View Full Version : Colourful Apples WIP

04-21-2015, 01:43 PM
Doing it again! Another pastel painting in the style taught by Colorix in "Still Life The Colourful Way." Stage 1 follows.

Atmospheric Apples, Stage 1
8" x 10" landscape
Photo reference by Ivyleaf RIL
Rembrandt pastels on Strathmore Artagain non sanded paper.

Photo reference is posted in Apri 2015 Pastel Spotlight thread in Pastel Talk forum, where I am doing this to show atmospheric perspective used in a small distance for a still life instead of the easy way with rows of hills getting paler, bluer and foggier as they march off into the misty distance. The photo reference really didn't show artistic perspective at all, though a bit of linear perspective showed.

However, one of the cool things in Charlie's colourful style is using exaggerated aerial/atmospheric perspective even if the distance is no greater than a tabletop or your average fruit basket. That seemed like a fun challenge!

Looking at the photo, I noticed the nearest apple was a good red-violet hue while the farthest one was a more golden-amber-orange red combination. That actually reverses the way colors behave in atmospheric perspective. If you take a snowfield, the yellow hues in the foreground will vanish from the sunlit surface of the snow getting gradually more pinkish in the middle ground and eventually going through lavender to bluish sometimes. Or finish off with a very cool purplish pink depending on the light. Snow on mountains will look a pale cold pink rather than white.

So even in the underpainting, I just switched the colors on the apples. The nearest one will have that zesty green undertone (yellow in the shadows) and warm yellow warm light side. The middle one's a red-orange with a bluer green shadow side. The far one's magenta (violet cast red), as cold as it gets and still count as a warm color while its shadow side is clear violet-cast blue - blue being the coldest of cold colors. Both of the far-apple underpainting colors will easily blend up into a red-purple apple with a cool cast in the distance, while the nearest apple will become warm red-gold and streaky.

The initial laydown of the shadows is already in Stage 2, got the color and value more or less right or closer to true. The nearest one is a yellow-cast or warm gray with grayed purple undertones. The middle one a pinkish gray with strong grayed purple undertones. The far one is bluish gray with its grayed purple hints as a unifying color.

Next, the apples will be blended and then brought to Stage 2 (Get The Color Right), while I might leave those shadows that textured. I might darken or intensify them some but may wait till I get to Stage 3 for that.

Fun project. The sketch was done with a 4H graphite pencil very lightly, while outlines of the picture area and crop lines (not seen in photo) were done with a 2H to be a bit darker while still thin and harder to smear than the B range graphite pencils that sometimes come up into the pastel powder.

I'm working on an aluminum clipboard for drawing board, very small and handy for working seated. I'm also anchored to my chair by a 15lb sleeping lap cat, whose purrs drifted into snores after he spread numerous Cat Hairs of Inspiration on my legs, hands and anything else he can reach. Ari cat will assist throughout the process, as he always does.

04-21-2015, 04:22 PM
Nice to see you back!

I know you always write how the method works, but every time I see the first stages I think "no way that this is going to work" :D
I am looking forward to seeing the next stages!

04-21-2015, 05:27 PM
Glad Ari is helping! I'll look forward to seeing the rest of the WIP!

04-21-2015, 09:37 PM
Purr hi Nick! Oh yes! I boggled at the start when I took the class but it works every time! I used to call Stage 1 the "Faux Fauve" because it's garish and cheery and nearly abstract, flat and wild and unreal. It goes rom Modern ARt to Somewhat Unfinished-Ish to an "Ugly Stage" that I'm convinced it'll never work in a million years, then at stage 4 final details it snaps into "OMG better than I could have hoped." I love that snap. I'm beginning to accept the Ugly Stage, but the first stage is already at a point I'm used to it and go "Good first stage, nice and solid bright."

Here's Stage 2 - with some tweaks to the shadows darkening and cooling while keeping the progression. The apples themselves are closer to their final colors but still flat cartoons of themselves. For some reason I didn't bother to blend. Not sure why. Maybe I just want a sparkly texture, will be stick-blending in Stages 3 and 4 most likely.

Colourful Apples, Stage 2
8" x 10" landscape
Photo reference by Ivyleaf RIL
Rembrandt pastels on pale grey Strathmore Artagain non sanded paper.

I might shift up to softer pastels for Stage 3, since I also have Ludwigs handy. Or sideways to the Unisons first. We'll see when I pick this up again.

04-21-2015, 09:55 PM
Nice Robert, Charlie is top notch. She learned from Susan Sarback, who teaches in California at the School of light and color. Susan has a video out called, What a Difference a day makes, that is well worth watching.

04-23-2015, 08:02 AM
I love it when you use this method I can't wait to see the results!

04-23-2015, 12:30 PM
im looking forward to seeing more Rob ...thanks for the wip !! tyree :wave:

04-24-2015, 01:19 AM
It's always exciting watching you document this method. I've only ventured anywhere near it with CP, not pastels, I've not had the temerity! Looking forward to seeing how you work your magic!

04-27-2015, 02:26 PM
Purr, thank you!Donna, have a go, pastels are faster and easier than colored pencils! I came out of CP too, pastels always feel like I'm breezing through in no time at all! Scotty, thanks for posting Charlie's lineage. I love the method and every time I use it, I have an easier time getting past the Ugly Stage.

Which is this:

Colourful Apples In Perspective (Stage 3)
8" x 10"
Rembrandt and Unison pastels on Strathmore Artagain light gray pastel paper
Photo reference by Ivyleaf from RIL (for Pastel Spotlight 4-2015)

Stage 3 inevitably looks horrible! Just short of finish, it gets ghastly. It screams for and defines the final details of Stage 4. Very often I don't even remember to take a photo at Stage 3 because it bugs me so much. I'll see a nuance and do it, keep going, realize it's done.

This sometimes happens now in other media and other methods. But it always happens in the School of Light & Color method. I am so used to it that I've begun taking that feeling as "Oh, Stage 3 is Done." I've learned to trust this is the time to stop, look at the painting and ask what it needs.

What I did was systematically approach the color masses and nuance them with Unisons pastels, softer and fluffier than Rembrandts.

The hue progression of the apples is where atmospheric recession comes in, exaggerated because I switched their colors. Front apple is the warm yellow-gold-brown-orange of the photo's rear one, rear apple the cool red-purple of the photo's near one, middle is the same. A light glaze of pale blue over the entire far apple cools and mutes that a step farther.

I was honestly surprised everyone else who did it stuck to the photo's colors, not switch them around to progress from yellow to red to purple! That was the first thing I thought of, looking at it as an example of "use atmospheric perspective." Applying it across the short distance of a still life creates 3D depth. Now the values do progress in reverse, darker now in the distance, but we'll see what happens in Stage 4 where high contrast details like dark stems, white-ish highlights and tight little dark shadows under the bases start to change the way it looks. I may have to mute down that red-violet apple some more and lighten it, though I'd prefer doing it with bright saturated contrast details in the front one.

Stage 3 is discovering the hue and value variations within masses, either following the model or creatively changing them for better effect.

One point in favor of not changing the shadows is that the shadow of my pencil sharpener on the painting is exactly the hue and color of the front shadow! Spooky and cool!

04-27-2015, 04:28 PM
Pff, THAT is not an ugly stage at all :D

I need to give this method another try :)

04-27-2015, 07:18 PM
You tell him, Nick! Waiting for the finish!!!

04-27-2015, 07:56 PM
Rob, I like seeing the progression of steps and how the subjects evolve.

04-27-2015, 09:13 PM
Reading this with great interest. Very nice. :thumbsup:

04-28-2015, 08:58 AM
Hey Rob, looking great! When I saw the UP, I thought "no way..." :-D Just kidding, what I actually thought was "so smart of Rob to enhance the sense of depth already in the UP!!! That will make his job so much easier as he progresses" -- which you show us so clearly.

Can't wait for the "magick" of stage 4.

04-30-2015, 11:53 AM
Purr thank you! Charlie! I am so thrilled you came to look! Here's the finish - I did fiddle a little bit with the shadows and with the color on the front one, but all I did on the second two was add the highlight. Finesse on color recession -the highlight on the far one is near-white blue with near-white lavender over it, near-white pink in the middle, near white pink, yellow and dash of pure white on the forward one. Still kept on with hue recession in the stems too - purplish brown, purplish and grayish brown, purplish and greenish brown in the front. I also brightened the front apple and brought in some reds and oranges to unify it with the more saturated ones behind it - it looked too muted and left the middle apple most intense.

Three Colourful Apples
8" x 10"
Rembrandt, Unison and Terry Ludwig pastels
Strathmore Artagain unsanded pastel paper, pale gray
Photo reference by Ivyleaf from RIL

I am loving those Ludwigs! Going into a phase of super soft pastels again...

04-30-2015, 05:33 PM
Nice job Robert. Love those cast shadows. You made the deadline!!

04-30-2015, 05:57 PM
I commented in the Spotlight more fully but wanted to say I think your apples came out just gorgeous! The colorist method really produces beautiful results. Those colors on the second and third apples are really nice, and I love the background and shadows!

04-30-2015, 06:35 PM
Rob, they're juicy! I seem to remember to have said this before: edges. Soft edges round out round objects.

Great attention to the stems, yes, they too parttake in the atmospheric recession!

05-01-2015, 05:54 PM
Purr thank you! That far one I've got the edge visually softened with its reflected pale color turning it, that was just happy chance! I didn't try for sharp hard edges on them anywhere - the reference was very hard-edged and didn't look right. Thanks for mentioning that, Charlie!