View Full Version : The Spotlight - December 2014 - Happy Holidays 2014

11-30-2014, 07:34 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 2014!

It's a busy time of year for almost everyone! Lot's of things to do and so little time - especially for painting! So, keeping that in mind, we won't be having any lesson or theme this month. As a little Holiday gift to all who participate in the Spotlight, I offer a few references of some of my best photos from 2014. I hope they inspire some paintings - either this month or some time in the future!







To everyone - I wish you all a happy and safe Holiday Season!


11-30-2014, 07:51 PM
I LOVE the Canada Geese. :-)

11-30-2014, 09:16 PM
These are lovely photos, Don!

12-01-2014, 01:04 AM
Wonderful photos! Thank you Don :)

12-01-2014, 05:27 AM
Such beautiful photographs Don. Thank you.

12-01-2014, 01:03 PM
These are so beautiful, Don! I feel like you were thinking of me, putting in those flowers. Love the Canada geese and landscapes. So much to choose from! I'll do at least one. Wow that iris. I love irises.

12-01-2014, 01:08 PM
Thanks, Don. As we head into December, this New Yorker likes the spring and summer photos. :)

12-01-2014, 04:49 PM
I love them all. I can't imagine to paint any of them, but I love them all :D

Tempting, so tempting :D
Thank you.

12-01-2014, 08:11 PM
Happy Holidays indeed! Looks like a nice relaxed spotlight to counter balance the holiday frenzy! Thanks again for your time in preparing and monitoring the thread Don!

12-01-2014, 10:05 PM
Thanks, Don. As we head into December, this New Yorker likes the spring and summer photos. :)
Yes, you'll notice - no snow and ice photos!

Thanks everyone for your nice comments!


12-03-2014, 11:08 AM
Hi, everyone! Come on, can we all really resist Christmas images?:)
5˝ x 8˝ on Canson sketch paper, using mainly Terrages and homemade pastels that have pumice. Both work great on smooth paper. I chose Don's photo of the goose because it reminded me of the wooden goose Christmas ornament I hang on my tree. That, and other cat-safe ornaments such as felt elves, a metal airplane and various other unbreakable ornaments are hung on the lower branches of the tree. The cats understand they are toys, and I have to put them back on the tree every morning but find them scattered over the house for months after Christmas. So here is my Christmas goose!:lol: I'm afraid he looks a little large, huge, really, for the tree, but I had lots of fun painting him.


12-03-2014, 09:28 PM
Blayne, Lovely painting! Great example of how a reference photo can be the starting point for something that ends up quite different!


12-03-2014, 09:52 PM
Thank you, Don! I'm glad you didn't mind the artistic license I took with your lovely photo. Painting it brought back many fun Christmas memories!

12-04-2014, 06:24 PM
What a great idea Blayne, to take the reference and turn it into something meaningful for you. I love your idea. Very clever. Your painting is charming...wonderful goose.

12-05-2014, 07:23 AM
Thank you so much, Jay! At this time of year, that goose belonged on my tree!

12-08-2014, 12:37 PM
So, Don, next month what about you posting photos of things within my capability to paint? Like simple cubes, orbs and cones, perhaps. In primary colors. And light them from all sides equally so that no color differentiation will be required.:lol:

This is my ATTEMPT to destroy--er, paint--the lovely tulips you posted. The tulips you photographed were likely three-dimensional but, hey, do we really need all those dimensions? In these times of economic uncertainty, many of us have to make do with only two dimensions. And make do with fugitive pastels that look quite uniformly pink, orange or yellow until photographed and then develop mysterious dark streaks.

This is 8" x 10", using mostly Terrages on sketch paper. (I can't help it--I really like to work on a smooth surface and, trust me, tooth wasn't the real problem here.:lol: ) Thanks for looking! C&C or plain guffaws, if you can't type for holding your sides laughing, will suffice.


12-08-2014, 02:35 PM
:D :D :D :D :D :D

They are perfect, Blayne!
And so are you :)

12-08-2014, 02:46 PM
Blayne, I don't know, we must be looking at different paintings, because your's sure looks good! The tulips - and the petals especially - are quite 3-dimensional! Very lovely!


12-08-2014, 02:47 PM
Blayne. Really? These could not be prettier! They have movement, rhythm, life, personality, color variety and oh yes, they are well drawn. The sheet is well designed, the colors complimentary. And you are saying they are...what? An attempt? Oh. Then, please try again.

12-08-2014, 02:55 PM
Then, please try again.

But Blayne, don't weave them into a Christmas tree this time :lol:

On second thought... I bet your story behind that would be rich and colorful :D

12-08-2014, 05:01 PM
Aww, you guys are just too nice! I'm scheduling an eye appointment! I just couldn't get detail on the flowers, and then that dirty color shows up in the photograph! But, gosh, thank you all for your kind words--"perfect," "three-dimensional," with "movement, rhythm, life, personality, color variety...well drawn... well designed, the colors complimentary." Your compliments are much nicer than I could have hoped for and still suspect I don't deserve! (However, Nick, I see all those guffaws. You can stop holding your sides now. That is a good idea to try again and weave the tulips into a Christmas tree--behind a large goose, or disguised as exploding Christmas tree lights:lol:.)

BTW it's pretty lonely here in the Spotlight! Somebody better post some paintings soon, before I'm forced to try that deer. I would hate to be arrested for killing a deer weeks after the deer hunting season here has ended!

12-08-2014, 05:45 PM
Blayne, your tulips great! Personally, I think you could weave them as a wreath around the goose's neck :) Will be awhile before I post, not only the holiday crush, but yet another storm coming tomorrow, into Wed and then "something else" on Thurs. I'll be busy shoveling, I guess.

12-08-2014, 07:33 PM
Thanks, Peg! And a wreath for the goose would be simply smashing!

Snow shoveling--no fun at all! I sweep mine, with a broom. It's much easier. But I'm looking seriously at those cordless snow blowers (can't stand fumes from the gas ones, and usually not strong enough to pull the cord to start them). I have a cordless lawnmower I've had for over 20 years and love it, so I'm just waiting until they get the kinks worked out of those snow blowers--usually a few years after something comes on the market, they improve it. Thanks again, and good luck with your "something else" weather!

water girl
12-09-2014, 01:33 PM
Blayne! Outstanding! These are so beautifully vibrant, three dimensional in an abstract way, and displaying gentle movement. You really have outdone yourself! :thumbsup:

12-10-2014, 09:50 PM
Thank you so much, Karen, for wandering over here and for your very nice compliments! But now you've got me scratching my head--you said they are "three dimensional in an abstract way." Now, how the heck did I do that? I might want to do it again! :lol:

12-11-2014, 12:24 PM
Well, ssh, don't tell the game warden but I've got a deer in my meadow. I won't shoot her, although I've done serious damage with pastels! I tried to follow Don's photo but changed her ears to that upright, alert look. This is really a WIP, so fire away (at me, not the deer). I'm posting in order to get suggestions and to take a break for lunch and a nap, of course. I know I need more work on the deer. What else? It's an overcast day, so no dark shadows across the snow. Thanks for looking!

9" x 12" on stone paper, using Terrages and TLs mostly. Incidentally, the stone paper was marked down from nearly $40 to about $6 on Amazon for 10 sheets of 28" x 40" paper. It's very thin, about like computer paper, but that worked OK. I just wanted to try it out, and I like it. The surface feels almost smooth but holds layers well. SpectraFix add tooth or, if sprayed heavily, blends colors like a watercolor wash, and doesn't buckle at all. Fun to play with!


12-11-2014, 01:11 PM
I really really love this. It has a very special feel of being in a place humans don't get to go. Silent, cold, we get to spy on wildlife activities. This is great.

12-11-2014, 01:29 PM
Thank you so very much, Jay! My back meadow is pretty safe for the deer, surrounded as it is by wooded acres. I didn't even hear gun shots this year during deer season. No suggestions to improve the painting? I may get brave and cross-post in the Gallery.

12-11-2014, 01:56 PM
Blayne, you are saving this thread! :)
I like the atmosphere of the painting. And I love the red plants/rosehips (?) in the foreground.
Well done! :)

12-11-2014, 04:16 PM
Thanks, Nick! I'm glad you like the atmosphere. If I do enough snow paintings, maybe it will keep away the real stuff! The red plants are figs--figments of my imagination, that is.: lol: There are tall weeds in the meadow, though, that stick up through snow. I thought the red color would complement the green trees.

As for saving the thread, Nature may abhor a vacuum--but nowhere near as much as I do. You should see my carpet.: lol: Really, though, you are going to have to pitch in and do your share. Please? Don is saying, "Pretty please?" because my attempts at humor are causing his eyes to roll so far up into his head that he can't see to paint.

12-11-2014, 04:17 PM

12-11-2014, 06:43 PM
Blayne, Wonderful painting! Not only is the deer nicely done, but those snow-covered trees are just great! What a beautiful winter scene!


12-11-2014, 09:55 PM
Blayne Well you are a one man band this month. Well done!:clap: They are all great but I think I like the deer best he is so sweet peering out from the trees in the snow. You have captured the snow on the trees very well too. I think the tulips are very bright and 3D, No rubbish here!

I have been travelling and not able to do much of anything art wise but today I had a go at this one. Not perfect for sure I needed some darker green pastels but didn't want to get them all out. So a somewhat limited pallet. It was fun and fast.
5x7 on U art paper


12-12-2014, 05:22 AM
Blayne, I'm just sitting here with the giggles. You are too funny.

Jen, I love the loose landscape. One of those days when you can almost see the wind sweeping across the clouds. Nicely done.

12-12-2014, 06:45 AM
Thanks, Don! Thanks, Jen! I really want to get that deer looking better and have been working on it. Right now, it's looking like one of those plastic lawn ornaments.:(

Jen, your sunset is gorgeous! Like you, I was struck with that band of purple in the grasses in Don's photo and wondered what I could do with it. You've done a beautiful job! I love that lavender color and the deep greens of the trees. And the sky just glows!

Jay, glad I can add some giggles! And, since I've been blissfully absolved of Christmas dinner duties this year (Yay!), I've had time to paint and the carefree mindset to dazzle all with my sparkling wit! (Wait--do I hear groans?) Don't be surprised if Don decides to close the thread early this month--holiday pressures, you know, or he was called to attend an emergency meeting of the WC Guides Who Just Can't Take It Any More...

12-12-2014, 03:57 PM
Jen, Very nice! Love those sky colors!


12-13-2014, 11:17 PM
Thanks Don, Still trying and Blayne It was good to get dusty again. I did this small 2x4.5 Iris today. Another quickie that got the dusty juices flowing again.


It is less blue and more purple in the original.

12-13-2014, 11:19 PM
As I said this is bigger than the original and unfortunately shows all the faults!!!

12-14-2014, 07:02 AM
Jen, 2 x 4˝ and you're talking about faults? Surely you jest! This is perfect! I love it and also like the simple background. About the purple showing as blue, there is some technical camera/computer cause for that, but I couldn't explain it exactly. No matter--this is truly gorgeous!

BTW I once took a commercial art class, and the instructor said to paint large images because, when shrunk, as commercial end-users do, the flaws don't show!:lol:

12-14-2014, 09:15 AM
Jen, it's lovely. And I love the blue as is. (Partial to blue). I'm sure it looks beautiful IRL with the purple.

I'm so jealous of the paintings you all have posted. This time of year is just so busy. Patience patience.

12-14-2014, 09:28 AM
Jen, Another beautiful painting! Nicely done!


12-14-2014, 12:49 PM
Me, again.:wave: This is 5" x 7" on stone paper, using Terrages and homemade pastels

The purple, of course, looks too blue, and some of the blue in the far tree line is too blue. Cameras...sigh. Thanks for the photo, Don! This was a fast, fun one to do.


12-14-2014, 03:08 PM
Well done Blayne, you got good depth in this. Yes the blues do get messed up by the camera but it still looks good.

Blayne, Don and Jay thanks. That was my last one as I am off to the grands again but I was glad to get a couple in. I have been neglecting my dusty side!

12-14-2014, 06:17 PM
This is beautiful. I am inspired to try painting some quick studies.

12-14-2014, 06:51 PM
Thank you, Jen!

And thank you, Tallula! Welcome to the Spotlight! I'll look forward to seeing your work.

12-14-2014, 08:45 PM
Blayne, wow, you are on a roll this month! Love the Christmas Goose and the story about the cat toys too, great holiday scene. Love your bright tulips and the gorgeous deer in snow scene. Your sunset scene is fantastic. I don't know if your thinking it's too blue in real life and the camera flattened the blues, but it looks like late sunset as it's getting into the Blue Hour. That is fantastic.

Jen, your sunset looks like early sunset just after the Golden Hour, absolutely light, bright and splendid. Love the feel of it. Your iris though - WOW! One of my favorite subjects ever and you painted it so elegantly. So perfect. Love the soft blended background behind it too, that really makes it pop.

12-14-2014, 09:08 PM
Thanks so much, Robert, and welcome back! We've missed you! I have been on a roll, haven't I? I've had a reprieve from hosting the annual Christmas dinner, which means I am not busy with cleaning and decorating for the holidays. Yay! More time to paint. I'll look forward to seeing some of your paintings now that you're back with us!

12-15-2014, 06:47 AM
Blayne, Jen is right. You did get great depth with this. Very nice. I think there is a deer about to enter from stage right. :angel:

12-15-2014, 07:34 AM
Thanks, Jay! A deer, huh? I'm afraid it will have to remain off stage. After the trouble I had with the other one, off stage is a better choice!:lol:

12-16-2014, 12:47 PM
5" x 7" on stone paper. I've sprayed SpectraFix heavily up until the last layers. I used the heavy spray to deliberately cause the pastel of the foliage to run, drying with a hair dryer.

BTW, Don, I only have one more of your photos to complete this month and then I'm on my own.:evil: Now what can I come up with.....?:lol: :evil: :lol:


12-16-2014, 01:14 PM
Blayne, this is BEAUTIFUL!! Iris can be so stiff but you tamed it. Good for you!

I can't wait to see the next masterpiece. I'm getting very interested in this paper you're using.

12-16-2014, 08:30 PM
Blayne, I love your iris! It's so beautiful. Like your interesting technique of using SpectraFix to create runs. It's very effective, the background has a gorgeous texture and the flower is so vibrant. I love it.

My thought for this Spotlight, I don't know if Don would go for it though. I would like to do a Christmas wreath or Santa painting or something specific to the holiday. I didn't buy new decorations this year so I thought of making one. I might combine one of the references with it though if I paint the deer as a toy or a painting within the painting. As an ornament on the wreath or tree or something. I'm really leaning toward wreath because I don't have one but don't have a good place to put a tree. Also wreaths don't always have lights. I'll probably try the tree another time.

So would that count, Don? Or only if I worked a deer or iris or something into it?

12-16-2014, 08:58 PM
Blayne, Another lovely painting! I may need to add a few more references! I don't think anyone has ever painted all the references for one month! Thanks for all your contributions!

Robert, feel free to incorporate the references in any way you wish! We always look forward to any paintings you contribute!


12-17-2014, 07:36 AM
Thanks, Jay and Robert! I love how that paper lays flat as a board when drenched with SpectraFix. Robert, I'll look forward to your Christmas production!

Thanks, Don, and do I get a prize for completing all the photos?!!! No fair being a spoilsport and posting more!

12-17-2014, 08:15 AM
Blayne, it's so beautiful!

I have been looking at all the photos since Don started the thread, but even the geese seem to be too difficult. I'll try to find the courage during the weekend :) You will be my inspiration :)

12-17-2014, 10:08 AM
Thank you so much, Nick! I think all these photos are difficult, too, but then, I think painting ANYTHING is difficult.: lol: Artists are either gluttons for punishment or really, really enjoy challenges. I'll look forward to seeing a painting from you!

12-17-2014, 01:29 PM
11" x 14" on stone paper

I'm not sure I'm finished with this one yet. I'll stare at it some more and decide. You all can help by making suggestions!


12-17-2014, 02:54 PM
You ARE finished. Don't touch it!!! You hit on something here. I vote sign, frame and sell. Love love love it

12-17-2014, 07:18 PM
Aww, thanks, Jay! But now that I've posted I see those two sets of matching mountains on each side, and that funny swath of blue in the water and...:)

12-17-2014, 07:21 PM
Blayne good job on the Iris. They are not easy and you have the softness in the petals down. I like the sunset on the snow too. Yes I think you are done!

Well I am still here. My granddaughter came down with the flu which turned into phumonia and then the grandson started with a fever and now has a bad cold so I delayed the flight not wanting to mix germs with them for some strange reason! Hopefully they will be all be better soon and i don't pick up something worse to take to them!

Robert that sounds like a good idea now I have some time I might give it a

12-18-2014, 05:51 AM
Thanks, Jen, and I'm so sorry to hear your grands are sick! 'Tis the season for those nasty bugs!

12-18-2014, 01:05 PM
Jen, I'm sorry your grandchildren are sick. My son called and asked me to come watch the little one and I was up to my neck in sauce and preparations for Christmas dinner. Lucky for he, he managed. So hard with the little ones. Hope all is well soon for them and for you.

12-18-2014, 01:11 PM
I'm posting! Haven't painted in forever and it was driving me crazy. A dear friend sent me some pastels that SHE MADE!! Wow..I'm so impressed!! I asked for and received light colors. They are very, very soft...softer than I'm used to. But with fixative, and a learning curve, here is my painting. She made really beautiful pastels.
Finally, here is my take on Don's Iris. 8 x 12 on smooth side of MT with gifted pastels and a few Schmincke, a touch of Girault, a touch of GA.

12-18-2014, 03:01 PM
Blayne, Another beautiful painting! Your paintings always have such nice color harmony!

Jay, Speaking of color harmony...beautiful painting of the iris!


12-18-2014, 03:15 PM
Blayne, it's so beautiful!

I have been looking at all the photos since Don started the thread, but even the geese seem to be too difficult. I'll try to find the courage during the weekend :) You will be my inspiration :)
Nick (and everyone),

Don't forget that a reference pic can be used as just a starting point and can be cropped, simplified and altered to your desire!

I would be willing to say that EVERY photo reference I have ever used has been simplified for the ensuing painting.

Here are some possible crops that might make some nice paintings!



12-18-2014, 03:51 PM
Don, this time of year, I'd love a snow scene. Do you think the Spotlight Santa could leave us a winter scene? Please Santa, we've been good. I surely won't get to it until maybe Dec 29 but still...

12-18-2014, 04:47 PM
Jay, your painting is so wonderful! And the background... wow.

Thank you, Don. I have sketched the deer already, but I don't know.
Hmm, maybe I should just stop circling around and decide to simply do them all :D

12-18-2014, 05:01 PM
I just checked with Spotlight Santa and he said that he hasn't taken many winter photos over the years, but here are 3 that might be of interest to artists....





12-18-2014, 05:17 PM
Wow, kudos to Santa :)
I love the first one so much. The blue in the water makes the photo to sing :)

12-18-2014, 05:20 PM
Thank you Santa!!! Great pictures. You're a good sport Don. Thanks.

12-18-2014, 05:48 PM
OMG, a BEAUTIFUL iris painting by Jay AND a visit from Spotlight Santa!

Jay, that's really a lyrical and lovely iris! Just gorgeous, and I love the soft background! You did a beautiful job on the opened flower and the buds, as well. I had a hard time with the husk around the base of the flower, but it looks like you had no trouble at all with that on the flower or the buds. I like the vagueness of the lower bud. Had it been sharper, it could have drawn the eye too much to the bottom of the page, I think. BTW if your friend passes on any pastel-making tips, please let me know because I make a few of my own also.

Don, thank you, and those new photos from Spotlight Santa are gorgeous! What a nice Christmas present! But gosh, now I'll have to put away the intended arrangement for painting that I had set up--a quite lovely collection of old tractor tires inherited from my Uncle Jerry! Oh, well, they were taking up quite a bit of space in the living room...

12-18-2014, 05:50 PM
11" x 14" on stone paper

I'm not sure I'm finished with this one yet. I'll stare at it some more and decide. You all can help by making suggestions!


Step away from the painting, Blayne. It's done. Take out anoter piece of paper or put away your pastels. This one is finite perfection. It's awesome. I love the gradient of the water both in value, hue and detail. Fabulous reflections. Glorious depth. Wonderful mood. One of your best.

Gorgeous iris, Jay! Absolutely wonderful. Love the color harmony and mood, very accurate and the color just grabs me. So does the form. Well done!

PURR and thanks for more references, Don! I love those winter scenes with water and the crops. You've given me better ideas now for what to do. I had trouble coming up with anything Christmasish even though I liked them all. Might do a dreaming of spring with the flowers anyway. Was considering a crop on the tulips.

12-18-2014, 06:15 PM
Thank you Nick. Please join us.

12-18-2014, 06:22 PM
Blayne, Thank you for the kind words. You're always so kind. If I learn any sure fire tips about pastel making, I'll pass them on. Good luck with yours.

Robert: thank you, thank you. It is a beautiful reference with a beautiful shape.
Weren't we lucky to have Spotlight Santa stop by with presents!!!

12-18-2014, 07:25 PM
Thank you so much, Robert! I guess if you all agree it's done, I'll put it away. I do think it looks better IRL than the photo, yet there are areas that seem unfinished...sigh. OK, on to the next!

12-18-2014, 07:51 PM
Jaygorgeous colours and I agree with Blayne about the husks they were what I had trouble with too. Well done. Lucky you to have a friend to make you your own vibrant pastels!

Santa Donthanks for the snowy references, now those are a real challenge. I may not have time for them. I started on one Christmasy one today but didn't get too far.

Nick just go for it.

12-19-2014, 05:20 AM
Thanks Jen. Apparently my friend made me a dedicated "husk painter" pastel. I'll have to put that label on it.

12-19-2014, 06:39 AM
Well, share the secret, Jay! What color is that "husk painter" pastel?

12-19-2014, 02:24 PM
Really? Well, underneath was a bit of pastel pencil that i sketched with. Then a little off white homemade, very thinly. Then some whiter homemade. Probaby went over the last two back and forth and finally a tap of GA white on top. You know how it is painting.

I forgot to say that i painted this from a black and white version of Don's iris. I find it easier that way.

12-20-2014, 01:03 PM
Thanks for explaining your method. And painting from a black and white photo sure helps with values!

Family things have intervened, but maybe after Christmas I can get around to painting one of those lovely snow photos.

mr sad
12-20-2014, 08:03 PM
First painting after a year away.


12-20-2014, 08:14 PM
Paul, this a lovely peaceful scene. Looks like the year did not impair your dusty side!

12-20-2014, 08:21 PM
So today I did two small paintings. the first from Robert's suggestion for bringing a Christmas touch to the references and the second I had a go at one of the snow scenes.
So I took the sunset over the river and placed the deer (turned into Rudolf. but as I don't know much about antlers and reindeer it may be a bit of a fantasy) onto the snowy shore on the other side.
5x7 on UArt

The second is a bit out of focus not sure why. 6x6 Uart

Not sure if I can get another done before I leave to the getting better Grands!

12-20-2014, 08:50 PM
Well, between Blaine and Jen, I was waiting for you to catch your breath, great productivity and some lovely items submitted!

Jay I love your Iris... so velvety!

Nice big sky Paul, welcome back!

I guess I was waiting for a winter scene, tis the season after all. Great additions to the reference pics Don, thanks!

Did a little cropping to one, and still might noodle with the snow colors and break up the repetition in the trees at the skyline. Let's see if I can get to the touch up before the month is out!


12-20-2014, 11:21 PM
Lovely dawn, Paul! Yours looks more like a crisp morning with frost on the ground than a sunset, it's very moody atmospheric. Love those clouds violet against the gold, then white against blue higher up. Maybe that's some of why it reads as morning.

Jen, love your holiday scenes! Yes that registers as Rudolph! Anatomical tweaks aside, he's so cute it's just not a problem. Great branching antlers. Lovely red nose and harness. Rudolph is a legend, doesn't need to be anatomical museum perfection. After all, this is a flying animal that lights the sky with his nose anyway! Great expression! "Guys, hey, where you going? It's not contagious!" Soon the comeuppance!

Gorgeous winter scene with reflecting water, that draws me right in and the snow on the branches is fantastic. Beautiful depth and feel to your winter wonderland.

Steven, very cool winter scene! I think Santa Don has swept this thread like a Solstice cheer! Wonderful color choices and intensity to your scene, good depth, not adding critique, it's just a great painting. Love the snow-laden pointer branches heading in from the trees on the left side and the row of red-gold bushes peeking out from beside the canal. So beautiful and atmospheric.

Not sure what I'll do yet. Maybe tulips upside down with little ornament hooks on them or something. I still have a few days.

12-21-2014, 06:06 AM
Paul, your scene is lovely. I feel like I hear crickets looking in the depth of the painting.

Jen: your Rudolph glows! I like that pale outline you've given him. He's fun too. The snow scene makes me feel like I'm in the car, nice look. I love the reflection.

Steven: thank you for my iris. I love the sky in your scene and how did you get the snow to glow like that??? I'll be watching to see if you change this one. Nice job.

Robert. Go for it!!


12-21-2014, 08:36 AM
Wow, so many beautiful paintings happened here overnight!

Paul, your yellow sky changes the scene so much--I really like it! I love how you did the trees and the foreground, too.

Jen, your Rudolph is perfect--great anatomy, and I love his sweeping antlers. And you did the snow scene, too! It is really, really lovely!

Steven, I love your snow scene, too! You've managed to put so much warmth into that cold scene! The orange bushes and glowing light on the trees are gorgeous and contrast so nicely with the cool sky and snow.

12-21-2014, 09:17 AM
Wow! You folks sure were busy yesterday!

Paul, Lovely painting! Very serene sunset!

Jen, I like your sunset Rudolph! Nicely done! And the winter landscape is lovely!

Steven, Very nice painting of the winter scene!


mr sad
12-21-2014, 01:16 PM
Thanks for the kind words, all. It's always so nice to share here. And I'm very happy to see so much activity in the last day or so. Lovely paintings!

12-23-2014, 01:19 AM
Thanks for the comments and Happy Holidays all! Managed to slip the finished bits in before Christmas! Actually, I did a bit more after this shot to the left side but the picture was too dark for some reason so we will go with this one!


12-23-2014, 08:22 AM
Nice tweaks, Steven! Glad to see the finish! Well done!

12-23-2014, 03:08 PM
Looks good Steven.

To all the Spotlight: whatever you celebrate this season, may you find peace and happiness. And make great art!!

12-23-2014, 07:36 PM
Well, I actually did one. And tested my little Mungyo Standard half sticks set on the drawing pad from my Christmas box, so this is just goofing around with fun stuff. A quick study of the tulips.

8 1/2" x 11"
Mungyo Standard half stick pastels
Target brand medium weight acid free Drawing Book paper
Photo reference by DAK723

Not my most holidayish but really looking forward to spring!

12-23-2014, 08:43 PM
Steven, Lovely finish!

Robert, Very nice! It may just be a "study," but it captures everything it needs to!

Jay, Thanks for the holiday sentiments, which I would also like to pass along to everyone -

Have a Happy and safe holidays everyone, and thanks for all you do to make the Spotlight successful!


12-24-2014, 09:13 AM
Steven, beautiful finish!

Robert, I think your tulips are lovely. They are spirited and fiery!

Jay and Don, I'll join you in wishing Christmas cheer to everyone!

12-24-2014, 11:21 AM
Robert: Christmas tulips!! Love them. And they are seasonal.

Have a good one everyone!!

12-24-2014, 10:50 PM
Robert Brilliant tulips, just perfect for the season! They will really brighten up your wall!

Thanks Don for another fun Spotlight and I look forward to 2015!

Well hopefully I am off tomorrow to visit the grands who seem to be feeling better! See you all again in January! DVWP as my Mum would say!
God willing weather permitting!

12-25-2014, 08:55 AM
:) It was difficult to tell the truth. But I am glad I have tried.
Hard pastels on green Canson MT


12-25-2014, 11:52 AM
Nick, You've done a wonderful job with the iris! Very lovely painting!


12-25-2014, 01:12 PM
Thank you, Don, you are very kind.

It's funny you know...the different color of the top left corner is caused by the light of my lamp. And it fits perfectly, even though I didn't plan it. I should have been able to paint it :D

12-25-2014, 09:36 PM
Nick, that iris is absolutely breathtaking and ethereal! I love it! Those upper petals are so light and delicate they could wave in a breeze. And the background is perfect. The light in the upper left corner explains the light on the iris, so please put it in if you are considering doing so. But this is perfect and ready for framing just as it is. Kudos for a real winner!

12-26-2014, 09:28 AM
Nick, your iris is beautiful! I love the subtle variations of color and value in it, the way the petals seem paper-thin and delicate. You captured all its intricacy. Just enough detail to shine!

I was inspired to have a go at the reference too, very different approach with it. I'd meant to do it in Pan Pastels from the first I saw it.

8 1/2" x 11"
Pan Pastels on medium weight acid free drawing paper
Photo reference by DAK723 for 2014 December Spotlight challenge.

I had my field kit of Pans right next to me too, 10 painters, 5 deep darks and 5 tints are a good combination. Was going to add some metallic light gold but didn't see a good place for it at the end.

12-26-2014, 10:31 AM
I am afraid the lamp did all the job :)

Rob, yours is beautiful!

12-26-2014, 05:59 PM
Robert, Nicely done! Your work always has a great economy of strokes!


12-26-2014, 06:18 PM

12-26-2014, 08:58 PM
Oh, I love this winter landscape! It's so beautiful. The water reflections are gorgeous. Wonderful mood in this painting. Fantastic trees and that cold snow has me shivering just looking at it.

12-26-2014, 09:08 PM
Robert, you did a very nice job with those Pans! The Pans give a different effect, but you really painted a beautiful iris with them.

Tomek, I'm glad you joined us over here! Your landscape is beautiful! It certainly conveys the feeling of a cold winter scene. I am really drawn into the reflections in that water that looks so deep and cold. And I love the vague strokes you used to create the background line of trees. Nice work!

12-27-2014, 09:26 AM
Tomasz, Beautiful painting! Wonderful color choices and beautiful simplified shapes!


12-27-2014, 02:30 PM
Wow, you've all been busy!
Nick! You've arrived. You are no longer trying....that iris is just beautiful. Congratulations.

Robert, that dark purple looks like velvet. I see a portrait of an Oriental dancer here.
Tmeks, lovely snowy woods. The reflections are super.
Good job all

12-29-2014, 09:02 AM
819706Finally, I got to paint a bit. This is PastelMat, buttercup color, 8 x 8 using a crop of Don's (DAK728) reference. Thank you Don. The painting was done using my friend's homemade pastels, particularly in the sky and some in the snow. Some Girault. Some Unison and a touch of my new Roche'. I was going to play with the trees behind the cabin, soften them, but I think I will leave well enough alone. Opinions? I would love them. C & C always welcome

12-29-2014, 10:17 AM
Jay, it's stunning! I love the fir trees and cabin. That golden glow is beautiful on the far trees and the snow, like a late afternoon light. The purple tree looks great against the golden background. Its graceful shape reminds me of Van Gogh's trees, and it looks like it was painted with his signature fast, assured strokes! It's perfect there.

You picked a lovely crop--this would be a wonderful Christmas card.

12-29-2014, 01:06 PM
11" x 14" on stone paper
This is a WIP, so please feel free to critique!

Thanks for the lovely photo, Don!


12-29-2014, 02:40 PM
This is lovely Blayne. Difficult, in my opinion. ( I was planning to attempt this today but the muse is putting away Christmas stuff.)

I wish we had a bigger picture to admire.

You did a nice size! 11x14. I like the Carlson feel to the forest.

The only critique I have is could you make the second and third tree from the left a tad more slender in the reflection? Maybe they reflect that way?

I think the painting is beautiful and would hang it on my wall in a heartbeat. Lovely

Thank you for the kind words about the cabin in the snow.

12-29-2014, 04:53 PM
Thank YOU, Jay, for your kind words--Carlsen? Really? I'll have to look at his book again! And thank you for your suggestion to make those trunks smaller--they are a little fat, aren't they? As to a bigger image, my photo editor on the Fire wasn't cooperating the last time I tried--but I'll try again.

12-29-2014, 05:15 PM
This looks perfect! I can't wait to see it on a bigger screen :)

12-29-2014, 05:17 PM
And Jay, the same goes for your painting. I know my celphone screen doesn't do justice to your work.

12-29-2014, 05:59 PM
Thanks Nick. I can always count on you! Hope you are having a lovely holiday season in your part of the world.

12-29-2014, 09:59 PM
Wow! Jay, your winter painting is so colorful, the snow looks like dawn colors reflecting on it. Very cheery!

Blayne, yours is quieter and more moody, gorgeous reflections. I like the stillness of the water and the way you play with the irregular shapes on the shore. Well done!

12-30-2014, 05:06 AM
Thanks Robert. I was so happy Don put up those snow scenes.

Blayne, admiring yours again...I like that icy shelf at the edge of the water. Cool how you did that.

12-30-2014, 07:23 AM
Thanks so much, Nick, Robert and Jay! I think I need to make that icy shelf on the right lie down more but am not sure how to do it. I've worked on the reflections and that forked tree on the right bank and will post again later. Any suggestions on that ice shelf?

12-30-2014, 07:54 AM
Jay and Blayne, Very lovely winter scenes!


12-30-2014, 10:34 AM
I like the ice shelf. I think it reads well.

Thank you Don. I just had to do one of those snow scenes. I'm planning on anther but won't get it done in time for the spot. Love the one Blayne did.

12-30-2014, 11:00 AM
I used to think about snow as about something simply white. Now that I know that it can't be further from the truth, all snow scenes seem to be too difficult.
You all painted it beautifully.
I hope I will have time tomorrow to give it at least a shot :)

12-30-2014, 01:20 PM
Please do Nick. I think snow is much easier than swans or birds.:D

12-30-2014, 02:01 PM
Nick, two things in general. White things have much darker shadows on them than you'd think, the darker the shadows the stronger the light looks.

For color and snow, there's a class I took years ago in Pastel Learning Center, ESP: Snow (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=524278) by Deborah Secor. She held it a month before Still Life the Colourful Way and introduced some of the same color concepts but specifically for snow landscapes, how they work receding back, what hues vanish first and so on. The results were amazing. I'd done okay with snow scenes before but until I took that class mine were nearly monochrome. I'd use various darks for conifers and vegetation, have a medium blue for sky color and shadows. Sometimes it wouldn't be the same blue, but I'm not sure if I wasn't just using the same blue for both a lot of times.

Ever since, snow scenes became easy and colorful. So check that out. It's not that much to absorb but it's mind popping when you do.

12-30-2014, 03:27 PM
Thank you, Rob, I will take a look! :)

12-30-2014, 06:19 PM
Thank you, Don! That photo was inspiring!

Jay, I've darkened the ice shelf at the side of the hill. I saw a similar one in another snow painting and saw how it was done.

12-31-2014, 06:06 AM
I'd love to see your new ice shelf.

A crop was suggested to me for my cabin in snow. I'm wondering if the artist was right. Maybe I have too much plain snow in the foreground OR I didn't paint it right.
Reading the thread Robert suggested, Deborah Secor says the nearest snow would have turquoise tone? Then the next distance pink. I don't think I can work on this before the thread closes. Too bad. I would have loved your opinion.
might try.
wishes to all for a super great 2015.

12-31-2014, 06:21 AM
Jay, if you want to keep working on it, maybe keep going in the thread in Studio-Gallery where I saw you post it.

Agree that cropping some of the foreground snow might be good. It had a lot of foreground without a lot happening there. Some is good to lead up into the painting but either cropping or adding some near ground brush or other feature would be cool.

12-31-2014, 09:26 AM
Thanks Robert. This is the painting now, 8x8 with the twin trees behind the cabin improved, maybe? I'm putting up the painting and a possible crop suggested by a shadow from my window falling on the painting!!! :lol: :lol: :lol: It may be too much crop. I would love opinions. Painting first, then crop.

12-31-2014, 04:19 PM
Jay, This is really looking good! I think I prefer the crop as I like the scene more in the horizontal mode.


12-31-2014, 05:06 PM
Thanks Don. I'm really happy I got to do one of those wonderful snow scenes. I just love them. Thank you again for all you do.

Have a great New Year's Eve!