View Full Version : The Spotlight - December 2013 - Happy Holidays

11-30-2013, 08:17 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 were taken by me or are from the Reference Image Library. 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 is on…Happy Holidays 2013!

December is a busy month for most folks. Preparing for the holidays - cooking, cleaning, traveling, shopping - leaving little time for painting. So, no lesson or theme this month! Just my wish to all of you - Have a Happy Holiday! :clap:

I've gone through all the photos I took this past year and picked out a few that I thought might work well as reference photos. Here they are - I hope you like them and they inspire some beautiful paintings!







As always, feel free to modify, rearrange and/or crop the references.

Enjoy...and Happy Holidays to everyone!


11-30-2013, 09:10 PM
Thank you! Love the references, looks like my pick of holidays! "Summer Vacation," "Beltaine/May Day," "Duck Season" "Cranberry Festival..." Theyre all great! Sorry, just getting silly. Love that gorgeous male mallard. He's tempting, I'd love to have another go at "iridescent blue-green head" and see if I can get that shimmer.

12-01-2013, 03:10 PM
Thank you, Don. As always, your picture choices are spectacular! Didn't do anything for the spotlight last month, but I'm eyeing that first one, my favorite color palette.
Robert, maybe your metallic pans will work for the mallard.

12-01-2013, 07:15 PM
Thanks Don for some really beautiful references. Hoping i will have time for at least one.

12-01-2013, 11:12 PM
Thank you Don, wonderful photos as always! I wish you and yours Happy Holidays too! :)

12-02-2013, 12:47 AM
Peg, what a wicked thought! He would be a good example of "mixed metallic colors!" Maybe bright gold with pthalo green and blue, then bronze with pthalo green and blue... I might have to do some tests! Might crop him too if that's the focus of the painting.

12-02-2013, 08:18 PM
Wow! You have some very good selections this time. There are a couple of them that are quite tempting. I'm just trying to see if I'll pick the easiest one, or the one I REALLY want to do! :-D

Is that last picture cranberries or mayhaws? I'm liking that one, and I think I could do it, but I agree with Peg, that first one is looking very tempting with its particular colors. I think I'd take out the houses though. I love nature, and I tend to make things look older or more natural than the original pictures. :-)

Thank you for the start!

12-02-2013, 09:40 PM
Thanks, all, for the nice comments!

Is that last picture cranberries or mayhaws? I'm liking that one, and I think I could do it, but I agree with Peg, that first one is looking very tempting with its particular colors. I think I'd take out the houses though. I love nature, and I tend to make things look older or more natural than the original pictures. :-)

I have no idea what type of berries those are. If anyone does, please chime in!

I, too, often remove houses and other man made features from my landscapes. Sometimes they work well if they are a focal point - or help show the scale of things, but usually they are taken out!


12-03-2013, 11:13 AM
keepingpure, I'm the same way. When I do landscapes I want the feeling of the wilderness without any human presence. Like I'm the first one there in this awesome place, not like I'm going to check in at the motel or stop at the campground with its rules or even visit whoever owns the land. I don't usually put figures in landscapes either, though animals are different.

If I put in a building, it's going to be the focal point. Too many teachers have told me the figure or building is the main interest in a scene. It's personal taste, but I don't want to put in ordinary buildings. If I do put the building in, it's likely to be an old barn or ancient farmhouse, not something contemporary. Same with people dressed in normal contemporary clothing.

Hm... maybe a fun thing to do would be to hunt down another reference and just change out the house for one that I think is cool enough to belong in one of my paintings. Grab one of Lin Goodwin's references from the Oil Pastels forum photos thread and put a thatch cottage into the spotlight. I have to actually like the building as a subject to do that.

And that's only now that I've started getting some practice with buildings. For a long time I also left out buildings because they were too hard versus mountains, trees, rocks and animals! Moving back to SF cured me of "buildings phobia," the buildings are all worth sketching. If they're not pretty in themselves, someone did a mural on it.

12-08-2013, 01:59 PM
I think, not sure, they may be crab apples. Just a guess. Don't hold it against me if they are not.

12-14-2013, 08:23 PM
Well I had a window to finally try one of these. Between ice and Christmas frenzy I guess everyone is having difficulty finding time for art this month.
I did an under painting in orange nu pastel and most of the orange that shows is that.
Approx7x12 various pastels.


12-15-2013, 03:06 AM
Jen, I love this! You really nailed the sense of calm in the ref. the colours are great and the orange showing through is a lovely touch!

12-15-2013, 05:06 AM
Very good Jen. I too like the orange coming through and gives the whole a tranquil feeling.:thumbsup::wave: Yes not much time to paint this month.

I have tried to eat crab apples as a kid and I don't ever recall them getting red - sour was the order of the day as I recall. Cranberries are on vines or very low bushes and I think they do not have such long stems. May-haw is the closest I think.

12-15-2013, 08:29 AM
Jen, This is beautiful! Lovely subtleties in the colors and a nice sense of luminosity!


12-15-2013, 08:35 AM
I have tried to eat crab apples as a kid and I don't ever recall them getting red - sour was the order of the day as I recall. Cranberries are on vines or very low bushes and I think they do not have such long stems. May-haw is the closest I think.
These are definitely smaller than crab apples - some sort of cherry or berry that is growing on a tree. The fruit is a little smaller than the cherries I buy in the grocery store! We have a few different types of cherry/berry trees where I live, but I think it is similar to this one:



12-15-2013, 11:50 AM
Ruthie, Jim and Don, thank you for the encouraging words. I think i am done until the New Year! So Merry Christmas and a healthy and creative New Year!

12-15-2013, 09:41 PM
Thank you Jen.:)
Best wishes to everyone.
Let's hope it is a peaceful new year although I have serious doubts if it's left to our leaders.:(

12-16-2013, 02:17 PM
Jen, the painting is beautiful. This reference caught my eye, too, but I just don't seem to have the time to do it.....I know, excuses...excuses....

12-17-2013, 07:46 PM
Beautiful job, Jen! I still haven't had the opportunity to do one of these yet, but I have done four other paintings working on different techniques. I'm hoping to put them up, but our internet has been pitching fits, and this is the first time I've been able to get on since my last post!

I hope to catch up with everyone soon! Have a very Merry Christmas everyone!

12-21-2013, 03:10 PM
This is my first attempt at pastels and I'm relatively happy with the end result. Still need to work out how to do the background edges around the subject, and cover the paper so that the texture is not visible.
Practice, practice, practice ;)

12-21-2013, 04:47 PM
Hi Tasha! Welcome to the Spotlight! Well, this is super for a first pastel! You must be experienced in other mediums. Let us know what paper you are using. If it is Canson Mi-teintes, then you might want to turn it over and use the smoother side. That's what most pastel artists do to avoid that texture!


12-21-2013, 10:09 PM
Tasha, beautiful!

12-22-2013, 03:45 AM

Yes it is Canson Mi-teintes - I'll definitely try working on the less textured side, thank you for the tip :)

I've played around with a few different mediums and recently discovered pastels, and I must say I am totally hooked on them.

12-28-2013, 08:48 AM
Hi all!

Thank you for the beautiful ref pictures! This is my first attempt on Spotlight! :)

I hope you like this landscape I just made in Sennelier pastels on a piece of drawing paper (!), even it's kind of sloppy!

Happy Holidays everyone! :)

12-28-2013, 01:17 PM
Beautiful, Penny. I love the glowing sky colors.

12-28-2013, 03:55 PM
Jen, love your flashes of orange in the landscape. Thanks for mentioning that's the underpainting coming through, it worked so well!

Tasha, wow, love those detailed fruits. Nice smooth textures in the background. It's tricky getting a smooth texture right up to hard edged forms, but it can be done. Sometimes breaking a stick to give a sharp edge to run up against the hard edge works, sometimes using a color shaper to push color around can help with margins. Or the corners of square sticks can tuck into very small areas.

Finally, there's working the background first and very slightly going over the outlines, then lifting out with a kneaded eraser just to the edge before painting the hard edged detail. There's different ways to do it and it varies. Sometimes an underpainting helps if you're using a watercolor paper or do a dry underpainting by blending in all the smooth areas of color before detailing.

Penna, your version of the landscape is serene and lovely. It seems to have a slightly different light, like a few minutes later - very luminous and atmospheric. Well done!

12-28-2013, 04:10 PM
Peg, Robert, thank you for your words! I am not very good at picking colours yet, but I intend to practice more! :)

12-28-2013, 04:39 PM
Hi Penny, Welcome to the Spotlight!

Wow, I love those sky colors! Nicely done!


12-28-2013, 08:45 PM
Better late than never! It's crazy to do my Spotlight this late in the month - but it knocks out one of my other goals too. I finally did something cool with my Metallic Pan Pastels!

Shimmering Male Mallard
5" x 7"
Pan Pastels including Metallic Pan Pastels
Yellow ClaireFontaine PastelMat
Photo reference by DAK723 for December 2013 Spotlight

I will put a little more detail into what I did with it on the Pan Pastels thread, where it's more relevant. I took photos with stages.

12-28-2013, 11:38 PM
Hi Robert, your duck shimmers fine with those pastels. :thumbsup:

12-29-2013, 08:40 PM
Robert, I thought your metallics might look good on the mallard and they do....great job!

12-29-2013, 10:05 PM
Robert, Nicely done! Love the modelling on the wing and the reflected light!


12-30-2013, 12:40 AM
Purr! Thank you! I have him up on the wall now and he looks even better in a mat. I used a dark green to set him off and now that he's across the room, he glimmers and shines so great!

I need to do more Pans paintings. Definitely. It's so easy to set up and I found my PastelMat pad again - that was a biggie in itself!

12-30-2013, 12:46 PM
This is the only piece I have managed to work up in December. I really wanted to send my best wishes for 2014 to all my friends ... I would like to raise my glass to you all!
Pans & pencil on AS Colourfix, approx 12-1/2 x 9-1/2"

12-30-2013, 05:57 PM
Hello everyone! I've been floating around here this month without posting much because our internet would not allow it. Now it seems to be okay, so here I am!

Tasha, I loved, loved, LOVED the picture of the mayhaws! I did noticed you uised white paper. The background edges might not be as noticeable if you were to use soft blue, or some other colored paper that wasn't quite so bright. At least, that was my thought. You really got the mayhaws to "pop"! Great job!

Penny, the part I loved most about your picture was the sky colors. I tend to have problems picking out my colors too. I love the smoothness of my Sennelier pastels, but I have a problem with them filling the paper too quickly. You did an amazing job though!

Robert, what can I say but WOW! Amazing results with those metalic Pan Pastels! How do you like using the ClaireFontaine Pastel mat? I'm looking to explore more with different papers.

Linetta, Incredible array of colors. I'm a sucker for good color blending and tones, and your selection gave me chill bumps!

Here is my December Spotlight. Not the one I initially selected, but I thought I'd choose the "most unlikely" picture to do. It's not exactly like the picture, but hey! Don't we use pictures for "reference" only? :rolleyes:

"New Life"

12-30-2013, 07:40 PM
Linette what a lovely 'sloshed glass' that is - all weak at the knees and falling over :lol: well done :thumbsup:. I was tempted to add 'I know the feeling' but maybe better left unsaid :angel:.

Rebecca. Yes reference only and alter it at will to suit your purpose. So you did just that. I suppose it's my next step - I only take baby ones you see! :lol:
Anyway it was successful and is a good start. Just keep at it and you'll make good progress.:wave: Don't let little sister get in the way this time :)

12-30-2013, 07:52 PM
Linetta, I love it! That's hilarious! Light, bright, well painted and jolly. Love that wiped-out glass and you kept the glass effects perfect. The bubbles and pearls and streamers are glorious iridescence. The background's like undulating chocolate, it's a total indulgence.

Rebecca, I love the feel of yours. Yes, you changed the reference dramatically, that's what it's for. Inspiration. Beautiful painting, very concise and atmospheric. Has a gorgeous mood. Love those knobbly stems and bright small flowers.

12-31-2013, 12:18 PM
Rebecca, Jim, and Robert: Thank you all so much! Robert, your description paints a wonderful picture all by itself! I must say this pretty much did itself and I was having such fun that it was finished before I knew it. I did not have even one serious thought the whole time.

12-31-2013, 12:21 PM
Rebecca, I really appreciate your "New Life" and being able to put your own feelings and interpretation in art is a huge advantage, in my opinion. Now, I am eager for spring buds though and it is way early for spring fever.

12-31-2013, 02:51 PM
Linetta, Fun painting!!

Rebecca, Very nice! You've captured the "starkness" of the buds and branches!


01-01-2014, 12:49 AM
@Robert - thank you for the advice. I didn't know that I could do a watercolour underpainting, and I will definitely keep it in mind for my next attempt :)

@Rebecca - I didn't realize that the choice of paper colour could affect my drawing. Of course in hindsight it makes sense ;) Thank you for steering me in the right direction :)