View Full Version : The Spotlight - November 2016 - Fall Colors

10-31-2016, 09:59 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...Fall Colors!

Every year about this time, we take a month here on the Spotlight and celebrate the beauty of Fall colors! Here in the northeastern USA, the beauty of the Fall colors gives us one final reason to celebrate - and be inspired by - the beauty of nature before winter settles in! Unfortunately, the weather does not always cooperate - as we have had many gloomy, cold, rainy days over the past two weeks - just as the colors were becoming their most brilliant! Nonetheless, every time that sun came out, my camera, my dog, and I went out looking for this month's references!

And here they are! (all photos by me)







Please feel free to use your own Fall color references this month! Hopefully, wherever you live, you are able to experience some of the brilliant colors that nature provides!

And, as always, feel free to modify my references as you wish!

Have fun!


11-01-2016, 03:53 AM
Of course! what other subject could it possibly be for November! Lovely photos Don. I love the close up of the leaves waiting to fall, great negative shapes there. I may try that one. I may also do one from my fall photos taken in Ontario. That trip now seems a lifetime ago, even though I've only been home 2 weeks.

11-01-2016, 06:19 AM
Beautiful trees, Don. Thank you so much for doing these Spotlights.

11-01-2016, 10:21 AM
Thanks Don,
Several of your photos take my fancy...
first up the pathway with the shadows across the path and the deep shadow as the trail disappears.
I recently completed this example... early autumn and the leaves are just beginning to change. The morning fog was dissipating so the light was soft.
I'll look forward to tackling your more dramatic pathway.

Rembrandt and Sennelier pastels on brown drawing paper.
Comments welcome.
Cheers Leslie

11-01-2016, 01:10 PM
Wow Leslie that is so soft and romantic! Lovely :)

11-01-2016, 01:18 PM
Well, I decide to do the close up of the leaves first. I cropped the pic square as i thought the subject lent itself to a square format. Done on blue colourfix paper. 7x7" Two WIP pics and then the finish. I think I like the block in best :D




11-01-2016, 01:21 PM
Lovely, Leslie That's a look i enjoy! Makes me want to take the path and linger. I want to know what is behind everything. Good job.

I'm not crazy about my work today. Uart 240 but I used pencil and pans. I know, crazy. But always learning. so here it is. only 5 x 7 because I "knew"!! The 240 is very rough!! I had to go over edges with a Q tip to get the dust off. But...I'll show you guys anyway. NOT getting framed! AS ALWAYS, ALL COMMENTS WELCOME.

11-01-2016, 03:27 PM
Ruthie and Jay...you are tempting me to try the sanded papers as your colours are so luscious... Ruthie strong and vibrant.... Jay soft and illusive.

My fav art store is finally stocking both UART and Colourfix

plus St Armand Sabertooth (that sound's fierce)

...where shall I begin?

11-01-2016, 03:45 PM
Thanks Leslie. Looking forward to seeing your work on sanded paper.

Ruthie, we posted at the same time. Very nice leaves! Thanks for showing your steps. My favorite part of your is those very light highlights. I like your background too. Did not like using the 240 grade on mine.

11-01-2016, 04:22 PM
Thaks Leslie and Jay!
Leslie, never heard of that last paper. Oh, I must catch up. They keep introducing new papers these days. Eventually they will filter over to the UK I suppose......
Jay, I think you're brave using the 240 grit. I've never tried that but think it must be quite fierce! And Pans too. I could never really get on with them. I sold mine (which I won in a competition) some time back. I like the soft look you achieved! The leaves look ephemeral, as if they are wafting in a breeze. And, let's face it, Fall leaves ARE ephemeral!

water girl
11-01-2016, 08:25 PM
Leslie, you have beautiful soft touch.
Ruthie, you have captured the glow, and thank you for the steps.
Jay, this does not disappoint in any way. I really like the feeling of movement.

11-02-2016, 06:39 AM
Thank you Ruthie and Karen. The 240 came in a sample pack. Will not be buying it. I appreciate the encouragement, girls.

11-02-2016, 08:31 AM
Leslie, What a lovely, atmospheric painting! Certainly makes me want to go down that path!

Ruth, Very nice and bold with the leaves! Very strong!

Jay, Not sure why you're not happy with this - it has wonderful movement and great shapes! Those leaves are alive and you can feel that autumn breeze slicing through!


11-02-2016, 08:46 AM
Thanks Don. I guess my frustration of the moment was coloring my view. My goal is keep painting and grow. So I painted. I appreciate the encouragement.

11-02-2016, 09:24 AM
Leslie - this is beautiful! I love the softness, it has such a tranquil feel to it
Ruthie - Thanks for posting your wip - I really like how your leaves pop - the colors are so vibrant!
Jay - I think this turned out great! I just love your blending of the golds/browns and yellows. 240 is a hard grit to use (tried it once and gave up!) - I think you did a fantastic job :)

Guess I'd better start getting busy if I don't want to be left behind! I have a goal of doing at least 2 challenges a month - I know, I know, lofty goal, but I love the challenges because they force me to try images I wouldn't normally pick for myself and they make me think about stuff before I start ( I have a tendency to just jump right in, sometimes without even a rough sketch!) - lol - I am a nut :)

11-02-2016, 10:39 AM
Thanks CaliAnn. I'm looking forward to seeing what you do..and hey! /show us the sketch too!!! Love to see it all.

11-02-2016, 05:03 PM
Ok Jay: here is my work in progress to finish, including my "sketch" lol!
NuPastel on canson mt black 4.5 x 6 c&c welcome

First I dab on some color to create my sketch - then I smoosh things around with my fingers - then I dab/smoosh more color until I think I"m done:

11-02-2016, 07:00 PM
Wow CaliAnn..you have three works of art in one! The first "work" is dramatic with the black showing, the second "work" is ethereal. (I love the greens in that version.). And the third work reminds me of undulating underwater grasses. I like the part where the filmy blue is over the black but we can still see the black.

11-03-2016, 04:10 AM
Leslie, I really like the soft magical look of your painting.
Ruthie, you really know your colours! The bold glow of the leaves and square format makes for a beautiful painting. Your steps make it look so simple which takes great skill.
Jay I have to agree with the others the leaves sparkle and dance on the page. Maybe look again later and you will see it too!!
I have been lurking and you have all done such wonderful work and you are tempting me away from the mud. I have been working at handbuilding clay and been quite profitable with it but one day I will come back to the dusty side!

11-03-2016, 07:39 AM
Hey Jen! Good to see you. We miss you! Thanks about my leaves. But your clay is profitable! Nice! Come soon for a dusty visit.

11-03-2016, 10:01 AM
Hi Jen,
Join us on the dusty side! :wave:
...there's a theme going on here..
sensual pleasures of clay are not unlike getting your hands into some pastel blending (dabbing and smooshing)....
most colourfully demonstrated by CaliAnn.:clap:

I, too am often tempted to skip the sketching step and just jump right in!
not always successfull though...:cool:

Cheers Leslie

11-03-2016, 11:02 AM
Ha ha Leslie - like my technical terms of "dab & smoosh" - lol! I make it up, I make it up! :) When I do my paintings this way - it almost feels like finger painting - so fun! (but, lots of them end in the trash 'cuz they end up just plain oogly!)

water girl
11-03-2016, 12:44 PM
CaliAnn, your dabbing and smooshing are very successful. Mat and frame this one!

11-03-2016, 02:58 PM
Thanks Karen :)

11-04-2016, 06:22 AM
Love the dabbing and smooshing CaliAnn. Canson is great for doing that! Nice finish too, lovely textural look yo have got there!

Hey Jen, long time no see! Sorry I neglected you and it's nice to hear you've found another artistic outlet! You cannot completely abendon dust for mud though, surely? :)

11-04-2016, 08:25 AM
CaliAnn, Nice job dabbing and smooshing! I think your terms are catching on!

Jen, Nice to see you! I think those pastels are calling....


11-04-2016, 11:36 AM
Oh wow! PURR!!!! Don, love the photos and theme! This month I might do one. Might be late in the month, depends on noveling, but still! So tempting!

Divasin, gorgeous painting. I really like the misty atmosphere in it and the way it draws me right in. It seems high saturation but it's very soft and cool. Love it.

Ruthie, wow, eye-popping autumn color! Love what you did with those overlapping shapes and all the grand motion. You've dazzled this time.

Jay, I like your yellower leaves, very different interpretation but still gorgeously lively. Excellent painting!

CaliAnn, your marigolds are so bright on the dark ground! Love the way you softened them with the blurred layer and then restated them, took the edge off the contrast and kept the feel of them. Beautiful.

Not sure what I'll do yet, maybe one of the references or maybe something right outside my door but put together from various views - the red turning sumac, the great orange-russet oak, the green pines... it's getting colorful around here and something, either skinny trees or vines on pines, gets little sharp clumps of bright cadmium orange intense leaves in among the greens.

11-04-2016, 01:26 PM
Thanks Ruthie, Don & Robert :)

11-04-2016, 02:45 PM
Thanks Robert. Glad to hear you're having a beautiful fall. Waiting to see it.

11-04-2016, 04:36 PM
Thanks Robert! I hope you manage to get one done. The Sumachs in Canada were fantastic! By the way, are you still in San Francisco or have you moved?

11-06-2016, 04:55 PM
I moved last December to Arkansas to be with my family, my daughter came and drove me here. It's been almost a year since the move. I'm on a farm with three barn cats and two indoor cats, plus goats, a sheep, chickens, a weird Tim Burtonesque duck and horses. Plenty of bird and animal subjects. The cats are all serious mousers. I miss Ari constantly but Kyra's a sweet kitten and they had some time together before he passed, he liked her a lot. He always liked kittens.

The barn cats cluster on cold or wet days and one day when it rained I got all three on me at the same time. The two boys piled on my lap on top of each other while the little queen climbed up to my shoulders and they all purred. I couldn't move for cats.

I love red Sumac bushes. They turned sort of late this year but now some patches of them are blazing. Others are half green and half red, a little startling and bright. But a great many trees are just going directly to brown, which is a weather thing Kitten says is specifically how dry it was rather than rainy, they'd have been brighter if we had more rain.

11-06-2016, 05:33 PM
Robert, I'm so sorry to hear about Ari. I hope you find great joy with the animals near you now.

11-06-2016, 09:32 PM
Nice work everyone, we don't have fall colours here, we have green or not so green with a bit of yellow now and then from the wattle flowers.
I am doing the annual portrait swap at the moment but I hope to have time to join in on this challenge too, those pumpkins are calling me :)

11-07-2016, 03:30 AM
Robert, I hope you've settled well in Arkansas. It sounds great to me! So sorry to learn about Ari. Good that there are other cats around you. he is there, in all of them :)
Dea, I must head over to the portrait swap and have a look. I have a great memory of doing this, particularly one year :D

11-07-2016, 08:42 AM
Robert, So sorry to hear about Ari. Glad to hear you are surrounded by many other cats and animals. I'm sure they help ease the pain.


11-11-2016, 07:05 AM
Earlier in the month one of Don's pictures captured my imagination..
Here's my contribution.
Rembrandt, Nupastel and Sennelier on a piece of dark brown drawing paper.
I made a few changes in the composition to suit my purposes...primarily making the foreground trees brighter and the tall trees more substantial.

Thanks again to Don.. I'm enjoying the challenge of seeing what he will come up with next!


11-11-2016, 07:26 AM
Beautiful Leslie. Just beautiful. I love the shadows coming down the hill. The shadows crossing the road. You did that perfectly.

11-11-2016, 09:04 AM
Just gorgeous Leslie! I love the trees, the shadows, the light ... well you get it, I love it! :)

11-11-2016, 11:03 AM
Nice one Leslie! My eye is drawn right down that road towards the tree cover, which Iwant to investigate!

11-11-2016, 02:41 PM
Thanks Ladies!
This particular forum gives me just the motivation I need.
Cheers Leslie

11-11-2016, 09:15 PM
Hello all,

Have been unable to paint much since school started, so I've just been lurking here, learning. Today just happened to fall right so that I could get in a little painting, so I decided to try the fall colors spotlight. I felt that I wanted to choose a different photo than those suggested, so I did and I've just finished the underpainting. I'll try to finish before November is over, lol.


11-11-2016, 09:53 PM
Leslie, absolutely lovely painting! The green/orange color scheme works beautifully!


11-12-2016, 01:18 PM
Ok! I can't believe I painted this so fast...I guess I may be learning.:angel:

Reference photo--by Glennis Weston over on Paint-My-Photo:

Progress as of last night:

I didn't like the sky at all, the left-hand side was too light, and I knew there was more to do, but it was bed time. Have you noticed that if you sleep, sometimes in the morning you have solutions?

Here is the practically finished piece. I'm just propping it up where I can look at it for a few days to see if there is anything I need to change. Obviously take into consideration computer monitors and the limitations of phone cameras...some of the things that seem weird don't appear in the picture in real life. Like the graininess of the area on the upper left.

12X12, Dayler-Rowney Murano pastel paper, nupastel/alcohol underpainting, pan pastel, cheap student and some Mungyo Gallery pastels.

Gentle C & C appreciated.


11-12-2016, 01:44 PM
Shall be,
You must have been in the zone:lol:
An unusual photo , interesting colours and textures.
I like it!

11-12-2016, 02:26 PM
Thank you, Leslie.

11-13-2016, 10:25 AM
Nice work shallbe! I love the way you have made the yellow sunkist foliage pop out.
If you're still not happy with the sky...and if there is any tooth left, why not consider making it bluer? (I know the photo doesn't show and sky really) A cool blue sky would be the perfect complement to the orange and yellows.
having said that it's very good as it is :)

11-13-2016, 10:29 AM
I started this one a couple of weeks ago, again from my Canada trip. the ref is from one of about a million photos I took on the move as a front seat passenger!
I left it because I decided it was absolute rubbish and needed brushing off. When I looked at it today I thought, no, it has some potential. So I did a little brushing off, lightened the sky and all of a sudden it looked better so I brought it to what may be a finish. Still not my favourite but I feel better about it now. :)
This one's pretty big too, a half sheet of fisher 400 sanded paper.


11-13-2016, 12:31 PM
Ruth, your use of pink and burgundy in that lovely piece is excited.

The sky is actually a little bluer than it shows up in the photo... I've got a little tooth left, but because there's some yellow under there that can't be removed, I'm afraid anything blue I put on there is just going to turn green.

I am motivated to paint this again, I think, and include the tree on the right, and hopefully adjust the all over color as well, though I quite like the happy accident of this one.


11-13-2016, 04:19 PM
Hello everybody,

I have been lurking for a while but it looks like the nice fall pictures got me motivated (Nice photos, Don!).

The Marigolds and the pumpkins looked like a good start. I'm not so happy with mine, I certainly need more practice.
(C&C welcome)


11-13-2016, 05:02 PM
Fana, I don't believe anyone else has tackled the marigolds... Congratulations!

I did try to add blue in the sky. Just as I suspected, it all turned green.

I can't post a picture from my phone to illustrate, unfortunately.


11-13-2016, 06:51 PM
Very nice Shallbe. I like your textured bark. And the mystery area on the right.

Ruth, I love this. The pink road, the white tree trunks peeking out...but I'm fascinated by those red leaves in the shadow side. I really like them.

Fans, you have a good thing going with those marigolds. The shapes of the flowers is lovely. What is bothering you? You did a really great job on those pumpkins!

Fana, i hope you get to show us. Maybe green will be lovely!

11-13-2016, 07:09 PM
Shallbe, You've done a nice job with a very difficult reference! I have some thoughts that I will send to you in a PM (Private Message).

Ruth, Very nice! I would be very happy with this! Lovely colors and a nice colorful road with beautiful transparent shadows!

Fana, Thanks for joining us! You've done a nice job on both of your paintings! Let us know what paper and pastels you are using. It may help is give some advice to make you happier!


11-13-2016, 10:01 PM
Shallbe, that looks like a hard ref photo, well done with it.
Fana, nice job on the marigolds, I find flowers hard and I have also painted the pumpkins, they weren't as easy as I thought they would be either.
Ruthie, Wow! will you please come here and teach me how to paint like that, it's only a short commute :) Oh and that particular year of the portrait swap is my favourite of all the portraits I have recieved over the years,

11-13-2016, 10:04 PM
My computer won't let me post pic for some reason since it was updated so had to post on my phone, here are my pumpkins

11-13-2016, 10:32 PM
Dea, my situation is the opposite...I cannot post pics from my phone at all. I have to post from a computer. Which involves taking the photo with my phone, emailing it to myself, downloading it to my computer, then uploading it to WC.

Your highlights on the big pumpkin make it really pop!

I loved the edits Don suggested, and I completed them tonight. I will upload the result tomorrow.


11-14-2016, 07:56 AM
Edited as per Don's suggestions...


I think it is much improved.


11-14-2016, 02:51 PM
shallbe - very pretty. I love the golden glow of the trees, especially in the edited version - very nicely done!
Ruthie - so vibrant! I love those pops of intense color. That's how I remember fall colors (when I used to live somewhere where we actually had a fall), just the occasional splash of color here and there, Beautiful!
Fana - I actually like both the marigolds and the pumpkins! Really nice job on depicting the marigold petals :)
Deanna - your pumpkins look great - I especially love the big one, so well done!

11-14-2016, 03:29 PM
Don, thanks for the Welcome!

I forgot all the information, I have not posted for years.
The paintings I did are 2 sheets of very old velvetpaper, must be 30 years old, the pastels Nupastel and Rembrandt.

A few weeks ago I started a 10-week Pastel class, mainly landscape. We are using Uart 400, underpaint with Nupastel, brush it down with alkohol, then paint with regular pastels. I am getting better but I feel I overwork everything. Once I'm home things get changed around and erased till it is so "improved" that the painting is dead.

I think following your Spotlight will certainly help, I can only get better.

11-14-2016, 04:16 PM
Shallbe, thanks for the congratulations, I have never done any flower in pastel before.
I like your tree, the pale blue looks very nice.

Jay, thanks! I have never done pumpkins before either.
I like your yellow maples, especially the background. Not sure why you don't like them, they look like they are moving.

Deanna, your pumpkins are great, I wish I could do that!

CaliAnn, thank you! I like your Marigolds too, they look nice and loose. Matting and framing sounds good :).

Leslie, I like your pathway, especially the second one.

Ruthie, the leaves are such a rich colour. It is interesting for me to see the stages.
Your autumn road looks inviting for a walk, very nice.

11-23-2016, 02:18 PM
I had to try my favorite tree. Thank you, Don!

Nupastel, Rembrandts on Uart 400.
C & C welcome


11-23-2016, 04:51 PM
I love the color Fana. I'm trying to buy a fall bush JUST that color! And those fallen leave, the shadows. Lovely. So soft. Very nice.

Wishing everyone, all our pastel friends, a wonderful day tomorrow. Happy Thanksgiving.

11-24-2016, 12:56 PM
Happy Thanksgiving to you, too, Jay!

Thanks, I think that tree is a sugar maple. The colours are really something, good enough to eat :)

11-24-2016, 06:29 PM
Fana, Very nice painting of the maple!

I, too, want to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving!


11-27-2016, 10:41 AM
Wow! So many beautiful paintings. It's been a while since I looked in here. Ruthie, though you may have your doubts I love that autumn road scene. Fana, great marigolds and cool pumpkins, particularly like the detail on the marigolds. Nice black background too. Gorgeous tree on Uart, that came out so wonderful. Beautiful massed foliage there and striking color. Shallbe, the light in your foliage is incredible!

I don't know if I'll come up with a late one this month or not, been writing every day and also got sick. But if I can I'll try something simple.

11-29-2016, 12:59 PM
Thank you, Robert, glad you liked my tree also. Hope you got well enough to enjoy the turkey!

I have one more for November. The leaves are pretty much gone here in Massachusetts, we got frozen rain overnight.
NuPastel and Rembrandts on 9"x 6" UArt400, C & C most welcome.


11-30-2016, 08:32 AM
Fana, Your leaves are very lovely! Nice color choices and I like that a little of the paper color (or underpainting?) shows through the green background!


11-30-2016, 12:24 PM
Lovely leaves, Fana! I like the composition and the soft colors you used. The bits of background color through the leaves helps to unite them too.

And yes, the cold abated to the point where I was able to enjoy the big meal on Turkey Day! We had some guests and a wonderful dinner, plus the annual caramel apple pie that I loved.