View Full Version : Crocus Focus, Finished?

03-29-2005, 05:20 PM
I've been lurking here for 14 months, just a few months after deciding that I needed to make art part of my life. While lurking, I've spend a LOT of time reading the HOF and the other great resources here.

I've found that in order to grow artistically, I have to dare myself to do something "scary". Last summer, I chanllenged myself to complete a color pencil painting and enter it in our local (really small) county fair. Having a goal and a deadline kept me on track. It also scared the heck out of me when it came time to enter it :eek: ; but I'm glad that I did.

Recently, a friend challenged me to enter a painting to be put up for auction this Spring. Proceeds from the auction will help pay for a Healing Garden that has been added to our hospital. Another "scary" situation. But, it's for a good cause and it's going to force me to met a new goal and a new deadline. So today I was thinking that since I was into this Fear Factor thing, I might as well go for broke and post my new piece as a WIP (maybe). The most scariest of all!

This is 7.25 X 5.25 inches on Stonehenge. The reference photo was taken by me last year in our garden. There are spots of masking fluid in spots (I wanted to experiment :) ). I'm just laying the initial colors to get a feel of how it's coming together. When those are all in, I'll go back and work on the colors and values more. What you see has probably taken 6 hours; I'm really, really, really slow! Also, just wanted you to know that I'm not trying to be photo-realistic, just a close representation would be nice. Thanks for looking.


03-29-2005, 05:39 PM
Hi Ria, I'm happy you've decided to take the plunge. You won't be sorry. We're all harmless. No sharp pobjects. Honest.

I work your speed too so we're both slow. The piece is coming along well. Good composition. You'll get some great advice here from super colorists but not me unfortunately. I may be able to help with other stuff though.

I think the method of getting color down initially then going over again and maybe again is a good one. I do this too. This ref shot you chose is a good one. It's as much about light as it is about flowers so maybe keep that in mind.

This will be fun. I'll be watching and commenting. :) :)

03-29-2005, 05:54 PM
Ria, Welcome, welcome welcome!

None of us bite as Tommy said. We try real hard not to at least. From the quality of what I see so far, you have nothing to fear on the critique side of things. When we do critique, its usually along the lines of spurring each other on to a higher level of achievement than we would otherwise settle for. Prodding is what it sometimes is, but always with a bit of humor. And the knowledge that the piece under discussion is yours to determine the direction of.(horrendous English there and my apologies) Yoikes, that was bad English!

Anyway, please do go on. We enjoy new blood. It keeps us all fresh and on our toes. :wave:

Karen Cardinal
03-29-2005, 06:28 PM
Hello Ria and welcome out of lurkdom! :D

Challenging yourself and pushing your limits... that's fantastic! That's exactly how you grow artistically and have artistic breakthroughs. I'm very much into that. ;)

First I have to say I LOVE your ref photo! The one little yellow flower in the sea of purples, blues and greens... what a great idea!

You've got a great start on this too! 6 hours really isn't slow. You've got a lot done for 6 hours. The way you've simplified some of the grass is great. You've got such a great start on this, I'm really looking forward to seeing how this how develops! :D

Anna Dee
03-29-2005, 06:34 PM
Hi Ria

Good start - looking forward to seeing this progress!!

Anna Dee

03-29-2005, 06:48 PM
Oh I think this will be gorgeous! I don't think you should underestimate your talent as a photographer either, that really is a gorgeous shot! I love the light play on the petals of the flowers, like Tommy said, that will be an important thing to capture in your painting. I really love what you've done so far, I've always loved paintings that combine green and purples for some reason. I'll be watching to see how this turns out :)

03-30-2005, 12:39 AM
Gorgeous photo and a very good start! I'm pulling up my chair....oh and WELCOME! :D


03-30-2005, 03:47 AM
Hi Ria, great start, love those shades of purple. It is going to be wonderful when finished. Slow and steady wins the race as they say. I dont think you need worry. Looking forward to seeing this one develop. :D

03-30-2005, 04:09 AM
Hi Ria and welcome.
I love the colours in your photo and you're off to a great start. :clap:


03-30-2005, 04:57 AM
WOW - you're not wrong when you said you're taking a plunge in the deep end! I thought I was jumping into CP head first when I did my Hawk drawing!! This is looking well so far - looking forward to seeing how you progress.

~Claire :)

Katherine T
03-30-2005, 06:19 AM
Hi Ria - (do you prefer Ria or Rita?)

Welcome to the Forum - boy do you like a challenge! But good for you! :clap: :clap: :clap: I'd very much like to echo what Wendy (Catchlight) said.

That photo is really very good indeed - I'm sure they'd love to have it in the Reference Image Library (RIL). Have you ever tried adding photos to this? It's really nice when you get an e-mail to say somebody has commented on your photo and even nicer when somebody e-mails to say your photo is being used as a reference image for a painting and would you like to take a look...........

Could you maybe post an enlargement of the bit you're working on? It's looking good and the colours are great but it would be nice to see it more clearly.



PS And I hope you're not even trying to be photo realist - you've demonstrated you take ace photos - now you just need to see how to convert it into a different form of art and image-making.

03-30-2005, 07:14 AM
Welcome to the cp forum. I'm glad you decided to post. I was scared the first time I posted as well but every painting I have had help on here has turned out many times better than it would have if I just did it on my own. The comments are so helpful and never make you feel bad about what you have done, just suggestions as to how to make it better.

I would like to echo what everyone else has said. You are off to a great start. I look forward to seeing it progress.


Rosa Weitzel
03-30-2005, 09:46 AM
Hello and welcome, I think its wonderful that you are challanging your self, this is the only way we grow. Please come back and share with us, oh I really love your picture also.


03-30-2005, 03:16 PM
Ria: Welcome, what a beautiful photo and your art looks like it will be spectacular also. Please keep posting your progress on this. :cat: Kevin

03-30-2005, 03:50 PM
Whewww! The sacriest part is over! Thank you all so much for the words of encouragement and welcome! I guess, now, I can continue with this piece knowing that I've got you all looking over my shoulder and offering help when I need it. Thanks.

Tommy: It's good to know that you have no sharp objects, except perhaps a few nice sharp colored pencils. That was a real concern, at first. :) It was actually the back-lighting of the flowers that interested me in doing this as a painting. I hope that I can pull it off.

Weezy: The prodding is just what I'm looking for. Thank you for the welcome!

Thank you for the great comments on my ref. photo. My husband surprised me with a digital camera. I've been having a wonderful time clicking away since. Once in a while, a good one shows up.

Karen, Claire, and Rosa: I guess I feel that the bigger the challenge the bigger the rewards. At least I hope that's the case. (Fingers crossed!)

Wendy: Thanks, I hope I don't let anybody (including myself) down.

Katherine: My name is Rita. I went with Ria because I kept running into other Ritas here at WC. Wasn't something that I was use to. I don't care which you use. Thank you for the suggestion that I add this photo to the RIL. I've placed a couple there some time ago. I'll dig around and see what else I can come up with. I'm also posting a larger photo, as you requested.

Again, thank you all of taking a look and taking the time to comment! You all are the best!


03-31-2005, 10:25 AM
I think this is coming along great! I really admire you for setting goals. Just putting your work out there can be scary. It looks like you have been sneaking into my back yard. ;) I have these very same colors coming up in the last week. They are so delicate looking. Can't wait to see where you take this. :wave: wanda

Flame Lily
04-01-2005, 09:37 AM
Rita, this is coming along beautifully. I love the colors and as others have said your photo is really lovely. Very interesting to watch your progress and am looking forward to your next update :wave:

04-01-2005, 10:32 AM
:wave: Hi Wanda and Flame Lily, thanks for dropping by and taking a look!

Wanda, I'm glad to hear that somebody has crocus blooming in their yard. Mine are up but it has snowed and hailed and rained and sleeted everyday since they popped their heads out of the ground. Poor little guys haven't had a chance to open their petals. Luckily, I took this photo last year when Spring really was Spring.

I'm hoping to be able to work on this peice this weekend and post my progress. Again, thanks for taking the time to comment.


marilyn h
04-01-2005, 08:19 PM
Idaho!!!! Home state. Now am in Raleigh, NC. Love these crocus. It is really a fun composition working from small to large, forshortening. I think if you used a very sharp pencil you would see a dramatic difference in the graininess of your crocus. I am going to keep track of this thread. It is going to be beautiful when your finished.

04-01-2005, 08:45 PM
Hi Marilyn, I knew that somebody had to be from Idaho. It seems like everybody in the state is either from California or Colorado. :wink2:

Thank you for suggesting the use of sharp pencils. I'm just laying color down now and will go back and use those sharp pencils to finish out the peice. I have a tendency to use too much pressure with sharp pencils so I leave them for last. Yeah, I know that's something that I need to work on. I'll add that to my list of all the other things that I need to work on.

Thanks for stopping by and offering help. :D


Katherine T
04-02-2005, 03:02 AM

I started a post on this last night and then went and closed it by mistake :wink2: . I just wondered why you were choosing to work only in one area to start with rather than working across the whole piece on similar areas all at the same time. The way you're doing it is really difficult to get right. Or will you work all over the piece at the same time when you get towards the end?

Thanks for the close-up - really helped to see what you are doing. I agree with Marilyn that working with sharper pencils will help the work progress. Maybe try sharper pencils and less pressure?

I'm looking forward to the next post.


04-02-2005, 02:21 PM
Hello Katherine, I'm not sure why you think that I'm working only one area at a time on this. (Although I have worked that way before. When I did my macaws, I enjoyed painting them, but hated working on the background. In that piece, the birds were what the picture was about. On this piece, it's the play of light on the flowers with the closest ones being the center of interest.) Maybe it's just because I'm so slow to post any progress. :D

No, I'm working the whole piece as one. When I finish with my first initial layers, I'll go back and add more.

I'm including another post of the piece, so you can see that I am indeed working on this as a whole. The photo is a little darker than in RL.

And I promise that I'll try to work with sharper pencils and lighter pressure!


04-09-2005, 08:43 PM
Well, here it is completed. I'm not real happy with the leaves of the crocus, but I don't hate the flowers. Your C&C is welcomed. Thanks for looking!


marilyn h
04-09-2005, 09:13 PM
Gorgeous outcome! I like this with a lot of enthusiasm. Beautiful color and design. Glad you have finished it.

04-09-2005, 09:47 PM
but I don't hate the flowers.

Well, try to curb your enthusiasm! :wink2:

Personally, I like the flowers, as well as the grassy bits, as well as the dirt you can see between the grassy bits. Nice job, keep it up.

Like you, I don't hate it, hee, hee, hee! :clap: :clap:

04-09-2005, 10:44 PM
I also don't hate it heehee :) I really love the flowers, love the leaves, love the dirt too. I love crocuses (?) they just are SO spring! Something I know is sadly a long way off here since we're only in early Autumn *sigh*. It's beautiful Rita :)

Katherine T
04-10-2005, 01:36 AM

This is a lovely spring picture - but I think there might be some scope for improvement with a little bit more work.

I'm not sure the recession works as well as it could do - the scale of the flowers suggest depth but I'm not sure about the tones. In the ref photo, there's a huge value difference between the crocus at the back and the ones at the front. This makes the ones closest to us the centre of interest - and I can see from your post that is what you have been trying to achieve. However, I'm finding the tones in your painting to all be fairly similar and all mid range. And, although the front crocus are lighter they just don't 'pop out' as much as I was expecting they would. This suggests to me you maybe want to look to see whether any of your dark values need strengthening. Or maybe you decided you didn't want to pursue the value range of the ref photo?

Have you ever tried testing out a greyscale of your final image against a greyscale of your ref photo? I think you'd see more clearly what I'm getting at it you did. If you have any problems with this I can show you how.

And I can see a lot to be very positive about in this picture - which is why maybe a little bit more work would be like the icing on the cake! Even more scrummy!


04-10-2005, 09:25 AM
I think the problem is that you put the sharper, more defined lines towards the back, making it look like the rear of the image is in focus and thus the important part. If you define the edges of your big crocuses (croci?) and that yellow flower just in the front, then I think you'll find that the image gets more balanced.

Don't get frustrated, get even!

04-10-2005, 01:36 PM
Thank you all for looking and offering encouragement. This is my 4th piece and while I feel that I'm making progress, it just seems a little slow in coming.

Katherine, I will greyscale both. I have been using the red acetate as a visual guide, but I will greyscale them both and get a more accurate reading.

Maggie, I think that you have a good point, as well. I have defined the back flowers much more than the forward ones. I'll work on fixing that. Thank you for pointing this out. And my "corci" thank you as well. :D


04-11-2005, 07:13 PM
Hi Everybody, :wave:

If you don't mind, I'm going to have one more go at this.

I've gone back and tried to get this closer to the greyscale of the piece, as Katherine suggested. I also tried to "dull" the background flowers and give my front flowers more detail and color as suggested by Wendy.

The first pix is the ref. greyscaled. The Second is this version greyscaled. And the final pix is of my new and improved painting.

It looks better to me. :) Am I getting closer?

BTW, the photo is a bit bluer than IRL.

Once again, thanks for looking. I won't post this anymore, I promise!


04-11-2005, 07:42 PM
It was well worth it Rita.

It looks much better. :clap: :clap: :clap:

04-11-2005, 08:35 PM
Great job, Rita! I admire you for tackling such a difficult photo!! :clap: :clap: :clap:

04-11-2005, 10:40 PM
I think it's a VERY difficult photo and you did a good job..The second one looks much better, even though I thought the first one was fine too. I love the flowers..Thanks for sharing this with us and please do some more!!

04-12-2005, 09:14 AM
Don't feel bad for continually posting -- that's what we want to see! It does look a ton better, though if it were me . . . I think I'd put some non-white colors into the highlights of the flowers up front. Maybe some flower people will pop in and tell you how they do that translucent effect in the petals.

04-12-2005, 09:37 AM
Rita you post it as many times as it takes! That is what it's all about here. Working and getting help untill you are happy with the results. I love it! The only thing I would do is to darken the grass in the fore ground a little. It is darker in the ref photo. You did a great job on a very hard subject matter. :clap: wanda

04-12-2005, 10:07 AM
Lynn, Beth, Joann, Maggie, and Wanda, thank you all for your comments and suggestions. Those suggestions are just what I'm looking for! Well.....those pats on the back are what I'm actually hoping for. :D But, it's the suggestions that make me say, "Oh yeah! Why didn't I see that?" Thank you, Ladies, for your input!

Wanda, I will go back and put in some darker leaves in the foregound.

Maggie, if no Flower Person offers a suggestion of a non-white color, I'll play around with plastic over the top of the painting and see if I can come up with something.


Rosa Weitzel
04-12-2005, 10:11 AM
I really like the colors you have going on in this work. You have done an out standing job. I love the back flowers they vibrate with color. Thats hard to do. Keep posting


04-12-2005, 11:51 AM
Everyone keeps talking about putting plastic over the top of their pictures for values and stuff . . . what are they talking about?

04-12-2005, 05:06 PM
Thank you, Rosa! I'm anxious to start something new. Think I'll do something other than flowers next time. :D

, I first mentioned using red acetate to view my work. I have a rectangle of red acetate mounted into a small mat. By looking thru it, I can see the values of anything I'm looking at; whether it's the ref. pix or the painting. It's sort of a "cheater's" greyscale; it hides the color of whatever you viewing.

04-12-2005, 05:12 PM
Thank you, Rosa! I'm anxious to start something new. Think I'll do something other than flowers next time. :D

Maggie, I first mentioned using red acetate to view my work. I have a rectangle of red acetate mounted into a small mat. By looking thru it, I can see the values of anything I'm looking at; whether it's the ref. pix or the painting. It's sort of a "cheater's" greyscale; it hides the color of whatever you viewing. Then I said that I might play around with plastic over the top of the painting. I'm not sure that this would work with colored pencils, but with watercolors, you can place plastic or clear acetate on your work and play around with adding things or colors without actually touching the piece.

I hope this makes sense and that I've answered your question. Let me know if I haven't.


04-12-2005, 07:55 PM
Huh! I never knew that. Sounds like something interesting to try. Right when I get done with Exacto knives.