View Full Version : The Spotlight - October 2017 - Cliffs and Canyons

09-30-2017, 10:28 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…Cliffs and Canyons!

A few weeks ago, my brother and his wife took a vacation to New Mexico and southern Colorado. They brought back a lot of photos of some very impressive scenery. Being lazy…and trying to keep my workload to a minimum, I asked my brother if I could use some of his photos for my next Spotlight. He said, “Sure!...What’s a Spotlight?” So without further ado, let’s put our Spotlight on Cliffs and Canyons!

Scenic areas where there are cliffs, canyons, and rock formations have been a popular theme for artist thru the years. While there are many paintings based on those themes, and many artist who have painted them, I thought I would show some examples of a few.

One painter who painted numerous cliff paintings was our good friend, Claude Monet!

One of my all-time favorite paintings is this oil of the Cliffs of Etretat!


Here are two Monet paintings of the same scene, the church at Varengeville.



Apparently (based on the article I was reading that showed these and other paintings in the area) Monet was experimenting with doing similar paintings – one with figures in them, the other without. Although the figures are hard to see, I think they are in center, bottom of the 2nd version directly above. Although the church helps give us the scale of the cliffs, putting people into a painting gives us a known measuring stick to help us get the impression of the size of those cliffs! In the Etretat painting, it is the boats on the water that help us understand how large the cliffs are.

Another painter who painted many cliff and canyon paintings was Edgar Payne. Here are just two of many such paintings. Notice that Payne is also putting in figures (and horses) to help us judge the scale.


http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/30-Sep-2017/[email protected]_37.jpg

A contemporary painter who I think does absolutely lovely paintings of cliffs, rocks, canyons and similar scenes is Bill Cone. Here are some of his pastel paintings. Keep in mind that these paintings are under copyright and can’t be copied or reproduced and are being used for educational purposes. (Or maybe I should say – inspirational purposes!)




I hope these paintings help inspire you!

OK, now onto the references. Don’t worry about putting figures into the paintings! I just thought it was interesting to see some of the paintings with and without figures and how one judges the scale of things. Of course, there may be other objects (such as trees) that help us understand the scale. I’ve also added a few other references that have no cliffs and canyons whatsoever!

All photos by Michael Ketchek:







As always, feel free to modify the references!

And have fun painting!


10-03-2017, 06:33 AM
Phew, what a challenge! But I guess that is why the threat is called so.

As I always wanted to try to paint a gorge, I took a photo of the Sigmund-Thun gorge in Austria as reference.
In the alps we have several spectacular gorges, good destinations for walking tours with kids. :)
So here is "The gorge", all kind of pastels on PastelMat (30x40cm)


C&C always welcome


CM Neidhofer
10-03-2017, 05:51 PM
Did this quite some time back. Thought it might fit in here though. At least until I can find some time to paint something new!

"Red Rapids"


10-04-2017, 09:46 AM
Christine, it fits in here very nicely. The warm colors of the rocks go very well together with the cold colors of the water.


10-04-2017, 09:49 AM
I reworked my gorge, as my husband said "oh there is a funny face in the wall " and I could not stop to see that face afterwards. Don't know why I did not notice it before. :confused:

So here again



10-04-2017, 03:23 PM
Christine and Esther - Both are very well done paintings! The water and the gorges are nicely done!


water girl
10-04-2017, 07:25 PM
Esther, that is hilarious! We all need a "proof reader" from time to time to point out things that are out of place. Either way, though, you make me want to go there.
Christine, I'd say it fits quite nicely.

10-06-2017, 06:05 PM
LOL Esther,
I didn´t see the face until you mentioned it. I once painted a cloud I was proud of. Until my son told me about the hidden piglet...

Both paintings are very nice!

Don, the theme is wonderful. I have been a fan of Bill Cone for years. Albert Handell paints very interesting rocks too. Hopefully, it pushes me to get back to pastels again!

10-08-2017, 01:21 PM
Thank you for your comments Don, Karen, Nick.

Yes that was really funny. My husband complained later, that I removed the face.
It could fit into the "Labyrinth" movie, I loved as a child. A sleeping mountain troll. :lol:

As this theme interests me, I did another one.
Also on PastelMat (30x40 cm) "Dolomites"
Dolomites are a mountain range located in northeastern Italy, 2009 they were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. (And we spent our last summer holidays quite near there)


C&C always welcome


water girl
10-08-2017, 02:07 PM
This is quite lovely. I feel as if I could walk up the steep hillside and settle into a room in the red building, and have a hot chocolate. Nicely done!

10-08-2017, 02:24 PM
And you would certainly get one. And a meal and bed too, if you want.
The house is the "Sillianer Hütte" a mountain hostel along one of the long distant hiking trails through the alps.
All Austrian mountain huts have red and white striped shutters. :)


10-10-2017, 05:27 PM
Esther, Very nice painting! Makes we want to go there!


10-15-2017, 09:07 AM
Hi all,
I've been more "away" than "at home" so haven't had time to participate but am VERY impressed with your work Esther.
Both have a subtle use of colour, I think it's hard to keep those large masses interesting.
I also like the contrasts in texture from softly blended sky and the snow dusted peaks.

10-16-2017, 09:33 AM
Esther...very beautiful. I love the face in the mountain. Was it in your photo? Nicely done!

Christine, beautiful gorge. Love love the water color.

You both did the water movement so well. I’m jealous!

10-16-2017, 11:24 AM
Christine...:eek: the computer gremlins left your name out my post...so again love your "Red Rocks"!

CM Neidhofer
10-16-2017, 01:35 PM
Christine...:eek: the computer gremlins left your name out my post...so again love your "Red Rocks"!


10-20-2017, 02:53 PM
Hello, nice paintings here!!!
And what nice paintings/photos Don showed!! So inspiring (don't know if I spell that word right)

Its very inspiring to see. Hm..I am not able just now to paint with the soft pastels, but I will later. So just now I will have to play with the watercolors I
bought. But nothing is like the softies.

Keep up the good work!

10-23-2017, 02:35 AM
Nice paintings from everyone:clap: Thanks Don for another great spotlight.
Here is my effort from a phot taken in Kununurra in northern Western Australia

water girl
10-23-2017, 01:26 PM
Beautifully done! There is a wonderful softness to your strokes. Yes, those are rocks, but your gentle touch comes through.

10-23-2017, 03:24 PM
Deanna, Very nice painting! I can really feel the sunshine!


10-24-2017, 10:47 PM
Thanks for your kind words Don and Water girl

10-25-2017, 02:52 PM
Dea, I feel as though the light is shimmering off of very hot rocks. Lovely.

10-27-2017, 10:20 AM
JAY is right, the rocks are shimmering very nicely in the light.