View Full Version : January oil pastel challenge and chat

01-01-2019, 03:48 AM
Happy New Year, friends oil pastelists! :cat:

Welcome to the first challenge of 2019!
I'm hosting this challenge and this time we'll enter the old towns of Europe.

Several years ago my husband and me went abroad for a short trip during New Year holidays which are 8 days long in Russia. So a number of people take advantage of this winter vacation and go travelling.

First time we went to Prague (Czech Republic), the second one was a short cruise with stops in Helsinki (Finland), Stockholm (Sweden) and Tallinn (Estonia).
They were very beautiful! Helsinki was the least impressive actually, but it's not very old.

(Not important but interesting :)
The cool thing was that Christmas atmosphere was still in the air despite it being the beginning of January. European Christmas is charming to us because Christmas is not very big in Russia and is considered more like a religious holiday.
New Year took over as the main holiday of the year during the USSR regime because the communists tried to exclude everything with religious context. Btw, Russians have always celebrated Christmas on the 7th of January because of a different type of calendar used.)

The below photos are all mine except for a few with the authors' credit. Feel free to use them for this January challenge.
Please, indicate what support and size you're using and share WIP photos and explanations if you like :)
You can crop, resize and change the images following your inspiration.

Hope to see your works and let's start this year with oil pastels! :)

First come Prague photos.










01-01-2019, 03:59 AM
These ones are Stockholm:





01-01-2019, 04:09 AM
Tallinn photos. A very charming old town reminding me of Prague (they two are actually about the same age, at least when it comes to th architecture):








This one is a photo from Germany, I got it from Pixabay:

01-01-2019, 04:11 AM
Maybe that was way too many photos... but I was just trying to get everyone involved :angel:

01-01-2019, 08:18 AM
Fantastic selection! I sent you pm.

01-01-2019, 12:42 PM
I am easily overwhelmed by the complexity of cityscapes, but I do see one or two that I might attempt. Thanks for hosting, Mira88! These are really beautiful.

01-01-2019, 02:36 PM
Happy New Year!!!

Wow, great photos. Makes me want to pack up my bags and roam around and get lost. Wonderful city, building practice too. Thanks for hosting Mira!

01-01-2019, 09:10 PM
Happy New Year, all! :)

Wow, lots of impressive cityscapes here. Great job, Mira! Thanks for hosting this month's challenge for us.

01-02-2019, 11:21 AM
Thank you, Christel, Lamar, Terri and Rich! :) I am looking forward to seeing what you'll choose out of these pictures ;)

I am easily overwhelmed by the complexity of cityscapes, but I do see one or two that I might attempt.
Me too :lol: I have never tried a cityscape, not yet, but I will give it a shot :)

Wow, great photos. Makes me want to pack up my bags and roam around and get lost. Wonderful city, building practice too. Thanks for hosting Mira!

When I look at my own pictures, it makes me nostalgic and I also feel like go travelling... These cities really got great architecture. And out of these three cities, Prague is the cheapest to go, by the way. It used to be one of the cheapest yet one of the most beautiful options 4 years ago, I believe it is still relatively modest-priced. So you can go ;) a 8-10 days trip with stops at like 4-5 interesting cities in Europe can be the plan :thumbsup:

01-04-2019, 12:39 PM
Yay! I've started mine! I'm sure glad I've had some practice in the miniature forum:lol: :wave:

01-04-2019, 02:21 PM
Yay! I've started mine! I'm sure glad I've had some practice in the miniature forum:lol: :wave:

:clap: great, great! Curious to see which one you have chosen. I haven't picked up one yet... :clear:
I bought a canvas board and plan to use it for the challenge.
But first I need to finish the two paintings I started in December... :rolleyes:
One of them is actually for December challenge :lol:

01-05-2019, 01:11 PM
A4. My biggest challenge was to get an even sky:angel: i did use pencil for shading and fine detail. The trees are with brown op, black marker and pencil.
Not a photo replica as I intentionally tried to bring in a little more chroma.

01-05-2019, 06:11 PM
Lovely work, Christel! I like your decision to slightly alter the foreground so the trees can spread out more in front of the buildings. Nicely done!

01-05-2019, 11:32 PM
Thanks Terri!

01-06-2019, 03:12 AM
Christel, it turned out very pretty, like a postcard! Reminds me of the fridge magnets we brought from Estonia, the buildings are painted in a similar style ;)
I like how you changed the chroma because I wasn't fond of the original one on the photo - it was a bit boring, maybe because of the trees in the foreground which just looked like a messy forest :lol: but your trees do look great, they stand out and make a nice part of the picture :thumbsup:

01-06-2019, 07:43 AM
Thanks Mira!

01-06-2019, 09:02 PM
Beautiful work Christel. Love the color and composition works great.

01-06-2019, 10:35 PM
Thanks Rich!

01-11-2019, 07:07 PM
12x16 pastelmat. Mostly Mungyos with a few senns. Moved some people around and added a little bit more to the foreground. I'm pretending the couple on the right are posing for a photo.:wink2:

01-11-2019, 10:43 PM
Well done, Rich!

01-12-2019, 04:12 PM
Ha! Monet still walks amongst us. ;) Your sky is so beautifully done, my mind goes immediately to Monet. Did you blend with your fingers or a tool? (The few times I've used Pastelmat, I quickly gave up on much finger-blending to save my skin!)

I like your decision to move the people and your placement in the right lower corner. The eye moves very easily across the frame and rests there.

Terrific work, Rich!

01-12-2019, 09:00 PM
Thanks Christel!

Terri - Thank you!. So I used a stump to do most of the blending. But I first covered it with colorless oil blender stick by Sennelier. I scrub that on there, then go in with color, then use a stump to blend, and spread the color out. That OP blender by sennelier is the key. Without it I would either change my technique or use solvents.

01-13-2019, 11:54 AM
Interesting technique! I remember us chatting about that Senn blender awhile back, and neither one of us had used it much. But now it seems you've figured out a really neat way to incorporate it into your paintings. I wouldn't have thought about spreading it out first, and then applying color. Your sky here looks so absolutely lovely and delicate!

I do use solvents a lot, but they definitely dry down flat and rough. I've come to appreciate that they can save time only if I want to let a lot of that undercoat show through. The texture just isn't there without lots of layers on top. The Senn stick would definitely help with soft texture.

Just thinking aloud. :) Thanks for sharing the technique!

01-13-2019, 12:32 PM
Wonderful, Rich! You got the atmosphere just right - it was a frosty (-20 C!) Tallinn morning and I can feel it in the painting! The people you incorporated look were natural and lively, great improvising! :thumbsup:
You need to upload the 2nd one too, it got some marvellous colors :clap:

01-13-2019, 02:33 PM
Terri- I'm using that op blender stick on pretty much every painting. I'll go over it a lot more in detail on youtube. It's easier to show that way.

Mira - Thank you! A year ago, I wouldn't have attempted a scene like that. Lots of details to look at. 100+ paintings later, I'm seeing things different and gained more confidence.

01-13-2019, 02:38 PM
Here is another one from Tallinn Estonia. My focus was to bring in the warmth and light to that main tower. 12x16 mungyos/senns/neopastel on pastelmat.

first layer - nupastel to sketch, figure out composition and cover the paper
second layer - workable fixative over the entire surface
Third layer and subsequent layers - Mungyo/neopastel and then Senns for top layers and highlights.

I also used that op blender stick quite a bit.

01-13-2019, 04:10 PM
Good Stuff, Christel and Rich!

01-13-2019, 10:19 PM
Lovely, Rich! I like the combination of greys with warmer colors.

01-15-2019, 04:35 PM
Beautiful! I love your sky color here - it goes so perfectly against that orange-y sunlight. Those stark trees look awesome in front of the sky. Terrific job on this pretty scene.

01-17-2019, 02:29 PM
Interesting technique! I remember us chatting about that Senn blender awhile back, and neither one of us had used it much. But now it seems you've figured out a really neat way to incorporate it into your paintings.

Terri, Rich, maybe you could share some of your ideas about this Senn blender in this thread: http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1459879
It must be a great thing, I'd love to hear more about ways to use it :)

01-17-2019, 02:32 PM
Rich, I absolutely love the way you rendered snow in the latest painting - it's soft, glimmering with wonderful colors... and the tower, even if you said in the live session you didn't try to make it very detailed, it got really good and distinct texture :thumbsup:

In a day or two I will finally start working on a January challenge painting too ;)

01-18-2019, 05:26 PM
Thanks, Mira! I often fail to look around other areas of our OP forum, so I missed this thread earlier. :)

01-18-2019, 07:17 PM
Thank you Lamar, Christel, Mira and Terri.

01-21-2019, 10:31 PM
I tried the swans, 7,5x10, and I do think the photo looks bluer than real life:clear:

01-22-2019, 03:27 AM
Excellent work in this thread everyone, well done x

01-22-2019, 12:07 PM
Beautiful Christel! Water movement is great!

01-22-2019, 05:25 PM
Christel, I had a feeling you would go for those swans! ;) Beautiful job with them, excellent detail with those beaks!

I agree with Rich on your water movement. Lovely palette here!

01-22-2019, 10:36 PM
Thanks Rich and Terri and Sarah!

01-23-2019, 05:59 AM
I also thought Christel would definitely choose the swans :D
cropping the picture was a good idea - there were so many swans in the original it would be tedious to draw them all.
They look very nice, and the water is very beautiful :)

01-23-2019, 11:18 AM
Thanks Mira!

01-23-2019, 11:37 AM
Here's my take on foggy Prague. I really liked that bridge with the cars passing over and decided to zoom in and crop that part. 12x16.

01-23-2019, 01:39 PM
Lovely! I like your idea to zoom in on certain areas of the ref photos.

Being able to add so many touches of the warm yellows makes the otherwise grayness of the scene very cozy. Really liking the misty quality you achieved with the sky and background buildings, too. Nice!

01-23-2019, 03:56 PM
It turned out super cool, Rich! Veeeeery convincing!
I wonder how you did those little windows :) I chose a Stockholm scene and am struggling with thr numerous windows now :D

01-23-2019, 10:26 PM
Beautiful work, Rich!

01-24-2019, 03:09 AM
Morning! Raizes, Prague looks fantastic! Very atmospheric :thumbsup:

Tuscanny, I'm happy to host another challenge soon, I've been collecting photos.

01-24-2019, 04:24 AM
Morning! Thanks, that'll be great! Next month for you ok?

01-24-2019, 05:05 AM
Yep, next month is fine :thumbsup:

01-24-2019, 11:08 AM

01-24-2019, 02:38 PM
I haven't posted her for a while. I modified the picture and got basically what I wanted. it is about 4 X 6 inches or so.



01-24-2019, 07:39 PM
Good to see you back Ed. Love the bright colors and texture here, and how the road swoops back like that. I can feel that curve

01-24-2019, 10:48 PM
Welcome back, Ed! Good sense of distance. Lovely color combination.

01-25-2019, 12:49 PM
Thanks Christel and Rich. I'm hoping to have time to do more now.

01-26-2019, 02:26 PM
Hi Ed! I chose the same Prague photo to try. Yours is much brighter than mine. I like how you curved the street, too. Very nice interpretation!

01-26-2019, 02:48 PM
Here is my version of the Prague street scene. I made a lot of mistakes with proportions, and there's a lot of scratching out and re-doing here. I still see leading lines that are off in a few places, plus other mistakes -but I'm calling it done. :angel: This is on 12x16 Pastelmat with Mungyos and a few Senns.


Mira, is that you in the photo? :thumbsup:

01-26-2019, 10:17 PM
Terri, Nice work! Even though proportions are little off, I think you did great. Love the road, and the various shades and textures there. I like the people too and foreground with Mira standing next to that open shop. It's a tough scene to begin with.

01-26-2019, 11:17 PM
Terri - well done! I especially like the texture of the road. Your detailing is great.

01-27-2019, 06:54 AM
Terri, it turned out very nice and I like how bright colors pop out among the muted ones :thumbsup:
Yepp, that is me, I used to have long hair ;) and it's funny for me to see how you captured my posture - I always stand like that, not very straight, leaning to one side - and you captured that in this little figure! :thumbsup:
The road looks awesome - it is lit up (which was not in the original so the original looked kinda dull) so the atmosphere is brighter and happier in your version ;)
And this thing on the left (i have no idea what I can call it) is also a bright spot with cute little details. I like your work! :)

I am almost done with mine. Those windows are so cumbersome to draw - now I see why many people skipped this challenge - too many windows :lol:

01-27-2019, 12:46 PM
Rich, Christel and Mira - thanks for the kind words! You're being generous with your comments. ;) This one was trickier than I thought it would be!

I like your long hair, Mira!

01-28-2019, 10:58 AM
Terri, great job. Lots of great detail. Very pleasing rendition.

01-28-2019, 11:17 AM
Thank you, Ed!

01-29-2019, 04:05 AM
Hello purpletrader and welcome back! Lovely mood in your painting and a sense of mystery.

Terriks, beautiful colours and the road is fantastic. Mira's looking good :)

01-29-2019, 12:45 PM
Thank you, Sarah!

01-30-2019, 08:26 AM
My version of the winter Stockholm :) Man, I had planned to do at least two paintings for the challenge, but only managed to do one...
It took quite a long time to work on this one. Maybe later today I'll post WIP photos of the scraping technique I used for windows :)
Only now when I was editing the photos I noticed the church is leaning to the side... :rolleyes:

Oh, yes, it is Canson Mi-Teints regular A4 size, light yellow tint :)
I really liked how prussian blue looked on the roofs (on the left), I didn't even blend the color. Not sure if it looks harmonious cause most of the other buildings all blended. But it was a little experiment... I feel like those old buildings require the tooth of the paper to be seens cause the buildings have deteriorated over time, and the paint on the buildings is scraping off in some places.
Did the snow very quickly and carelessly because I didn't feel the foreground was important here. My hubby says it looks more like water :lol:


Some details:

01-30-2019, 08:33 AM
Great going, Mira! Well done! These buildings do take quite a lot of time, especially at that small size you worked with:thumbsup:

01-30-2019, 10:53 AM
Thanks very much, Christel! :)
Yeah... it's first time I did a cityscape, so I was not prepared for the tricky details :D

At the beginning I decided to do the windows by scraping. Recently I read in Ken Leslie's book about how he quickly did the windows by using this technique.
So this is how I started (and doing the sketch with the perspective in mind was tricky too - took me over an hour!)


I was in doubt whether it's a good idea to go light over dark, and yeah, the dark was showing through at the next stage...


I even thought it was a mistake to choose scraping (because of the dark grey showing through). And it turned out that just painting the windows dark grey is not enough - they looked flat and unnatural:


And this is the final image which you've already seen. I made the windows look better by using various dark and light colors to cover most of the dark grey. As for the dark grey base showing through, this was fixed by going over the darker spots with a light color to make it match with the main color of the building. And it worked well!
Though some of the light colors seem harder than others and they nearly peeled off the previous layer. It's all Mungyo OPs.


It was cumbersome indeed and it would probably have taken me the same amount of time to draw all the windows by hand, but... it was good to give it a try :) and it's interesting that sometimes light goes over dark pretty well, like the ochre dots on the dark brown building on the right.

01-30-2019, 11:54 AM
Nicely done Mira. Very tough scene and you did a great job. I like how the windows are unique as each building has it's own style , just like the photo.

01-31-2019, 12:36 PM
Good job, Mira! Sounds like you were really paying attention to each step, planning out your painting. You probably learned a lot just with this one painting! I like your treatment of the blue rooftops, and agree that just not blending can help with texture, especially with that Mi-Teintes paper. That paper is a good one to reach for when you know you want some texture.

Good job on the windows, and very nice palette. I find cityscapes very challenging, personally. You did great!

01-31-2019, 02:24 PM
Thank you, Rich! :)
Haha, actually I tried hard to choose an easier cityscape... but in the end, most of cityscapes are tough :lol:

Thank you, Terri :) Glad you liked it! it was my first cityscape and I had no idea how to do it, so I was moving slowly and tried to think of my steps ahead... Yes, I've learned quite a bit and enjoyed it too :)
I do most of my works on Canson Mi-Teints because it's one of the most easily available and affordable kinds here. Today I got my sample pack of 7 kinds of sanded papers from Jackson's art... so I will try to a very different surface soon ;)