View Full Version : The Spotlight - March 2016 - Simplifying Part III

02-29-2016, 10:31 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 continues our exploration of…Simplifying!

This is our third installment on Simplifying. The first two Simplifying Spotlights can be found here:



In our first Spotlight on Simplifying, we discussed using large masses to simplify our paintings. We discussed how the masses may vary in the amount of detail and value and color variation depending on how important the mass was – whether it was the subject/focal area or not. In Part II, we discussed the shapes of individual objects and how interior detail can be limited. Again, how much detail and value/color variation was needed often depends on how important the object is in the painting.

So, in other words, one way to simplify our paintings is to decide what areas are of lesser importance, and then simplify those areas to varying degrees. That’s what we will concentrate on this month – those areas of lesser importance, which I will be calling…the Non-Essentials!

Keep in mind that the examples I am using in this and the previous Spotlights on Simplifying are specifically chosen to best represent what I am discussing. The painters represented have done many paintings that are not simplified to this extent and may have also done many paintings that are quite complex. Using these techniques and principles is a choice – certainly not a rule. The extent that you decide to simplify is totally up to you!

Many paintings can be divided, more or less, into foreground, middle ground and background. This is not always true, of course, but we can generalize! Usually, the subject or focal area of the painting is in the middle ground. Thus, the two areas we will focus on as being non-essential (or less essential) will be backgrounds and foregrounds.

The most obvious way of simplifying the Non-Essentials is to eliminate them completely! Many portraits and still life paintings will have no background details or objects at all. This is especially true when the subject is close-up and takes up the majority of the painting. This doesn’t mean that the background needs to be dull. Here is a Renoir still life with color variation and lively brushstrokes that can make a non-detailed background vibrant and interesting.


But what if you move back a bit and want to add some background objects, but still keep them Non-Essential? Then you can simplify them by reducing the amount of color and value contrast and eliminating and reducing detail.

Here are two examples from the contemporary painter Pino: (These images are copyrighted and used for educational purposes only. Please do not copy or reproduce.)


Here we have a lovely painting where the little girl and her mother are the subject. All else is reduced to being non-essential. The wall on the right is totally simplified and the sofa has virtually no detail. The background table with flowers and a few nick-knacks is more detailed (as it serves as a secondary focal area to balance the figures) but is almost a silhouette. The colors away from the center are all simplified into what amounts to an almost monochromatic background. As we come forward into the foreground, things are simplified as well. The blue blanket becomes softer edged and almost blends into the brown sofa. Even the little girl’s feet are simplified, presumably because they are coming into the foreground and Pino wants the viewer to pass them by and focus more on the distance where the faces are.


Here we have a more complex painting with many figures in the background. It seems as if Pino has simplified them quite a bit however. Again he reserved the intense color for the main figure and reduced the color intensity and value contrasts for the background figures. While the men in the background have white shirts and black vests, notice how much more gray their shirts are compared to the lightest white of the main figure’s blouse (If you squint, I think you’ll see those background figures really recede). Much of the background seems to merge and blend into the darker brown mass that encompasses the background area.

Next we'll look at a couple landscapes by Paul Strisik. (All the Strisik images are copyrighted and used for educational purposes only. Please do not copy or reproduce.)


In the top painting, I think we can agree that the background mountains are quite simplified with a minimal amount of value and color contrast. The foreground is very simplified as well, with just a few suggestions of details. In the second painting, there isn’t a lot of background, but the trees are somewhat blended together into two masses with a few darker strokes to suggest branches and trunks. The foreground gets quite simplified as we get closer to the viewer. Almost all the “action” – so to speak – is in the middle ground. That’s where the details, most contrast, brightest colors are. (OK, the bottom painting is rather muted in color all over, but you get the idea!)

The question of how to simplify foregrounds in a landscape can be a tricky one. When we learn about atmospheric perspective, for example, we learn that a couple ways to create the illusion of distance in a painting is to: a) decrease contrast as we move farther away; b) reduce detail as we move farther away. These principles would therefore state that the closest objects would have the most contrast and the most detail. And, when creating the illusion of distance, these principles work! But now I’m showing examples where the foreground has little or no detail and little color and value contrast. What is an artist to do??!

This is where decisions need to be made. Because we also learn that one of the principles of painting is that we can adjust the amount of detail and contrast in areas of our paintings depending on what is essential and where our focal area is!

This is why painting is difficult! And why many of the so-called “rules” aren’t rules at all, because some of them are contradictory!

As we saw in the previous two Strisik paintings, the foregrounds are simplified by minimizing value and color contrast as well as detail. Another way of simplifying foregrounds is to put the immediate foreground in shadow. Since areas in shadow will automatically have muted colors and less or no detail visible, this approach seems to work well although I must admit, I have never tried to add shadow where there wasn’t already shadow there. Here are some Strisik paintings with shadowed foregrounds:


Another strategy of simplifying our paintings is to use an approach that merges (at least to a certain degree) the foreground and background into one large value mass. Both foreground and background, in these cases, would be so similar in value and/or color so that they are more or less one mass. The mass can be either a) mostly light values, b) mostly middle values, or c) mostly dark values. The main subject would have a fuller range of values.

Here’s a landscape (top) where the background/foreground is all light values and the subject has the wider range. A few detail touches in the immediate foreground help keep the painting from being too 2-dimensional and help create depth. Without those little touches, we have essentially a very simplified white/gray background! I have taken the liberty to remove the subject and those small foreground details (bottom) to show just how simplified the rest of the painting is.


Let’s take a look at a couple still life paintings by Manet:


Now it would be hard to say that the still life on the left is not very simplified. A solid dark background and a simple table top that holds the vase of flowers. However, the edge where table and background meet is high contrast and creates two very distinct masses. Do we really need that strong contrast between table and background? Could Manet have simplified the composition even more? On the right, we see a similar composition, but the tabletop and background are blended into one mostly middle valued mass. A slight change to a lighter value indicates the table top without actually showing it! This is not to say that this type of blended foreground/background can always be done or is always a better alternative. But in this case, which painting do you prefer?

One more painting by Paul Strisik. In this still life, the background and table top are more-or-less merged and dark in value. He depicts a clearer table top than Manet did in the above right painting, but the line where table top ends and wall begins is soft and subdued. The table top is lighter in value, but still on the darker side. In my mind, at least, one can look at the background/foreground as one simplified shape!


This completes our exploration on simplifying. We have seen that simplifying can be approached with the following strategies (and probably more that I haven’t thought of). Those strategies are:

1) Using large masses and as few masses as possible to design our paintings.
2) Minimizing value and color contrast within those larger masses.
3) Using the power of the silhouette which allows us to minimize interior detail.
4) Grouping objects together.
5) Eliminating what is not needed.
6) Cropping
7) Reducing the amount of detail and contrast in the Non-Essential areas.
8) Designing foregrounds and backgrounds to merge into one value shape.

You can, of course, use any of these strategies for this month’s references, but feel free to concentrate on those strategies that we explored this month to simplify those Non-Essentials!

And remember, we are just exploring ways to simplify. There are no rules that say you need to simplify or how much to simplify. If you would rather add a lot of detail when you paint, by all means, do it! All we offer here on the Spotlight is ideas and possibilities!

The references:






(All photos by me)

As always, feel free to crop and modify these references. In fact, this month I am counting on it! Share any thumbnails, comments or questions, too!

And have fun exploring simplifying the Non-Essentials!


03-01-2016, 02:50 AM
Oh wow! Great lesson and great reference photos, Don! I have been unable to participate the last couple of months but plan to dive in this month. :)

To add to and emphasize what you say about foregrounds and backgrounds, in his book Mastering Composition, Ian Roberts talks about reducing the value contrast in the foreground in particular (or at least that's how I remember it). You can use similar hues to the middle ground/subject but just make those colours much closer in value so as not to draw the eye toward the foreground.

03-01-2016, 03:34 AM
Great lesson and fantastic examples there Don! Those Pino paintings are even more beautiful when read together with your excellent analysis. I'm surprised by the harshness of the background contrast in the first still life example by Manet. Maybe his idea was to add further drama to a painting already full of contrast? I like both, they each have a different mood, the second having a sort of dreamlike calming quality to it.
I'm in for this month. Time I did a still life again so I may try both examples. I can also type two handed again now so will be able to comment too!

03-01-2016, 03:48 AM
I just thought about this one I did a week or so back. I was using the simplification principles we've already learnt and I also had an express purpose of including people in the background with very little detail. This is the first time I've really done such a thing and I think it worked to a degree. But oh to be as good as Pino!
This is me and my Dog Milly, doing a trick at an Animal rescue Dog Olympics last summer. Such fun :cat:


03-01-2016, 07:19 AM
Great lesson Don. There are a lot of subtle points to take in. And that man in the portrait...he seems so familiar. Almost as if I know him. Hmmmmmmm.

Lovely painting Ruthie. You sure kept our eye right where you wanted it. I'm so glad you feel well enough to paint and to post. (Not to mention congratulations on the dog training and the rescue.).

03-01-2016, 01:50 PM
Great lesson, Don! Love the way that culminates everything in the previous two and builds on it.

Ruthie, wow, well done! Captivating pose with a great sense of motion and all focus on the performing dog.

03-01-2016, 03:41 PM
Thanks for your comments!

Ruth, Glad to see you are typing with two hands again! Very nice painting! Those background figures are nicely simplified and yet you have captured the poses and gestures! Of course, the foreground figures are excellent too!

Jay, Don't think I have ever posted a pic of the reading man, so not sure how he could look familiar! (The painting above his head might look familiar - it is the painting by Charlie that we discussed last month!)


03-01-2016, 07:16 PM
Wonderful painting, Ruthie. Thank you for sharing it!

Don, thank you again for the great lesson and references. Portraits are one thing I'm least experienced at and most intimidated by, so that's what I chose to do first. I've been going through your lessons and more figure practice will do me good, so here's my version of the reading man.


03-01-2016, 07:53 PM
Good for you Kim, to tackle the one you find the most difficult. You did a nice job with him. Love the shirt especially. Hard, isn't it? Good job.

03-01-2016, 08:48 PM
Thank you Jay, yes, very hard! This one reminded me of my late father, so I altered him a little to look more like him. I have respect for good portrait artists. I have never had a knack for faces. Frankly, I'm not even good at recognizing people.

The sunflowers were calling me, so I did them too


03-01-2016, 09:33 PM
Kim, you are painting so fast I can't keep up! You've done an excellent job on the reading man! You've captured the pose, the proportions and the lighting! Those few highlight accents make it come alive!

Very nice job on the sunflowers, too! Glad you cropped off the front of the table which makes a simpler, better composition, in my opinion!


03-02-2016, 02:30 AM
Wow Kim! Your reading man is excellent. What I love about it is the muted yet lively background, which you have filled with light, shade and interest. I'm also impressed by the way the man seems to emerge from the background. great job!
The Sunflowers are beautifully done too and I love the crop taking the petals of one off the edges.

03-02-2016, 09:08 AM
Thank you, Don. I tried to take the lesson to heart, thanks again for offering it.

Ruthie, I appreciate your kind words. I am starting to get the hang of using the pastels and different ways they lay. I am still often at a trial and error phase. That sometimes results in overworking more than I would like. The more experience I get, the more effective I can be with less. You're landscapes in the previous month were such nice examples of that.

03-03-2016, 08:17 AM
I'm here is spirit. Trying to get some stuff in Frames. But I'll cheer along. I don't want you to get lonely Kim. Wish I had the guts to try the reading man but he would look like King Kong!

03-03-2016, 08:48 AM
I'm here is spirit. Trying to get some stuff in Frames. But I'll cheer along. I don't want you to get lonely Kim. Wish I had the guts to try the reading man but he would look like King Kong!

Keep in mind that the reference of the reading man was not chosen for anyone to try and get a likeness! It's all about the non-essentials! So it's OK if the reading man looks like King Kong! I won't take it persona - oh, I mean, the reading man won't take it personally!:lol:


03-03-2016, 11:31 AM
Don :evil: :wave: :rolleyes:

Here are my Sunflowers. Maybe not the best painting I've ever done but, hey, who cares. The main thing was to relieve the background of any detail and I succeeded there I think :)


03-03-2016, 04:52 PM
Kim, your reading man and sunflowers are lovely! I especially like the portrait. You simplified the background so well but still kept some interest with the lovely colours.

Ruth, your sunflower painting is wonderful. I like the crop and the way you have changed up the colours to use the complementary violet with the yellow sunflowers. Nice!

03-03-2016, 07:07 PM
Ruth, Very nice sunflowers! Yes, simplified background but with color variation that suggests background and tabletop!


03-03-2016, 09:15 PM
Ruth, love your sunflowers! Bright glass too and I really like the soft violets in the background punching up the gorgeous rich yellows. Beautiful.

03-04-2016, 06:01 AM
Nice Ruthie! And cheerful on a snowy morning. I like the way you changed the shape of the one on the right.

Don..you made me smile.

Robert! Nice to see you.

03-04-2016, 09:37 AM
Ruthie, the sunflowers are beautiful. Very vibrant and cheerful! The contrast background works well, indeed.

I used the simplification lesson and my recent figure practice to use in sketching a subject I'd been wanting to try for awhile but was a little intimidated by. I used to be a bike racer and this is a self-portrait of sorts


03-04-2016, 11:41 AM
Kim, WOW! This is wonderful. Impressive.

Don, you said you wouldn't be offended if I did King Kong reading. I had that foggy tree painting from Atmospheric perspective spotlight. I hated the way it came out so I brushed it off, scrubbed with baking soda, and got brave to do the portrait, my first in pastel. I used pastel pencil. (Interesting, the new surface allowed me to erase with a sponge from pans.) So here is "King Kong reading in the fog." Sorry he looks older and heavier. You can see that the paper was heavily distressed. Not sure if I got this right but here goes.

03-04-2016, 12:05 PM
Jay, he doesn't look King Kong like, he looks gentle and peaceful. The drawing has an ethereal quality the way you left just hints of a sketch around the focal point. I like that approach a lot.

03-04-2016, 12:43 PM
Thanks so much. You're very kind, you know that. I called it King Kong so the "reading man" could disclaim it as a portrait of him!
I forgot to say the paper was Pastel Premier.

03-04-2016, 09:35 PM
Kim, Wonderful painting of the bike racers! The sketchy quality really translates into movement! Really well done!

Jay, The "reading man" took a look at your painting and agrees that the painting shows his peaceful and gentle side! As Kim mentions - very ethereal!


03-04-2016, 09:58 PM
Kim, that's very effective. Barely enough marks and yet their speed and identity conveyed, the loose background really works to convey speed.

Jay, he looks good! Like the feel of the portrait.

03-05-2016, 06:30 AM
Thanks guys, Reading Man and Robert. Just had to try a hard subject since I had the reclaimed paper begging to be used. Portraits are HARD! Wow.

03-05-2016, 08:28 AM
Kim, I love the bikers! You seem to naturally have the loose style that I am still striving for!
Jay, What a great first pastel portrait! reading man makes a great model doesn't he? Hmm, think I may have a go at that one......

03-05-2016, 09:31 AM
Oh please do Ruthie! I wish Don would use him as a lesson with arrows etc. I'd love to see him done with a good likeness.

03-06-2016, 08:43 PM
Thank you for the kind comments, Robert and Ruthie.

03-07-2016, 03:39 AM
Jay, please don't put that pressure on me :) My favourite portraits to do are the ones where a likeness is not essential. That's why I hardly ever do portrait commissions!

03-07-2016, 05:07 PM
Ruthie. SO Sorry. I didn't mean to pressure you. I so appreciate your painterly style. Your hand, as a confident artist, inspires me. So glad you're here on Spotlight.

03-08-2016, 09:19 PM
Hi Everyone, its great to see all the wonderful works so far, Don...thanks for hosting another excellent session!
Ruthie - Wow...you are an inspiration! I love the one of you and Milly and your sunflowers are spectacular:)
Kim - Great likeness on your Reading Man..a wonderful painterly feel and capture of the scene. Your bike race painting is superb! Love the action and focus of detail.
Jay - such beautiful colors in your Reading Man and great likeness too! It has a calmness to it..he looks so content!

Here is my version of the Reading Man...not quite what I had hoped for but I ran out of tooth and I havent figured out how to correct without mucking it up lol...Canson Mi Tientes paper and Nupastels

03-09-2016, 08:29 AM
Very well done, Raini. It is a good portrait and resemblance. There is nice harmony with hints of the background color in the shadows of the face and hints of shirt color in the background. I like that you took a different crop and, even without the book, you can tell he's reading.

As an aside, the signature placement is clever. It looks like reading man is wearing a "Raini" logo shirt :)

03-09-2016, 09:23 AM
Thanks Kim! Haha! Will be taking orders for the Logo shirt ...stay tuned😜

03-09-2016, 11:42 AM
I loved the ref of the sunflowers and its great to see the different approaches, here is mine...happily this worked for me as usually flowers are my nemesis!

03-09-2016, 04:45 PM
Kim, I like the cyclists! What a challenging piece. You really focused on the subject and did a great job of simplifying the background and foreground.

Jay, your reading man portrait is lovely. Very calm and contemplative.

Raini, I like the colours you've used, especially in his face, and your treatment of the shirt. You got a good likeness too. And in your sunflower painting the dark paper really makes the petals stand out. I like how you've done the glass vase too.

03-09-2016, 06:45 PM
Raini, Two very nice paintings and great examples of simplifying! Both paintings use the strategy of using one similar color/value for the entire "background" -even in cases like the portrait where the shirt is unified with the background and the sunflowers where the table and background become simplified into one! Nicely done!


03-09-2016, 07:13 PM
Raini, the sunflower is wonderful! I really like the use of green on the table too

03-09-2016, 09:04 PM
Thank you Raini and Sarah.

Raini, you reading man is wonderful. You did such a great job on the hair and beard especially. The color harmony is lovely. The colors are beautiful. And your flowers are super!!! I think you have conquered flowers now!!!
Now may I order a shirt for my husband? The color would be great for him!!

03-09-2016, 11:18 PM
Thank you Sarah,Jay, Don and Kim!
Jay, lol...unfortunately there has been a hitch in my shirt production!..I presented my business to the much famous Canadian moguls who star on The Dragons Den...much to my dismay they wouldn't give me an investment deal to go into production...something about eccentric artists who can't keep track of the time being too risky! Sorry ..no shirts! 😞

03-10-2016, 05:35 AM
Jay, don't worry, it was partly tongue in cheek :) But it is tru that I fel pressure if I am expected to get a likeness in a portrait. Usually end up with the likeness but losing the "life"
Raini, great portrait! Love the close crop and the way the background colours creep into his face. Good job! The sunflower is great too, another good portrait!

03-10-2016, 06:21 AM
Ruthie, that makes sense. The reworking to get the likeness taking the "life". I'm always learning. Thank you!

03-10-2016, 08:59 AM
This has been fun. I've been invigorated by taking on figures and simplified backgrounds. It's opening up new things to paint that I had previously avoided. I've really been enjoying it and have been doing a whole bunch of small figures and compositions to improve. The first two figures are tiny 5x7's as I didn't want to waste pastelmat practicing, but the airplane (I am calling it "departures") is on 9x12




03-10-2016, 10:34 AM
Kim, these are wonderful! I love the downhill biker, wonderfully simple background and so much energy conveyed! You have a great style and I am always inspired by your work!

03-11-2016, 08:30 AM
Kim, Very nice paintings! The airplane painting is a really great example of simplifying! The very fact that the ground is so simplified puts the emphasis on the subjects and creates a very bold piece!


03-11-2016, 01:30 PM
Kim, the biker is great. The crop makes it so dynamic!

But I just love the airplane. I'm not sure why. Tell me about it please. The guy and his dog..I want to know the story. I can't explain why I felt an emotional connection.

03-11-2016, 03:46 PM
Raini, great Reading Man portrait, simplified and powerful. Gorgeous sunflower warmed me right up, beautiful glass effect but that's secondary to the fantastic blossom. Love both of these.

Kim, wow! Great on all three of these. Very intense. The plane's very effective, gave me a strong emotional reaction. Good cyclist and beach guy.

03-11-2016, 06:08 PM
Thank you Don. Jay and Robert, thank you also for the kind comments and for noting that you found the "departure" painting evocative. The plane, man, and dog that I used for models are all dear to my heart. I used some photos from an airfield at Martha's vineyard. The Casablanca bittersweetness was purely artistic license but it is his favorite movie :)

03-11-2016, 09:13 PM
Thanks Ruthie and Robert!
Robert, good to have you with us again, welcome back!
Here is one that I finished today, " Just Beachy" I was inspired to try some figures after viewing Kim's fantastic work. Thanks to Dons lessons on simplification it went a lot easier. But wow its hard to get fine detail, one day I will invest in some pencils. I am persisting with the premiere sanded paper and really starting to like it.

03-11-2016, 09:36 PM
Very atmospheric, Raini! I love the reflections on the wet sand, it's very lively.

03-12-2016, 04:57 AM
Raini, I love it! Love the water lapping around their feet. My favorite part. And the crop! Super. You simple wave coming forward is just great! No detail but we know exactly what it is. Good job! Didn't realize you had an ocean beach up there is Alberta!!!

There is wonderful art going on!

03-12-2016, 06:29 AM
Oh great job! The crop gives it a child perspective and I love the little touches of detail like the wet hair and the swirls of water around the feet. The sand/water are so simple but very effective

03-12-2016, 09:50 AM
Thanks Robert, Kim and Jay! No ocean beach in Alberta (I wish!)...but Slave Lake would be the place to see surf!

03-12-2016, 12:18 PM
Raini, Very nice beach scene! To my eye, it doesn't need any more detail. Let the viewer fill those in! Of course, it's up to you whether you want to add pastel pencils to your collection!


03-16-2016, 05:11 AM
Kim, great work on all three of these. Like the others I love the plane best. It has expression and a story o it as well as being brilliantly painted!
Raini, love the beach scene and I agree with the others' comments on it. More detail, for me, is not needed here at all. The painting speaks to me in an emotional way and does not need further finish IMO. Take it from a person who started out wanting to put in every last detail from a photo and ended up, many times, killing the "life" in paintings by doing so!

03-16-2016, 07:33 AM
Thanks Don and Ruthie, I guess I wasn't clear about the detail...not that I wanted to put more in but that I struggled with the hands using the pastel and trying to get the shape right without making a big blob!
Ruthie , I admit to having the "overdo" affliction lol, this series in simplification has helped a lot...I'm getting better at stopping! And my new mantra is "Don't be a slave to the photo"

03-17-2016, 08:53 AM
Raini, each time I stop by and look at the beach painting, I'm impressed at how real the skin looks on the guys legs. Whatever you did there, it's perfect!

03-17-2016, 02:53 PM
Great lessons Don. Thank you for spending so much of your time researching and writing for the benefit of this art community.

Ruth I remember seeing your painting on FB; well done. btw: I also enjoy reading about your adventures with Millie; she's one lucky pup!

Kim I'm impressed with you choosing the figure since you aren't as familiar with them. However, I suspect you are very good at observing and drawing so it doesn't matter much what you are painting; it's all about observation. Good job on both of your paintings.

03-21-2016, 10:40 AM
Thank you Peggy, I appreciate the kind words and advice. I am finding myself people-watching a lot more these days since I started trying some figure drawing.

03-21-2016, 01:22 PM
Dear all,

Here's my attempt of the photo with the tree. Done on simple drawing notebook paper with my little daughter's crayons.

Comments and criticisms welcome.


- Srineet.
P.S. Loved all the photos from the spotlight and the paintings in the thread.


03-21-2016, 02:40 PM
Isn't that pretty! And crayons. How cheerful. I love the way you made the white clouds. Your color choices go well together.

03-21-2016, 09:27 PM
Great lessons Don. Thank you for spending so much of your time researching and writing for the benefit of this art community.

Thanks Peggy!

03-21-2016, 09:28 PM
Srineet, Thanks for joining us! You've shown us that you can keep things simple with our art materials, too! Nicely done!


03-22-2016, 10:37 AM
Very nice, Srineet. I am impressed that you could do that with crayons and drawing paper.

03-22-2016, 11:33 PM
Nice simplification Srineet! Good job with the crayons too, I have tried working with them and Found them difficult to blend!

03-23-2016, 02:12 PM
Many thanks Jay, Don, Kim and Raini for your kind words and encouragement. Now I feel like trying out a few more :)

- Srineet.

03-24-2016, 08:27 AM
This reference was taken locally and a special request by my daughter. I put it off for months because I was afraid it would be too garish. But it's her birthday so..had to give it a try. The photo has enhanced the color a bit, especially the blue. This is 11 x 14 on La Carte with Nupastel first and then mostly Schmincke.

Don...I tried to simplify but there was a lot here in the reference.

This little river beach is called Dog Beach in Manasquan, NJ. A special request.

Comments and critique welcome.

03-24-2016, 08:52 AM
Wow! That sky is stunning, Jay! Very nice!

03-24-2016, 09:39 AM
Thanks Kim. I was holding my breath over two days with this one. Whew!

03-24-2016, 01:39 PM
Sorry I've neglected this post for awhile. I'm going to play catch up on this the three pieces I see on page two.

Ruthie your sunflowers are lovely; nice simplification on the background. Just one comment for you to consider. Look at the bottom of your vase. The ellipse looks a bit flat instead of rounded.

Kim your bicycle riders are very well done. The placement of the figures looks almost like a time lapse sequence of one rider moving forward; great movement as well as simplification.

Jay you should be very happy with your first portrait. The way you've painted this makes me think of the dreamy/foggy feeling one can get when deeply involved in reading a good book.

03-24-2016, 02:06 PM
Jay, this is very lovely! And, though I haven't seen the ref, it seems quite simplified! The sky is alive, but mainly made up of larger shapes. The tree line is a completely simplified silhouette. Water - very simple and bold! The only detail (and even that is simplified) is in the foreground rocks. I think we have seen in these last few months, that simplifying is the path to bold statements! This is bold and beautiful!


03-24-2016, 02:26 PM
Jay I concur with Don. I also think the action of the sky is quite lovely. 👍

03-24-2016, 08:26 PM
Thank you Don! That means a lot.

Peggy, thank you. I appreciate your commenting.

03-25-2016, 06:46 AM
Jay ..Wow...beautiful, I love that streak of yellow light in the sky and on the tips of your trees! It has me dreaming of an early morning stroll along the beach, watching a gorgeous sunrise...great atmosphere and warmth!

03-25-2016, 09:28 PM
Shhhh!...I think everyone is napping...tiptoe, crash..ooops! Dark in here!
Hmmm, Ill just put this here for now. hope they like it...

03-26-2016, 07:18 AM
I wanna sit down with them! What are they watching? I love paintings that make me curious!!! I like how the lights play on the water. The group is nicely done. Like her scarf and mitten. Very nice

03-26-2016, 08:22 AM
Very nice! I Love the mood set by the colors and the simplicity. I had the same thoghts regarding filling in a story.

03-26-2016, 10:25 AM
Raini, Very nice! Simple shapes with little detail and a simple color scheme - something we didn't even talk about!


03-26-2016, 07:13 PM
Nice figures, and limited (simplified) color palette. 👍

03-26-2016, 11:07 PM
Thanks Jay, Kim, Don and Peggy
It was one I did a while ago, came across it as I was looking thru past works. Thought I would share as it seemed to fit in with the simplification theme.

03-27-2016, 09:39 AM
That seems like a good idea...to find Don's lessons and then do the art.

Hope everyone is having lovely Blessed spring day. And Peace.

03-27-2016, 01:10 PM
Srineet, wow! Not just crayons but a small box with a limited, bright palette expertly used. Well done and well simplified. It's tricky making some of those children's materials function at all let alone well, I remember how much crayons frustrated me as a child versus pens or paint!

Jay, that scene is spectacular. Simplifying isn't just reducing to a certain level, it's conciseness, like poetry. Every stroke is needed. That's beautiful and not cluttered, every bit of cloud or tree or mass is necessary. Well done.

Raini, awesome! Powerful, unified, moody and simple. What happens at this level is that it's clearly art and so evocative. Your figures have a lot of personality, caught in a moment of action and interaction.

I'm not sure which of them I'll do but health permitting I'll try for one of the references. Eh, simplifying may be easy given limited energy, if I can do anything it will be simplified to fit my limited working time in a small size.

03-27-2016, 06:45 PM
Thanks Robert, appreciate your comments!
Hope you are on the mend and enjoying the spring weather...its here isnt it? Yup, there goes my neighbor with bunny ears on lol! Spring has sprung!

03-28-2016, 06:05 AM
Thanks for your comments, Robert. Hope you feel well enough to join us. Hope the spring weather is helpful to you.

03-28-2016, 08:33 AM
It's my variant of sunflowers. Koh-i-hoor and Holbein pastels on La Carte.

03-28-2016, 01:29 PM
Nice variety on the flowers, Midian. Welcome to pastels.

03-28-2016, 09:59 PM
Midian, Thanks for joining us! Very nice job on the sunflowers! I hope you will continue to join us here on the Spotlight!


03-29-2016, 07:23 AM
Welcome, midian, I love your variant of the sunflowers. i look forward to seeing more from you :)

03-29-2016, 08:03 AM
Welcome to Pastels Midian! Well done on the sunflowers, love the hit of blue in the background!

03-29-2016, 09:58 PM
Welcome Midian. This is a nice simplification of the subject; lovely color palette too.

03-31-2016, 04:26 PM
This thread is just what I've been looking for of late!