading to the Arts and Crafts movement, Morris, etc, flatness was all the rage, and no wonder linearity came back into popularity, as lines are a great way to enliven flat surfaces. With Art Nouveau, or Jugend, the sinuous lines was really what made it (and the ornaments from nature, flowers etc -- all perfectly flat in paintings).

More or less, off the top of my head.

van Gogh very very often used blue outlines, which actually helps to turn the form as blue recedes.

06-05-2012, 02:10 PM
Hi Spotlighters!!

Hi Don and thank you for your feedback on my painting. I'm a big blender. I've not done much cross hatching or hatching. I think that is a big thing in pastel and I should practice more, am I right?

I worked on the girl from the reference photos yesterday and today. It's not my best, but not my worst either. I've been drawing with pencil and charcoal exclusively until recently. I'm finding color a big jump, much harder. I found a tutorial at WC on color and values and am going to study that today, and I'm working on the old spotlights too.

I didn't capture her likeness to my satisfaction, but for this exercise I left that as secondary. I did want to work on building a form with color and using my edges to that purpose. It was a rough start. I didn't know where to begin. I should perhaps read the spotlight on underpainting again. The colors are all over the place, oh and I took some liberties with the photo. If anyone can see where I went wrong, where I could have gone, anything like that, I will gladly let you rip her apart:) as a matter of fact, I welcome it!

Thanx so much spotlighters!!

06-05-2012, 03:42 PM
Cazza50: Great painting of the apples! ncgirl:Beautiful vibrant colors on the apples! Shower: very soft, subtle colors on the apples-Nice! Wow, Great painting on the portrait!:clap: :clap: :clap:

I decided to do the landscape; first time using my panpastel set and some various soft stick pastels. on uart-600. great ref-Thanks!http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/05-Jun-2012/71359-Spotlite-June-06.05.12.JPG

06-05-2012, 05:11 PM
Charlie, I was hoping you would stop by and fill us in with a little more history and explanation and the outlining! You are, after all, our resident art historian!

Shower, You must be a perfectionist! Because the portrait is very nicely done in all regards! Nothing to be disappointed about! I, too come from a "non-color" background - doing all my portraits when I was younger in pencil. My advice about color...don't worry about it! You seem to have a very natural ability with color. You will learn more about it as you go along, but I all I see here is a very harmonious color scheme and nice skin tones. And nice edges, too!

One area I would blend is the hair where the paper texture is still visible. To my eye, anyway, the texture becomes a noticeably harder edge - or I should say - a few hundred little harder edges! I'm not sure what paper you are using, but if it is Canson Mi-Teintes, then it has a smoother "other" side. Most of us use that "other" side to avoid the texture. But when I do use a textured paper, the first thing I do is blend color (usually a very thin layer) over all those "bumps" to make them disappear!

Really nice job on this!

Tammy, Very nice job on the landscape! Those clouds are especially well done!


06-05-2012, 07:36 PM
Shower, wow! Love, love the portrait! Your jump to color is obviously an easy one, helped along by a lot of hard work and talent!

Tammy, what a nice landscape! Nice soft clouds! Clouds are hard to do.

06-05-2012, 08:56 PM
Shower good job on the apples I love the colours and nice use of edges. I think your portrait is beautiful and really well done. Your drawing ability shows here.
Tvandeb good work on the landscape. None of these challenges is easy this month. As Don mentioned good work on the clouds.

Well I worked on the rainy day. A lot of none edges. I spent time trying to make everything look wet and misty. I had Charlie sitting on my shoulder saying more colour! Then when I finally posted and got it on the computer I realized the last guy is too big!!! I like that it does actually look wet but i should probably have started with a warm underpainting. Not a keeper but an interesting and challenging exersize. I may try and fix the man but may just move on.


06-05-2012, 09:14 PM
Eddypus1, The short version is: It was high fashion.

A hint at the longer version: Part of the outlining was ideology. A flat surface should look flat, even if an image was painted on it. Japanese woodcuts are, well, cut into wood, printed, and then coloured or colour printed, so they tend to be flat. So, as the outlines were printed, they were visible.

Starting somewhere around 1850, then leading to the Arts and Crafts movement, Morris, etc, flatness was all the rage, and no wonder linearity came back into popularity, as lines are a great way to enliven flat surfaces. With Art Nouveau, or Jugend, the sinuous lines was really what made it (and the ornaments from nature, flowers etc -- all perfectly flat in paintings).

More or less, off the top of my head.

van Gogh very very often used blue outlines, which actually helps to turn the form as blue recedes.

Thank you Charlie, I think I'm going to readup on this some more.:)

06-06-2012, 08:12 AM
What a lively discussion in this forum!!! The work done so far is beautiful, each in its own way. Lovely color, edges, blending....ahhhhh!

The discussion of artists, edges, counterchange (a new one for me...) is so timely and informative!

Let me add my 2 cents here, adding what I know about Cezanne, Gaugin, and some of the other Post Impressionist (PI) artists. As a group, they rejected the ethereal, pale or high-key impressionist paintings, and sought more from their own interaction with the subject matter and their oils... and indeed, how they wanted to "express" their art via their own perspective and emotion from the subject.

I think the growth of different kinds of art technique started to really take off in a linear growth fashion during this time. Although we can lump some of these artists as PI's, they each sought slightly different pursuits; but all stemmed for a "rejection" of the airy, light style of the impressionists.

Cezanne and Gaugin wanted to focus on giving their work more mass, impact, and solidity - hence, they worked in brighter colors, focused on composition, and used thicker lines and edges to "ground" their subject matter onto the canvas. Yes, their work looked more 2-d, but it provided a new foray into 3-d perspective...which laid the groundwork for Picasso to invent his own approach to achieve more of a 3-d perspective, i.e., viewing his subject from different angles, and placing all of his views onto one canvas.

Van Gogh, among others, started to also experiment with thicker application of paint, expressive brushstrokes, and more emotional, expressive color. Suerat, and to an extent, Pisarro, concentrated on the qualities of pure color applied as dots, allowing the viewer's eye to meld the colors.

This time period of the Impressionists, PI, Expressionists, Fauves, etc. is most interesting to me, as artists rejected photographic realism, and wanted to make art that was more in line with their own perception and emotions - but concurrently, they also wanted a "relationship" with the viewer via their art.

One can really see this progression with Picasso - he started off brilliantly with incredible classical drawings and realism. Then, he experimented with pushing color, form, composition, and finally, he attempted to represent his subject via linear symbolic lines, infused with a new type of artist's vision and perspective; he attempted to present a "3-D" view of his subject on a 2-D surface, thus giving the future viewer as much information on his subject as possible!

What does this all mean for us as artists today? It's the old "artistic license" moniker...to create art that includes our own vision and purpose, and allows us (if we want) to create an experience - either for our own pleasure, and/or for some form of statement, message and/or interaction with the potential viewer. In other words, art now can be almost anything - a focus on realism, abstraction, color, composition, line,etc. It can also be a personal effort for the artist alone, or carry a message or experience for the potential viewer. No boundaries, no limits. We have these aforementioned pioneers (and others) to thank!

Well, speaking of personal effort, I want to try to get back to trying this months's challenge!
Don, thank you for the wonderfully informative lessons you give along with the challenges - they are the art courses I've needed!:thumbsup:

06-06-2012, 09:01 AM
Tammy: great job on your landscape! and Thanx for commenting on my paintings and for the hand:) (taking a bow)

NCgirl, thank you do much, it's great to be critiqued by fellow artists who know what to look for. Thanx for the encouragement too!!

Jen thank you for commenting and I have to tell you, nice job on the rainy day photo! I tried this one myself and didn't have much luck. Your figures are great too. I find figures hard .*

Don thank you for your comments as well and especially for your constructive criticism. I agree with your advice about the hair I'm just trying to figure out how to go about it now. I read a thread about feathering, I thought of perhaps darkening the background behind her then it would have that same value effect. Anybody have any suggestions?

You scared me with the chosen ref photos Don;) but Thanx for the challenge and the push. I never would have attempted a portrait on my own yet.*

Oh, and I am a perfectionist,but I'm trying to get over it and *loosen up my drawings :)


06-06-2012, 09:03 AM
So much information to absorb – thank you Don and Artcat. I’ll have to reread these lessons a few more times to ensure I get a good grasp of it all.

It’s great to see the different interpretations in everyone’s works. Shower has attempted 2 already!!! Nice work :thumbsup:

I just took a break from my colour based studies to try the hazy rainy day picture. Whilst it’s only a small sketch it was good for me to have a go at subdued colour and blurred edges. I will definitely explore these ideas more in my future studies.


06-06-2012, 03:05 PM
NCgirl, love the glow, and you have varied edges.

Shower, that translucent quality is lovely, and one of the ways to paint with pastels. But yes, if you want a more painterly look, another paper would help. The girl is lovely, and has good edges. You might like the other side of the paper, it has less texture. Not all of us hatch, some use the side of the pastel as a 'broader brush'.

Tammy, nice sharp edges on the house, and soft elsewhere.

Don, thanks, and I'm no proper historian but some of the lessons did stick a bit.

Jen, beautiful wetness! Hm, I think the lady is short, more than the other guy being tall. Oh, no wonder I dreamed I was a raven, not saying "quoth", but "colour"! :-) Beautiful greys, as rainy misty days are!

Artcat, very comprehensive, excellent summary. Looks like we have a real art historian in you! Cézanne worked a lot with making every plane-change a colour change, so their ideas can be used for much more 3D than Monets.

Jayde, great feeling of rain, that kind that has the sun nearly breaking through it.

06-06-2012, 03:51 PM
Catch up time for me after a busy weekend. I have started one but, well, it needs some brushing off :rolleyes: and I really don't think I'll finish it before I go away on Saturday.

Shower, what a pleasure your work is to look at! The Apples are beautifully rounded and the Girl is really well done!

Tammy, first try of the pans? Very nice! I like the way you have made the building the star.

Jen, Hurray for you doing a Spotlight :clap: I agree with Charlie about the Woman maybe not being big enough. But that aside you have really caught the atmosphere. The road looks so wet and the BG is fabulous!

Jayde, another beautifully done wet day scene! A very successful sketch.

Artcat, thanks for you interesting insights. It makes me want to study art history, something about which I am dismally ignorant.

06-06-2012, 08:15 PM
Jade good work on the rainy day. You did a good job of simplifying yet captured the rain with soft edges.

Thanks Shower, Charlie and Ruthie. I did reduce the closest man and took off the head and lowered the man leading the charge. I guess I will have to grow the lady a bit. As I have to rework around them I risk loosing the wet look. Don made me aware that the shadows should be straight under the people because I cropped the picture and the long perspective that made the shadows curve no longer applies. I admit I just copied what I saw with no thought of the shadows being curved by perspective issues. So another thing to think about! Maybe I will just try another spotlight!!:eek:

06-06-2012, 09:48 PM
Jen, Very nice job on the painting of the misty figures! As you mentioned, I sent you a PM about the reflections.

Jayde, Another fine painting of the misty figures! Each figure has softer edges as the recede in the distance - nicely done!


06-07-2012, 07:37 AM
Charlie, you're absolutely correct! I had forgotten that very huge part of Cezanne's technique. He was a master colorists, using temperature and value change to render mass and suggest planal shifts!

06-07-2012, 10:30 AM
Adele, he was, and he inspired people like Sorolla and Hawthorne.

What do you think if this idea? Some of them used lines, especially around the area of interest, as the glazers of old used different thickness of lead in the coloured windows, as the light spreads and a thicker line of lead would to an extent stop the colours from mixing and thus creating a sharper outline? Far-fetched idea, I know, just free association, brainstorming.

06-07-2012, 11:43 AM
Jen and Jayde, nice work on the rainy day! Challenging project and you both did a wonderful interpretation!

06-08-2012, 03:21 AM
Charlie, Ruthie, Jen, Don and ncgirl - thank you for taking the time to comment. Jen it's good to see your take on that pic. It looks like you put a bit more time and effort into yours and your wet reflections are terrific :thumbsup:

06-09-2012, 07:47 AM
I wasn't as familiar with Sorolla and Hawthorne as I was the "major" post-impressionists, but I do think you're correct in that they're part of this "linear progression" group of post-impressionists.
Sorolla was ahead of his time as far as composition goes - in fact, I see many modern "romantic realism" elements to his paintings, and very unique cropping and perspective as well. Yes, he melded the impressionist quest for painting light with the mass and lines of Cezanne and Gaugin- a beautiful melding! I can definitely see deliberate outlines, heavier than needed, to give importance to elements of his composition, as well as enhance it. Some of his bovine paintings (selective paint on the canvas, leaving areas untouches) remind me of the present-day watercolorist, Michael Atkinson.

Hawthorne has elements of Van Gogh's dark, tonal paintings (Portuguese fisherboy) - and he has some illustrative techniques that Norman Rockwell learned while at the Art Academy in NY.

I think our group should definitely check both of these artists out, for they can contribute to our discussion of, and painting of edges. Both artists give such "weight" to their paintings, yet have wonderful lost edges as contrasted to very heavy use of lines or paint. Again, I do think Sorolla is magical and masterful in his work! Thanks for the chat!!!:clap:

06-09-2012, 05:59 PM
What a great lesson from Don, and addendums from others....makes me realize I've been missing a lot in terms of composition using different 'edges'. now I can begin to realize WHY I like a painting....or not...by studying the lights, darks, edges, etc...a whole new eye-opener for me. Thank you, All!

I havent done much in the last month, but did attempt a crop of the apple & jug reference. Took me about 20 min....just a sketch....but I wanted to do SOMEthing...small...7x9. May try it again full size...

06-10-2012, 05:24 AM
Adele, I see it as kind of a tree, branching out from the 'trunk' of Monet into different schools with different takes and directions. Hawthorn's assistant Henry Hensche is quite Monet-like in style, but with much firmer forms (depending on subject).

Judi, lovely lost edge of the jar!

06-10-2012, 09:41 AM
Judy, Thanks for the nice comments! I'm glad that you've found this discussion on edges to be helpful! Nice job on your sketch!


06-10-2012, 11:14 AM
Hi Jayde, great job on the figures in the mist. I like the crop too, the composition.

Judi, that disappearing edge is beautiful, and I have learned something from you. I see how you used the background color on the jar. It's just lovely. I've been reading about this here on WC, and having worked from the same ref photo, it's helped me see how I could improve my own painting and future ones.

Oh another great spotlight, I hope we see many more paintings!!

06-10-2012, 11:47 AM
Judi, nice job on the apple and jar! It's so fun to see the different interpretations of the same photo on this thread, and to catch some interesting art history too! I'm afraid that's one of my weak spots and one that sorely needs improving! A big thanks to all who are taking the time for teaching art as well as creating art!

06-10-2012, 07:37 PM
Judy nice job on the jar and apple.
I did a bit of noodling on my rainy day messed with the figures and the shadows but not sure it helped.
Anyway here is my effort with the lake scene. I can never seem to find the right greens. i really need to get outside and do some painting.
i started with an orangey red that i rubbed in with a damp paper towel. sorry forgot to take a picture. Here is the finish.


06-10-2012, 10:18 PM
Here is the updated Rainy day picture if anyone is interested.
I made the guy out ahead a little shorter the lady's legs a little longer and the guy in green a little smaller and straightened out the shadows. I think I lost some of the wet look. There is still something off in the perspective of the the three people I think.

06-11-2012, 04:49 AM
hav been enjoying looking at all the lovely paintings out here and was waiting to participate....

Carol nice painting of the apples and the jar...you inspired me to try different colours on the jar...

nc girl...like your painting too...such a beautiful sense of light in it...

Shower both your paintings are lovely...

jayde ...your painting has a nice feel of a rainy day...

Jen...nice landscape....and the painting of the rainy day looks even better after the changes...

Judibelle....nice apple and pot painting....


06-11-2012, 05:00 AM
heres my version of the still life...am not too happy with the way the blue jar turned out...looks alittle flat...any help would be appreciated.....


C&C welcome...


06-11-2012, 11:29 AM
Prashanti, such a wonderful painting, beautiful jewel colors, so colorful and sparkling! I love it!

Jen, I still like the rainy day painting, it is a challenging subject. Perspective is hard enough, with people involved, it's downright tricky. Try drawing a line from the VP to the shoulders of the three people, they should line up. I looked at the original photo and the VP seems to be a little above the head of the first person. I could be wrong (probably am) and hope someone more experienced than I will help you.

06-11-2012, 02:47 PM
Hello all! :wave:

Jen: I love your rainy day painting! You really captured that wet drizzly atmosphere. I agree that greens are tough to get right. The problem with pastel sets is the greens they contain are often too oversaturated and lean toward aqua green too much. Probably that's due to the use of the phthalo colors. Remember under all that chlorophyll is the bright reds, oranges and yellows you see in autumn. Those are the undertones for nature's greens...
I once compared real dandelion and lemon tree leaves to different greens in my pastel sets and found Unison Greens #14, #30, and #31 were the closest to an actual leaf color.

Prashanti: Great colors!! I love the lucious reds on the apples and the neutral violet background.

This is my first contribution for this month's spotlight. I did the apples/jugs but took some liberties with the composition and colors. I felt like the original photo had too much empty space on the jugs so I added two more apples. This 9 x 12 on Fabriano Tiziano paper. I also hope to do the lake scene before month's end.


06-12-2012, 01:39 AM
Ncgirl ......thanks for your kind comments...thru it you taught me something...had to look up what jewel colors mean as I didn't know what that really meant..just used those colors on instinct......am relatively new to the world of art ...it's been just above a year now...thanks again...

Jason.....absolutely love your painting.....and thank you for appreciating mine....


06-12-2012, 09:13 AM
Jason, I really like this! Adding more apples is definitely an improvement in the composition! And some really nice edge work - I like the almost lost edge between the apple and the red reflection as well as many others. The edges on the lower lip of the upper part of the jars are both nice as they vary throughout the length of the "line". Nice! Beautifully vibrant colors as well!


06-12-2012, 12:50 PM
Thanks Don! :)

06-12-2012, 03:09 PM
Oops, I sent out PMs to Jen and Prashanti and forgot that I didn't comment in the thread!

Jen, Your landscape is very nicely done! This has a lot of elements, making it a bit more difficult (perhaps) than the other refs! The edges have lots of variety and are well done! The distant row of trees has just enough harder edges to give the impression of trees and trunks, but also lots of softer edges keeping those trees in the distance! To me, this is the sort of distance that is the hardest to do in a landscape and you've done it very well! The main tree has harder edges as one would expect, and the nearby foliage has a nice mix of harder and softer edges! Nicely done!

Prashanti, Your still life is very nice! Good edge work all around! Both your painting and Jason's have a nice subtle touch with the edges of the table - near edge harder, far edge softer. The table isn't a major part of the painting, but those types of subtle edgework make a difference! Nicely done!


06-12-2012, 03:38 PM
working on the rainy walk piece...
the trees are from the watercolor underpainting....need to define them better
and get some of the lamp posts in the distance. Also, this is a bit darker than it actually is...camera phone photo!


06-12-2012, 06:17 PM
Yay more art!

Jen your landscape is beautiful. I love the way your underpainting glows thru . Good edges too:)

On the rainy day, I think it's awesome. I did notice the woman's feet are on the same level as the man, they're walking side by side, but she's shorter. I think your perspective looks fine though. I never noticed.

Parshanti, thank you for your comments and I love your apples. I love the colors and the painting just glows

Jason, nice job, great composition and again it just glows

Soulbro nice painting, from the pic it looks like more ominous weather, but I love it!

Question for all, I notice a few paintings in this spotlight and the last, seem to glow. Is this the type of pastels or a technique? Some apples are so crisp looking and jars like glass ect.*


06-12-2012, 11:19 PM
Thanks a lot Don....

Soulbro ...as always another beautiful painting coming up...cant wit to see the finished version...such a sense of mystery in it....


06-13-2012, 10:03 AM
Soulbro, what an eerie, rainy, mysterious quality you brought to the painting. It evokes such emotion and has a story to tell. You were very successful! I find all of your work very good as well as interesting- and your style is very unique. Well done!

06-13-2012, 01:36 PM
thanks guys for the kind words...here is the finished piece!

06-13-2012, 01:51 PM
Soulbro, I really like your rainy day painting. You have captured the wet so well and the people look so soggy great atmosphere!

Prashanti, nice work on the apples and I really like the colours you chose.

Jason, wonderful work onthe apples. I like the additional apples they are so vibrant!

Don thank you for the encouraging words. It means a lot.

Thanks Prashanti, Shower, Jason, for all the kind words.:)

06-13-2012, 07:33 PM
SoulBro, A wonderfully atmospheric painting with a wide variety of edges! Nice!


06-13-2012, 07:40 PM
Question for all, I notice a few paintings in this spotlight and the last, seem to glow. Is this the type of pastels or a technique? Some apples are so crisp looking and jars like glass etc.*


Well, it's hard to say exactly what glow is and if everyone would define it the same way. I can say that contrast is important and evident in the paintings you mention. Pastels - perhaps more than any other medium - are capable of very intense color. That may be part of it. Placing intense color next to grayed or neutralized color is one type of contrast that can be very effective. So is value contrast, of course. People often ask how to make things look shiny -are there special paints or pastels that need to be used? The usual answer is that shiny is just a very wide value contrast - with very light highlights next to quite dark values. Lessen the value contrast and you will lessen the shine.

These might be some of the things you are seeing.


06-13-2012, 10:58 PM
I tried to do the portrait but made a right mess of it so tried the tulips with a little more success. So here you are the purple is less in fact but it is showing up more here.
9 x 12 mix of pastels.


06-14-2012, 01:14 PM
Wow, I go away for a day or two and you guys are just so busy posting wonderful paintings! It's a joy to look at all of them!

Jason, those apples are fantastic, when I read Shower's post about colors that sparkle, I went back and looked at your painting and said "yup, that's sparkle". The apples have a nice crisp look, the jars are solid and edges are well done.

Jen, I love your tulips, your colors are warm, your background is so gorgeous and soft, I can feel a spring breeze waving these lovely flowers.

SoulBro - how do you do it? One of the most difficult things to represent in any medium is reflection in water, and you have done a fantabulous job! Especially on the left, looks puddly, wet, and well...rainy! Excellent!

06-14-2012, 05:05 PM
Well, it's hard to say exactly what glow is and if everyone would define it the same way. I can say that contrast is important and evident in the paintings you mention. Pastels - perhaps more than any other medium - are capable of very intense color. That may be part of it. Placing intense color next to grayed or neutralized color is one type of contrast that can be very effective. So is value contrast, of course. People often ask how to make things look shiny -are there special paints or pastels that need to be used? The usual answer is that shiny is just a very wide value contrast - with very light highlights next to quite dark values. Lessen the value contrast and you will lessen the shine.

These might be some of the things you are seeing.

Thank you Don. So much to learn. In going back to study those paintings, I think I see now.


06-14-2012, 05:07 PM
Lovely little tulips Jen:) they are jumping off all those soft edges in the background, I think they're swayin in a breeze too.

06-14-2012, 07:32 PM
Jen, Great job on the tulips! And lovely soft edges in the out-of-focus background!


06-15-2012, 07:56 AM
Good morning folks. Just looking at some of the recent paintings posted on this great, informative challenge we have this month.
Jason, you did a great job with value, edges, and surfaces with your color - vibrant against neutrals, warm vs. cool, intense vs. muted. The overall color of the apples and jars is so exciting and used well!

Soulbro, your final painting has a unique quality to it. It reminded me of one of Van Gogh's works, "The Potato Eaters", in it's mystery, the loose strokes, and lost and found edges.

It struck me that in talking about edges, we're not just discussing the outline of a subject - but also, the interior planes as well as the edges on a particular stroke!

You did this on the subjects in the painting, as well as within the strokes of the street and atmosphere; it gave your work dynamic movement as well as evoked a mysterious story! I found my eye jumping around the composition with interest and anticipation. I practically heared the rain pound the street, and expected the pedestrians to start scurrying across the page to get out of the rain. - Wow!!! Nicely done!:clap: - Adele

06-15-2012, 01:34 PM
Hi all Some great paintings this month as usual.
Carol lovely job on the jars and apples. N.C. girl well done on the jars and apples.
shower beautiful work on both the apples and the portrait which was the one i liked best.
Tammy well done on the landscape.
Jen you have been a busy girl this month all three where very well done I liked the rainy scene the best.then the landscape next.
JD great job on the rain scene,it is quite difficult to do but certainly good for lost edge practice.
Judi fantastic apples and jars.
Prashanti great job on the apples and jars.
Jason fantastic work on the apples and jars.
Soul bro. What can I say. Your work is as always astonishing very well done such a terrific wet look .
here's my first attempt this month.

06-15-2012, 05:15 PM
:wave: Hi was not happy with last post made quite a few changes to the eyes nose and mouth. Also forgot to add critique is great.

06-15-2012, 09:01 PM
David, fantastic work! I really like the depth in this portrait and the skin coloring is amazing!

06-15-2012, 11:58 PM
Soulbro - great interpretation of the rainy day scene. Your reflections look very wet indeed.
Jen - I can't believe how many you've done! The soft and hard edges in the flower painting are great!
David - nice job on the portrait. It looks quite labour intensive. How big is it?

06-16-2012, 01:09 AM
Beautiful portrait you have caught her. You molded the face and gave it more contours and defintion in the second version. I like the colours you added too. I will have to try her again but she defeated me yesterday it is not an easy reference.

06-16-2012, 09:46 AM
David, Very nice job on the portrait! Some really nice edge variety, including some nice soft edges on the hairline and the back edges of hair, the jawline and the far edges of her shirt. That hard edge on the nearest point of the sleeve brings it forward beautifully!


06-16-2012, 11:35 AM
Thanks for all the great compliments.NC girl,J.D. Jen, and Don.
Jay de the size is 10"x 8" on uart 600.

06-17-2012, 02:33 AM
SoulBro: Great rainy day painting! I love the looseness of it. You really captured some atmosphere here.

David: The portrait is wonderful! It almost reminds me of the faces you see on Old Masters paintings. Somehow you gave her a look befitting a Velazquez portrait. Very cool...


06-17-2012, 07:28 AM
Oh My! There's some fabulous work on here since I've been away. Congratulations to you all! Looking at your work makes me itch to do one myself. I WILL paint tomorrow!!! Trouble is I have two more Norfolk pieces to do for an exhibition. They must come first.

06-17-2012, 08:15 AM
David, what a beautiful portrait - you've portrayed a Rubinesque classical painting in this work! I love the porcelain quality of the mouth, nose, and lips - quite a difficult subject to conquer!:clap:

06-17-2012, 07:04 PM
Hi all, I spent the last 15 minutes trying to comment on all of the great work posted so far. Kudos to all. Unfortunately, I accidentally erased it all, so I will only give you a really abbreviated version of it. Jen, you have been really busy. Three challenge paintings so far and all done very well. I especially liked the rainy day. SoulBro, loved your rainy day as well. Both caught the essence of the day. Great variety of containers. I believe it was Jason's that especially caught my eye. The contrast is so great that the apples pop off the paper.

Also great job on the two portraits posted. Everyone demonstrated their understanding of the lesson on edges in this month's challenge. Kudos to all.

I'm sorry if I didn't missed anyone.

I have busy this month and haven't been able to work on the spotlight challenge this month. I did finally start work on the containers and hopefully will be able to post it tomorrow.

06-18-2012, 12:42 AM
Jen...your tulip painting looks lovely and the background looks great....

David ...your portrait looks great...love the rosy cheeks....

Don I did make the changes you had mentioned in your PM...thought I should post it.....I darkened the shadow side of the blue pot and also made the edge on the lit up side of the blue pot a little softer...definitely looks a lot more cylindrical now...thanks Don



06-18-2012, 09:33 AM
Jason thanks for the kind comments
Cali I know where you are at with the erasing thing it really tee's me off when i spent 15 mins typing up something just to find out i lost it or forgot to hit the post button.lol.
Thanks Ruthie and Prashanti now of to do another study.

06-18-2012, 09:41 AM
Prashanti,nice finish to the Apples. I like the colours you used for the pots!

I was lucky enough to win some Henri Roché pastels and the company was generous enough to send me extra pieces in several colours. Having read Charlie's review of them in the Pastel Scribbler magazine I decided to try them out first on Canson.

The apples lent themselves to the colours I have so I did them.

This is all done with the Roché pastels except for the highlights which were done with unisons.

I am very afraid to admit that I LOVED the Rochés! Oh dear, must start selling more so I can afford them!

Here it is, about 7.5x7.5 on grey canson, smooth side.


06-18-2012, 10:13 AM
Ruthie..your painting is absolutely gorgeous...love the shine on the wooden table....and the apples look so realistic...


06-18-2012, 11:42 AM
Thank you Prashanti!

Well, another hour and another painting. This time I was trying out my new canson "Touch" paper for the first time. I used rembs, AS, Unison, Giraults and Sennelier on this one. Strange feel to the paper and, to me, it seems to take more kindly to blending than layering. Some of this is blended but the apples are not. It wasn't as much fun as the last one......

About 6.5x9" on lightish greyish blueish canson touch.


From the Artist who is supposed to be completing pieces for an exhibition :rolleyes:

06-18-2012, 02:06 PM
Preshanti, great finish to your apple painting. The pots really turn now.

Ruthie wow two beauties in such a short time! They both just sparkle. Good lost edges and a lot of punch on two small paintings.
Good observations on both products too. Sounds like winning the Dusty didn't do your pocket book any favors, now you will be craving Roche pastels!!

06-18-2012, 03:19 PM
Prashanti, Very nice finish on your painting! The blue pot is definitely rounder now!

Ruth, Two lovely paintings of the apples! Very nice edge-work and everything is very 3-dimensional! I'm curious to try the new Canson Touch paper myself. Still looking for a pastel paper that I really like!


06-18-2012, 04:55 PM
David I loved seeing your portrait! Nicely done.

Parshanti your revisions look great

Ruthie, perfectly executed. I will be craving some of those Roché pastels myself if I can get the same results;)

06-19-2012, 07:54 AM
Prashanti, great lost edge of the pot! It brings the eye back to the center of the composition. great color as well.

Ruth- beautiful renditions. I like your deliberate color strokes - some blended, some not. good use of color and value to define the volume of the apples, and your lost edges keep the eye roving around the painting!

I'm having difficulty with both the lake scene and the jugs/apples. I'm finding that I'm continually adding, blending, and reworking the subjects until I lose the freshness and broken color strokes. I'll try to post what I've done for good C & C - but think I really need to go to some books and demos to copy them for technique's sake at this point, as I'm finding this very frustrating! Will check in later...

06-19-2012, 01:02 PM
Ruth, as always, lovely work on the apples! Sparkling!

06-19-2012, 04:38 PM
Thank you everyone! Don, you should try the canson touch. Not sure it's suited to my technique really but I look forward to doing some experimenting with it.

I did the portrait ref Don has supplied in 2010. I've dug it out. Even then I believe I was becoming aware of edges and their effects and uses.

Just showing so you folks can tell me whether you think I should make any changes. If I have time I'd like to see if I can improve it by the use of different edges but, looking at it, I'm not sure what is needed?

I do know it isn't the best likeness in the world!


06-19-2012, 07:12 PM
Ruth, Well, your 2010 portrait is very lovely and has a lot of beautiful edge treatment! Since many edge decisions are a just a question of preference, it is hard to know what to suggest, if anything! As far as edge work that is needed?...

I really don't see any edges that I would say need changing. Some of the usual edge problems in portraits (at least as far as I know) are:

Where the hairline and forehead meet. This area should almost always be soft edged and yours is!

Making the planes of the face too obvious with edges that are too hard. No problems here. The shadow/light and transitions on the cheek and jaw are excellent and soft and create a nice roundness.

Edges that are too hard away from the face, which is the main focal area. Absolutely no problems here! The edges of the ear are sufficiently soft, as are the neck (nice soft edge there!) the clothing, the near shoulder and the top and back edges of the hair. Some really nice lost edges in spots, too! (And the background is sufficiently soft, of course!)

If you were in the experimental mood, you could soften the far edge of the cheek and/or forehead and see if it recedes a bit more, but I think it might be risky - there might be too many soft edges then, and the painting might become too soft and weak.

Oh, there is one little minor edge issue that I might change - and that is the far eyebrow. I might soften that top edge a little!


06-19-2012, 11:46 PM
Ruthie...that's a stunning painting....can't give suggestions as I haven't ventured into that area yet...looks amazing...


06-20-2012, 04:20 AM
Hi Folks. Sorry I haven't been able to join in this month - it's been busy, but I do keep popping in to have a look at what you are all up to. Some wonderful examples you've come up with, I love the 'wet day' effects and I adore both of Ruthies' apple pictures. All super.
Had time allowed, I was going to have a go at the kitten and I don't recall seeing anyone tackle it yet? I have some of the velour paper which I haven't tried yet, I'm told it's good for animal portraits, so if there's time before the month runs out I'll have a go.
Hope to get back in there before long, meanwhile, back to my list.....

Vivien Maloney
06-20-2012, 02:42 PM
Hi everyone - Wonderful work posted here this month and Ruthie, a beautiful portrait! I don't see anything that needs improvement.

Sue - I've just begun the kitten also. And I'm trying a gouache underwash, so it will be interesting to see how it turns out.

06-20-2012, 02:54 PM
Ruthie: Beautiful apples and beautiful portrait! Well done...

Maybe you can enter the apples in the exhibition. :D

06-20-2012, 03:08 PM
Thanks all, especially Don for the analysis of the edges! I probably wouldn't have ime to work on this anyway so I think I'll leave it be.
Jason, well, we grow Apples in Norfolk so I could get away with it for the Norfolk themed exhibition! If I had frames to fit them , which I haven't.

06-21-2012, 07:49 AM
Hi Ruth - stunning!!! beautiful likeness, soft transitions, and you achieved such a transparent quality to the girl's skin. the only distracting parts are the distant eyebrow, which is both too sharp, as well as too dark (as compared to the one closest). Also, there's a sharper, thicker line under her distant eye. I don't know if it would be difficult at this point to reduce and lighten it, however. Otherwise, I think your painting is amazing!!! Have you posted any of your works in demo/step-wise form? I'd love to see them, if you have any.

I'm still working on my submissions for this month, but as I mentioned earlier, I'm still having difficulty in how to approach pastel without blending into oblivion. So, I followed a demo in a pastel book last night, and loved the finished painting! It took only about an hour, as opposed to me fumbling blindly for 6 hours in doing one of this month's challenges. (Don, could I post both works later to show everyone what I mean, and what the difference is for comments and advice? )

Happy painting, Adele

06-21-2012, 08:39 AM
I'm still working on my submissions for this month, but as I mentioned earlier, I'm still having difficulty in how to approach pastel without blending into oblivion. So, I followed a demo in a pastel book last night, and loved the finished painting! It took only about an hour, as opposed to me fumbling blindly for 6 hours in doing one of this month's challenges. (Don, could I post both works later to show everyone what I mean, and what the difference is for comments and advice? )

Happy painting, Adele

Sure, we would be glad to see both works!

Blending is always a hot topic in pastels! Some do. some do sometimes, some never do! To me, it depends on the paper, type of pastel, and the subject matter! Blending dulls and knocks down the intensity of the color, so if that is necessary, then I blend to my heart's content. But if I need to keep the color intense, I minimize or don't blend. In many ways, the best way to blend is with a harder pastel - letting the pastel itself mix and move the pastel dust. Whether or not, I can find the right color has a lot to do with blending, too. If I have to mix colors to get the correct color, I often have to blend them together. In many cases after blending, I come back with a bit of un-blended color on top to freshen things up!


06-21-2012, 02:37 PM
This is my go at the apples. C & C welcome.


06-21-2012, 05:36 PM
Hi Clea! Nice painting! I like the blend of colours and the flip and the crop! Nice variation of edges too.

More experiments, this time with canson touch and Roché pastels, followed by a spray of spectrafix and then some lights added with unison and schminke. Very impasto finish and I promise the original, though not my best work, looks better than this image.

I'll share a secret....if you spend all your money on Roché pastels you can save by using them on cheaper paper. They were much more fun on the canson MT than the touch.


06-21-2012, 07:22 PM
Oh Clea, I just love your rendition of the apples . When the pic opened up on my itouch the close up just zoomed in at me! Nice.

Ruthie, well, I'm a fan. Nice portrait

Can't wait to see the kittens!!


06-21-2012, 08:04 PM
Clea, good job on the apples. Beautiful colours and good soft edges as well.

Ruthie, you are on a roll. Good work on the landscape and the colours in the reflections really sparkle too. The trees, paticulary the feature middle tree, look great. You will have to sell all those Norfolk paintings to afford those new Roche pastels!

06-21-2012, 08:43 PM
Clea, Thanks for joining us! This is a really nice painting! Lots of edge variety, a nice crop, and wonderful color harmony!

Ruth, I really like this landscape! I did an acrylic painting from this same ref a couple years ago...and I like yours much better! That distance shore not only has a great sense of sunlight shining on it, but enough edges to suggest trees, but soft enough to stay in the distance. Nicely done!


06-22-2012, 10:14 AM
Thanks for your nice comments, Ruthie, Shower, Jen and Don!

Ruthie, you are so versatile and edges are really your topic! All the pictures are so well done. My favourites are the two apple pictures. Pity you can't get them framed for the exhibition.

06-22-2012, 11:22 AM
After seeing all of your stunning artworks I'm sneaking in here in the middle of the night (Australia time) to take a great big breath and humbly add my first attempt at joining in a Spotlight activity thread. Here goes...


Can I just say *thank you* so much Don for such an interesting and thought provoking topic. And to everyone, I have loved looking at your paintings and reading what wonderful words people have to say. I really have learnt so much through this exercise - I shall never think of edges the same way again!

I welcome your feedback and advice. As a newbie, I find it a wonderful opportunity to learn from all of you. Night night, I'd better go to bed now!

06-22-2012, 11:23 AM
Don, thanks for the great advice! It's nuggets like that (working with hard pastels a bit further into the painting process for mixing and broken color...) that I need! OK - so, here are my current WIP for this month's challenge. I'll include a few of the steps, so perhaps y'all can see where I go wrong, over-blend, and lose my values as well as crisp and broken color.

landscape 1


landscape 2 WIP


landscape 3 wiphttp://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/22-Jun-2012/979124-landscape_3_wc.jpg

06-22-2012, 11:30 AM
whoops...got these mixed up. top to bottowm is still life 3, then 4, then 2.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/22-Jun-2012/979124-still_life_3_wc.jpg http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/22-Jun-2012/979124-still_life_4.jpg http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/22-Jun-2012/979124-still_life_2_wc.jpg landscape 4 wip


still life 1http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/22-Jun-2012/979124-still_life_1_wc.jpg

06-22-2012, 11:36 AM
More to go...please give each and every painting your c and c, and help me out with technique. I think part of my problem is that I don't know the qualities of soft pastel - color over color, etc. Also, I know I should be doing value studies prior to painting...trying to skip that step has caused difficulties.

wip - rainy day. blocking in done.

the following painting was done by following Bill Creevy's the Pastel Book's demo of 5 apples. I limited it to 3...and love, love , love the outcome! this one took me only about an hour or two. I liked how color upon color was added upon for the table and edge- he used colors I originally thought were too garish in the under painting. Then, the apples were built up from a base of a roundish dark grayed green. I layered both hard, then soft pastels. OK - so, how do I use what I've learned here into my own renditions from scenes and photos! Any insight? thanks, Adele


06-22-2012, 01:40 PM
I've been sick all week - with who knows what, sniffles and sore throat and such. I'm home today, but still just as sick (toughed it out at work the rest of the week), so I thought I should give one of the spotlights a try. The flowers spoke out to me the most with their happy colours, so flowers it was!

First I started and somewhat blocked with PanPastels after an outline in NuPastels:

Adding details...with my mount visions, of course :)

And all done:

..and because I love looking up close, a detail:


...now back to chicken noodle soup and a nap...:)

c+c welcome

06-22-2012, 06:08 PM
Wow, lot's of nice paintings to comment on!

Kate, Thank you so much for joining us here in the Spotlight! Your portrait is very nicely done! I really like the soft edges of the far side of her face - it gives her face roundness and depth, don't you think! Good edge-work on the hair and other places, too!

Artcat, These are very nice! First let me ask what type of paper these are on - that has a LOT to do with how the pastels will layer (or not)! I know you are looking for some advice on technique, but frankly, that is very difficult to do with pastels. Pastels can be applied in so many ways and different order that probably every artist here does it differently. That said, keep in mind that these are only my opinions.

Your landscape looks good, but I'll agree that it seems over-blended, especially in the last stage (if I'm reading my stages correctly)! Personally, while I know many artist start with a rough drawing of the darks (as it seems you have) I would consider abandoning this stage and try to block-in more solid areas of color. The somewhat dark details will disappear with the next step, in my experience. Don't forget, pastels are opaque!

Of course, it depends on the paper, too. In your apples painting it looks like you are using Canson. Unless you like the little bumps of texture, I would consider using the other "smoother side". Again, just my personal opinion, but in the first stage on Canson I would blend a lot in stage 1 to cover the bumps and have no paper showing. However, the hard part is covering the paper with such a thin coat of pastel that you can still layer on it.

Your finish on the apples is very nice - a very successful work!

The rainy day people painting looks essentially done - and well done - to me! Perhaps a few minor touches to add, but I can't see that much more needs to be done. Absolutely lovely softening edges as we fade into the distance!

Your Creevy copy does look good! If you figure out a way to translate what you can do with a copy into your original works, let me know! I can copy a Pino or Monet and it looks much better than anything I paint that is not a copy. But you might try the same sort of sequence on another version of the apples and jars and see what happens. Lot's of loose diagonal strokes on your Creevy that should work on the apples painting. And if you block in and blend the first layer, then you can leave you strokes looser on top, since the paper is already covered.

Angie, Very nice job on the tulip! And here is something I didn't really talk about but you did splendidly. Your edges where the yellow and red interior colors meet is nice and soft, while the edges of the petal are harder. So the edges that define the form are given more importance than the "color edges" that don't define form. I think that is how it should be!


06-22-2012, 06:45 PM
Thanks so much, Don! Great advice - especially about the paper (yes, it's Canson Mi T.), and ditching the dark undersketch of the landscape and trying blocks of color. Do you recommend just blocking in the local color, or for interest's sake, do initial block-ins in wild colors, but at the correct values (similar to Creery's table top and edge) and then applying broken color more in the local range?

I also have some pumice, and may just make a few fine-sanded papers to start anew! I really appreciate your time and advice from your experience.
Also, I'll hopefully have more time to pursue all of the links you suggested last month...the demos, step-by-step instruction on wc.

Thanks again...I was just about to toss all of the pastels away! (well, not really!)
I'll get back to my easel now - :wave: Adele

06-22-2012, 07:55 PM
Thank you Don!!

I did have a long written out post about everyone's paintings, and then it closed on me - bah!!

So I will say this: everyone did amazing jobs so far, and I can't wait to see the next pieces that will be popping up. I do very much enjoy seeing everyone's different takes on the spotlight pictures - just goes to show that what one artist sees in one way, another will see completely differently!

...on another note, my cold-sniffles-whatever has made me so weak, that I have in fact caved and purchased a set of pastel pencils, a 30 set of remembrants and an 18 set of unisons, along with some colourfix and uart paper (i've currently just been using mi-teintes, and prepared boards with golden pastel ground). It will be a great order when it comes in!

06-22-2012, 07:56 PM
Do you recommend just blocking in the local color, or for interest's sake, do initial block-ins in wild colors, but at the correct values (similar to Creery's table top and edge) and then applying broken color more in the local range?

In all honesty, I am not very adventurous, so my block-ins are almost always the local color. On A paper like Canson - which comes in many colors - you could try different strategies by just choosing different colored papers.

I can't remember if you were with us in February for our Block-in Spotlight, but a few different strategies are discussed, including using a complementary color block-in. Here's a link:


After my initial demos, there are links to a number of other block-in demonstrations by far better artists than me, including monochrome and warm/cool block-ins.


06-22-2012, 07:58 PM
...on another note, my cold-sniffles-whatever has made me so weak, that I have in fact caved and purchased a set of pastel pencils, a 30 set of remembrants and an 18 set of unisons, along with some colourfix and uart paper (i've currently just been using mi-teintes, and prepared boards with golden pastel ground). It will be a great order when it comes in!

Angie, get well soon before you spend even more!!

And have fun with all the new supplies!


06-22-2012, 09:06 PM
hehehe, thanks Don! It's what I get for sitting at home with no desire to do anything very productive....except browse the internet and be tempted by beautiful pastel colours

06-22-2012, 09:12 PM
Thank you very much for your kind words, Don.

I really appreciate your encouragement and look forward to participating in future Spotlight adventures! :-)

CM Neidhofer
06-22-2012, 10:31 PM
Angie, get well soon before you spend even more!!

And have fun with all the new supplies!


Can you send that bug over my way so I can have an excuse to buy some new supplies??!! "I'm so sorry honey...I had a raging fever from an online virus and it made me delirious and I ordered more art supplies......" :D

Vivien Maloney
06-22-2012, 11:21 PM
Well, I've done the kitten - soft pastels - 9in x 12in

I'm not happy with any of it.

As we were looking at edges, this month, I thought I'd abstract my background. But I don't know if it works or not.
My thinking with the kitten was to blur the further away edges, and I used cream pastel instead of white, and use brighter pastels and harder edges for the face, and the foremost leg.
I'm really keen to have comments on this one, so please comment away.

I think I've now got the kitten too fuzzy, as I was trying to show his fluffly fur. What does everyone think?

C & C's welcome

06-22-2012, 11:45 PM
Can you send that bug over my way so I can have an excuse to buy some new supplies??!! "I'm so sorry honey...I had a raging fever from an online virus and it made me delirious and I ordered more art supplies......" :D

LOL....you don't want it: it looked like I was crying every 5 minutes because random smells would set off the tear-works- so embarrassing lol. But the new supplies will be nice. I've got to put out a lot of pastels though, and hopefully sell some through Etsy to make back some of the funds.

Viv: your kitten is adorable and incredibly done, but the background is a little distracting to me. I wonder if it would look better smoothed out, or single tone...I'm not super pro at those sorts of things though lol, so maybe someone with more experience in the animal department can chip in :D

06-23-2012, 05:14 AM
Artcat don't put those pastels down. First on your landscape, I love all of your colors. I'm wondering if you blend the sky if your trees will pop more. *Your lake just sparkles! You might just want to define a focal point with those edges:) just trying to see, I couldn't implement it myself as well as you have here.
Your apples I like the third pic down. I really like this at this stage. *I like the blending more on the ceramic and apples that Give them their smoothness. I like all of your highlights on the pots and the reflection on the wood, and like Don says, it looks like your rainy day scene is done, and well done too!*You really get the effect that the figures are moving into the distant mist.

Katie I'm new to spotlight too. Let me just say you get my vote for best likeness:) you did a great job on the portrait, and I see what Don is saying about your edges helping her cheek and hair turn or recede from us.*

Angie nice tulip. Don is right, harder outer edges define the shape while the softer transition on the inner petals helps the tulip fold in and around itself.*

Vivien your kitten is just precious! Maybe if you just blend and soften the background. Is it hard edges bringing it forward and fighting for the kittens spotlight( oops, pun)? His little behind recedes beautifully, brilliant edge work and adorable kitten ready to pounce!

I enjoyed looking at all of these. It helps to try to comment too, makes you observe more. Hope nobody minds a novice piping in (sheepish grin) *She means well :)*


06-23-2012, 09:54 AM
Vivien, I think your kitty came out very well! I think all your color and edge choices are excellent! As for the background, I think the abstract background works fine - in the places where it is in the background. But perhaps you do need something less abstract where the kitten is standing and coming forward into the foreground, if you know what I mean. Right now, the kitten seems to be floating on the background. I'll send you a PM with a pretty poorly painted-in suggestion!


06-23-2012, 10:58 AM
"Cloudscape I" - 8x10" pastel painting on Canson Mi-Teintes, a grey shade. PanPastels to block, the rest all Mount Visions with the exception of a random Terry Luwig that I have (I might later invest in a set of Terry's lights - it was just what I needed for the last layers)

I kept looking at the lake reference with the clouds, but really only loving the clouds, a lot. So I took major artistic licence, and took everything but the clouds out! This piece was so much fun to do, and in the last few landscapes I had posted to the Gallery, the clouds / skies I always felt were such strong points. Maybe landscapes with majority skies is the way for me? ;)

I'm happy with the clouds, but not with the little bit of foreground I included. I started with it being green like the tree in the picture, but it just didn't work, so I toned it down a lot and now it looks like rocks...any suggestions? I'm not really sure what I'm looking for to change in the foreground, but that it doesn't look super to me.

Also, the pastels I used below, with the exception of the PanPastels and the Nupastel for sketching in:


Vivien Maloney
06-23-2012, 04:57 PM
Many thanks, Shower, Angie and Don for your helpful suggestions. You all hit it spot on, as it was the background that was annoying me.

Don - thanks very much for your PM...it was exactly what I'd thought myself and I'll put your suggestions about the foreground into the painting...it will make all the difference to it.:clap:

Carmel Campbell
06-23-2012, 10:21 PM
Hello, this is my first post in Spotlight. Each month I read Spotlight but failed to complete a piece. This month I have finally done one. I have really enjoyed both of the articles on edges. I got a little lost doing this piece and am not sure I accomplished the edges. Thank you for doing Spotlight and reviewing my work. I love looking at everyone's work. It is very inspiring. I am looking forward to next month!

06-23-2012, 10:40 PM
Carmel, Welcome to the Spotlight! Thanks for joining us! This is a very nice painting! As I mentioned in the edges article, there are many ways to approach edges - so there is no right or wrong way. I'd say this painting has a fair amount of harder edges giving it a very sharp, in-focus look. There's a nice color intensity, too, giving the impression of a strongly lit scene! Everything is very well rendered! There are soft edges, too - including some very nice shadow transitions on the apples and the jars! They are very nicely rounded!


Carmel Campbell
06-24-2012, 02:15 AM
Don, thank you for your comments and your warm welcome! Just after I finished reading your article on edges I read another article by Marvin Mattelson, a portrait artist. He talked about the sharp edges you see in a photograph. I had not really thought about photographs producing sharp edges. Perhaps I need to soften some of those hard edges a little. I would really like to work from a live setup to see if I do soften the edges. Your articles are wondeful. Thank you for going into so much detail :)

06-24-2012, 08:26 AM
Hello pastel pals, first, thank you for the encouragement! I think little "successes" with at least a portion of some of the works posted and identified by you all is very encouraging...for all of us! Good teaching moments, and isn't it a different perspective when seeing our works posted on this site with C & C's from other artists? I'm now able to "see" what to do next on some pieces, as well as where I went wrong. I'll go the next step in trying to finish the apples as well as the landscape with all of your critiques in mind.

Also, I'm trying an experiment - I started 2 more versions of the apple/jug photo. One is with a soft value underpainting with pan pastels, and the second is pushing color, temperature, and value with strokes of hard pastels, intending to build up more broken color and volume, akin to what I did on the 3 green apples.

Finally, I'll be painting one of these upside down to eliminate my left-brain influence! Shower and Don, thanks for encouraging me on!!!

Viv, awwwww, how cute! The kitty's fur is phenomenal - you did catch the softness of her fur, but I also notice some fringed hard edges, which were very well rendered an placed! It's lovely! My only advice would be to push the hind quarters and tail more in the background via a slight addition of more neutralized and lighter color, with smudges here and there, suggesting distance. Then, add a gradation of the background color - even lightening some areas significantly - blend so it looks very out of focus.

Carmel, your apples have such clean, brilliant color and volume! I wanted to grab one off of the page! Did you apply any underpainting, or just place down local color immediately? Would love to see your process, step-by-step! You were also spot-on with the values, and jug renderings and volume. As Don said, the pots were a bit too sharp focus. soften some of the edges on the lighted side of the right pot, a bit on both upper rims, and definitely on the bottom apple's cast shadow onto the pot and table. Also, just a wee bit on the top/back parts of the apples in the jugs. Great job!

OK, back to the drawing (er, pastel) board for me! I'll post when I'm done with my "experiment". Happy painting:wave:

06-24-2012, 10:20 AM
Wow Carmel, I guess this is what they mean about pushing your darks! Your apples look so crisp and your pots like glass!! Beautiful apples! Please do tell your process. I would love to hear what everyone is using for pastel and paper in the spotlights too! I think that would be real helpful to a beginner anyway, Don?:)

Carmel Campbell
06-24-2012, 10:21 AM
ArtCat, thank you. I will take a look at those edges. I just went back and looked at all your pieces. I love the energy in your work. Something I have been trying to develop. More than anything thank you for mentioning Bill Creevy's book. I have it sitting in my library of books. I had forgotten about it. Some cool stuff in it. Now it is next to my easel :)

06-25-2012, 09:58 AM
Hi all,

The work submitted so far has been fantastic! Carmel, I love what you did with the apple/ceramic jug and viv, you have inspired me to do the cat before the end of the month. Angie, I love the colors you used in the clouds.

I finally finished the Apple painting. I started it the beginning of the month but caught up with Plein Air Painting. It is done on Pastelmat paper with predominantly pan pastels and some Sennelier sticks. Size is 11 X 14. Your C&C is much appreciated.

06-25-2012, 12:31 PM
I would love to hear what everyone is using for pastel and paper in the spotlights too! I think that would be real helpful to a beginner anyway, Don?:)

Usually in the "Studio and Gallery" pastel sub-forum, people give the information on paper and pastels used, size, etc. - and if not, people will ask for the info! So, yes, it's a good idea! I'll make sure that I put a little blurb in next month's Spotlight asking people to let us know what materials are used!


06-25-2012, 12:34 PM
Cali, Very nice job on the apples and jars! Nice soft edged shadow/light transitions on the jars especially!


06-26-2012, 09:46 AM
Usually in the "Studio and Gallery" pastel sub-forum, people give the information on paper and pastels used, size, etc. - and if not, people will ask for the info! So, yes, it's a good idea! I'll make sure that I put a little blurb in next month's Spotlight asking people to let us know what materials are used!

:) thx Don for everything you do for spotlight! I'm really enjoying it.

06-26-2012, 03:42 PM
I've been a busy lady today. I wasn't going to let this month go by without completing my second spotlight painting. This is an 8 x 10 painting done on Mi Tientes Touch paper using pan pastels and pastel pencils.

I've been at it most of the day so I have to leave it and perhaps go back tomorrow and touch it up. Your C & C is always wanted. Thanks,

06-26-2012, 03:55 PM
Oh wow Cali he's fur-wo-shish! No he's just terrific. He's got big beautiful fluffy fur and he's on the hunt! He might need to be grounded a bit more though. You must have been all day on that wonderful fur, geesh!

06-26-2012, 04:35 PM
Yes I was! I started this morning around 10:00am and kept at it all day long - working a little and then stepping back. For today though, I am done. Will look at it again tomorrow and add a few things. Thanks,

Carmel Campbell
06-27-2012, 08:46 AM
So soft and fluffy. Pan pastels seem perfect for the fur. :)

06-27-2012, 02:47 PM
Wow, a cat with Cat-ittude! Looking good so far!


Vivien Maloney
06-27-2012, 03:52 PM
Cali - Lovely soft fur, and he looks like a kitten with attitude...well done!
I think, yes, he does need grounded..as did mine. It was difficult because I couldn't make out what the kitten was standing on, so I forgot all about what he was standing on! But I'm sure you'll fix this when you get back to your painting again.

06-27-2012, 06:16 PM
Wow lots of great art come in. will comment later. here is my latest one. I have scrubbed it off and faught with it and now I have run out of time so just to say I did it this is my poor effort on the portrait. Not sure if her nose is too long and her eyes too high and her face is off and well it's a mess !
Not sure if i will get any done next month as the grandbaby arrives next week but I will be lurking and cheering you all on.


06-27-2012, 06:25 PM
Oh wow I am so far behind. Well done everyone. Great job on the cats both of them Calli you are really coming on with your painting. Wonderful apples all of them sorry I can't go back to comment on everyone. Good job on the rainy day i saw a new one. Oh dear I am sorry I saw them all but can't remember who did what but they were all wonderful. I love how many we have had and all the interesting art talk it has all generated. Thank you Don for starting it all.:clap:

06-27-2012, 06:34 PM
Jen, I like your portrait and I think you're almost there. Her chin needs to be pulled back a bit. If you take a straight edge and place it along her profile, the line would be more like a right parenthesis. You would also need to curve the forehead a bit. It is too straight. I hope you don't mind the critique because I think you are almost there. They are easy fixes. Great effort.

06-27-2012, 07:09 PM
Thanks Calli I might have another fiddle with it, it helps to have a fresh set of eyes. I am always glad of CC's

06-28-2012, 09:34 AM
Well, I did a little experiment - both apple paintings are incomplete, and WIP. values and shapes have been roughed in. I did spend a bit more time on the first rendition, and as a result, overworked it and applied too much white.
My aim of this exercise was to see if I could use my right brain more in painting the apples upside down. Although incomplete, I think the second painting (upside down) has a bit better color, value, and proportions. I also completed this stage so much faster than the one painted right side up.
Don, I was intrigued about your experience of the application of pastels actually moving/blending the dust and pigment that was already there. I did this, and found that some nice unexpected blending and color combos occured without me "pre-blending".

So the results??? I think I have to paint from inverted references, and paint upside down for awhile!!!;) C and C welcomed!!!
painting #1 - WIP - painted right side up:


#2 Incomplete/WIP - just roughed in initial colors and values - Paint it upside down

06-28-2012, 09:55 AM
Jen your portrait is not a mess!! Your skin tone is brilliant! The proportions are off a little but I think you see this. I find stepping away for a bit sometimes helps. I hope you can stop by this coming month I think you so fun to have in the spotlight and you paint beautifully.

Artcat, I see what you mean. I love the colors in your upside down painting, though I love both. Do you think it's psychological, i cam see how painting this way takes you away from the pressure of drawing a perfect apple(portrait), or an apple at all as you know it and frees you up to play with shapes and color?

Did you see my new avatar and sig?? I'm settling right in here Thanx to this lovely group of pastelists ( is that a word, ah who cares we're creating here ha, ha, ha!!)

06-28-2012, 12:45 PM
Jen, First off, since the subject this month is edges, I wouldn't worry about the likeness of the portrait at all - that's irrelevant! And you have some nice edge-work! Many closer edges of the head and face are harder and the distant cheek line is nice and soft - so it both recedes and rounds! Same with the sleeve and shirt - harder edges close, softer edges as it recedes!

Artcat, Nice job on both versions of the apples and jars! Interesting experiment - I think the perspective is better on the upside-down version as we see the tops of the jars more straight on. The tops seem a bit too elliptical on the right-side-up version. On the other hand, the bottom apple is floating off the table a bit in version 2 - as the bottom of the apple looks higher than the bottom of the jars!

But all other aspects are looking good! The apples and jars are nicely rounded and a nice variety of edge-work in both! They both look pretty finished to me, too - but I guess I like looser, sketchier paintings! I don't see a lot of unfinished business! Nicely done!


06-28-2012, 12:55 PM
...I can see how painting this way takes you away from the pressure of drawing a perfect apple(portrait), or an apple at all as you know it and frees you up to play with shapes and color?

Shapes - that's what painting is all about! I'm sure everyone has heard the advice somewhere along the line - "Don't paint thngs, paint shapes!"

That's the basis for many books on drawing and painting - learning how to paint the shapes you see rather than the "things" that your brain already has stored away as symbols for tree, table, face, body, rock, etc....

I know that many people ask "How do I paint water, or glass, or metal objects, or rocks, or clouds," etc. The answer is always the same - observe the shapes of color/value that you see and try to reproduce them!

Easier said than done! So, exercises such as painting upside down are a good way to "forget" about the things and better observe the shapes.

Hmmm....maybe a future Spotlight idea....


Vivien Maloney
06-28-2012, 03:22 PM
Jen - your portrait is not a mess at all! You've got some lovely stuff going on there.

Shower - I checked out your Avatar. Is that a Jack Russell you have in your painting? He looks just like mine when he's curled up in his bed...which isnt very often, even at 15years old "Drum" is still very active.
With your apple paintings, I like your upside down version best. Yes it's good thinking to try the upside down painting thing...but I always keep trying to turn the ref photo around to see it properly...not the idea at all!

Don - Thanks very much for Hosting your wonderful Spotlights. I don't always get time to participate but have learnt so much from them.
You do an amazing job of each one! Thank you.

06-28-2012, 06:47 PM
Hey Viv,

Yep that's my little Jack. My "Noodles" has never been your typical Jack Russell, not exactly the bouncy type, more the snugly type. He's an angel though and smart as a whip:) and Thanx for checking it out.

And to keep this on topic and not get in trouble with Don, I found this today. I thought it was another good example of edges. I thought of our spotlight as soon as I saw it.

Henri Matisse "Still Life with Black Knife"

06-28-2012, 08:32 PM
Oh, I LOVE that painting. What a lovely example - thanks for sharing!

06-28-2012, 08:45 PM
Yes, very nice example of edge variety! I'm not that knowledgeable about Matisse, but would guess this is an early work. Check out the differences in edges between the important items on the table and the door and other things in the distance!


06-29-2012, 12:25 AM
Thanks guys for your encouragement. Well baby came last night a little early and so I am now in Texas! Dashed down first thing this morning. Baby boy weighed in at 8lbs 5ozs, 20 1/2" all doing well. Big brother so far excited all finally quiet and sleeping. One pooped granny finally getting a cuppa!

06-29-2012, 05:31 AM
Congratulations Granny, what wonderful news! Hope you enjoyed your cup of tea. :-)

06-29-2012, 06:39 AM
Very good comments and examples for this challenge (and beautiful news about the new baby - congratulations!).
Yes, Don, I saw the floating apple...actually, it's the right jug that I didn't yet correct - I was going to render/shape the jug base a bit more with the table color, but didn't want to work on it any further. My goal was to stop at a certain point to see if there was a difference between the two paintings.

There was, at least in the respect of time and accuracy. I spent about 2-3 hours on the top (right side up) painting, and found I got "lost" in the minutia of color, temp, edges, etc. Spent about 40 minutes on the upside down painting (second one).

So, for me, the left brain is quite a problem!!! In doing the upside down painting, the "familiarity" of the subject matter was all but gone - I just saw shapes, colors, temperature, and texture. It was sooooo much easier! a few more strokes, and this second rendering would have been completed.

So, I thought most of my problems with learning how to use pastels was in the technical application...yes, I still need to practice and learn those techniques. However, the main issue is my left brain, and learning to rely more on the right!!!

Yes, I agree that "shapes" would be a good challenge topic!!!

And finally, for those of you brave enough to tackle the portrait...well done!!!!:clap:

06-29-2012, 01:24 PM
Sorry I've been absent a while....and I apologize for not commenting on all...everyone HAS done a FABulous job!
i'm gettin' in just under the wire....first time I've had a chance to get to my pastels in weeks! Couldnt resist the lake scene....

9x12 on canson paper, using assorted softies.

CM Neidhofer
06-29-2012, 02:12 PM
Thanks guys for your encouragement. Well baby came last night a little early and so I am now in Texas! Dashed down first thing this morning. Baby boy weighed in at 8lbs 5ozs, 20 1/2" all doing well. Big brother so far excited all finally quiet and sleeping. One pooped granny finally getting a cuppa!

Congratulations, Jen!

06-29-2012, 07:08 PM
Judi, Glad you were able to get one more painting in! Nice job!

And here is this month's thumbnail gallery! Remember, feel free to post any paintings you are still finishing today and tomorrow! I hope I didn't miss anyone!


Once again, great work everybody!:clap: :clap: :clap:


CM Neidhofer
06-30-2012, 01:41 AM
I just started yesterday! Didn't quite make the deadline, but I'll post it when it's finished. Too much going on this past month. Everyone's work is wonderful! I'm sorry I missed out this time.

06-30-2012, 11:54 AM
Thanks Don for this months lesson and putting up this beautiful gallery.....

Looking forward to the next spotlight....


06-30-2012, 12:55 PM
Don, great gallery and wonderful lesson. I haven't finished the kitty but will keep this lesson in mind as I work. I hope you challenge us even more next month!

Carmel Campbell
06-30-2012, 01:42 PM
Don, thank you so much for posting the gallery. I am looking forward to June.
I am glad I stopped watching and joined in. You do a super job!! :clap:

06-30-2012, 01:56 PM
Thanks everybody for all the nice comments! I really appreciate it!


06-30-2012, 03:37 PM
What another wonderful gallery!! Thanks for putting it together Don and for an excellent lesson. Great comments and advice everyone :)

06-30-2012, 06:29 PM
Thanks Don for the great gallery and this last months lesson. Will at least lurk through this next months lesson. Hope to get another one in too.

06-30-2012, 10:20 PM
Oh my, this is the first time I've seen the "thumb nail" gallery - it is amazing! Thank you so much for this wonderful lesson Don. I can't wait until the next lesson appears on my screen! :-)