View Full Version : Willochra Creek, Melrose WIP - COMPLETED

Susan Borgas
04-06-2006, 03:25 AM
Work is 47.5cm high x 68cm wide.
Elephant Art Spectrum Colourfix

This spot is roughly about 20 minutes drive from where I live in the Southern Flinders Ranges. It is one of my favourite areas to paint.

I have spent some time at the drawing stage as well as made a tonal map to give me an idea of the course I would like to go. The tonal map is only for guidance and if need be I will change the design for a better painting.

So hop on board another WIP is about to start.:)


04-06-2006, 04:02 AM
looks a lovely setting, and I even like your tonal sketch lol

04-06-2006, 10:59 AM
this is going to be wonderful.

04-06-2006, 11:43 AM
Can't wait to see the next installment. We start our work in a similar manner! :lol:


04-06-2006, 12:15 PM
Love the start of this...Australia really has some beautiful areas, enjoyed looking at your landscapes!!

04-06-2006, 04:07 PM
Hi Susan,

Elephant colour : the Colourfix surface that I don't like :-)
But I'm sure that your landscape won't seem an elephant :-)



04-06-2006, 06:41 PM
This is going to be great! I'll be watching.


04-06-2006, 07:56 PM
Looks like a very lucky place to live by to be able to paint.
Will be watching.

Susan Borgas
04-06-2006, 08:05 PM
I have been missing painting my beloved trees lately so thought why not do this WIP. Looking at the tonal sketch I already see a problem. The dark tree trunk bang in the middle needs to be addressed. I didn’t notice it yesterday. Not sure if to leave it there but lighten it so that it doesn’t become the centre of attention or to take it out completely. I have already removed trees in that space to allow the eye to escape up the mountain side so that the viewer isn't hemmed in.

Anyway it is lovely to have you all here and jump in if you see something that may need some sort of attention.

José when I was going through my AS paper, I was looking for something with medium tone. That elephant paper appealed to me because of its unusual texture (my last batch seems worse than usual). If there was a lot of sky I don’t think I would have used it, as I do blend them smooth. Hopefully the paper will be an advantage with this scene with so many textures to paint.

04-06-2006, 08:30 PM
My bf and I drove from Darwin to Perth in 5 weeks time in Jan/Feb 2005. To my opinion, Australia is a gorgeous country with some of the most breathtaking places I ever saw! A boat ride on the Yellow river made an everlasting impression in my mind. So I will be watching this painting come to live closely :)


04-07-2006, 01:06 AM
Anxious to see the progression of this.

Susan Borgas
04-07-2006, 01:06 AM
At the moment I am feeling my way with pastel application so that I get some of the paper covered. This is done lightly.

The mountain has purple and blue scraped on the paper then rubbed into the support. This will have numerous lighter tones laid over the top. I find this helps give me depth in the mountain rather than a flat expanse of area.

As you can see I did take the middle tree out that has the dark trunk. I felt that it was too centered and not good for the over all design.

Hopefully I will have anther posting tomorrow.

Mariska, there is a lot of places that I haven't set eyes on and the Yellow river is one of them. I am very lucky to such a great place to paint.:)


Susan Borgas
04-07-2006, 01:08 AM
Gerry I think we posted at the same time, your wish is my command ;)

04-07-2006, 08:46 AM
I am curious to see the result. I am very sure it will be a wonderful painting like always. I love all of your works very much.I realy look out for your work, it inspire me.

Pinecone Conniff
04-07-2006, 10:05 AM
I really like how you establish the direction of the light right away...there is form & distance even at such an early stage in your painting. Very cool!:cool:

04-07-2006, 11:00 AM
Susan thank you. Great beginning. I really need to start doing thumbnails
again for value. As you can tell from my last post. this is a wonderful
start and know it will be a wonderful ending. Never heard of elephant color
paper. your choice of color in the distant trees is really nice. (LOL) just
took off my dark glasses. But I love your colors your using. I will follow
this closely probably print it out.


04-07-2006, 12:57 PM
Just imagine what great textural effects you could create using soft pastels on an elephant!! All that rough hide. :) Colourfix is my favourite surface. I've got a large sheet in this colour, but I'm not sure what sort of subject it might be best for.

Thanks for sharing your process, Susan. It's interesting to see that you've picked out the highlight areas so early on.

I've never seen a landscape by you that wasn't gorgeous, so have high expectations for this one!

Bhavana Vijay
04-07-2006, 05:45 PM
This is going to be gorgeous!I also love your tonal map, hope you preserve them too.

Susan Borgas
04-07-2006, 08:11 PM
Yvette, gosh what a lovely thing to say! Hopefully this one won’t disappoint you or me.
Annette, when I start a painting my mind is usually going so fast that I want to establish some of the key areas so that I settle down. Some of the lights will be “molded” yet with additional layers. I have still quite a bit of under-painting yet to do.
Leirrem, don’t be hard on yourself; your cherry blossom painting is lovely and not an easy subject to do. Good to see you back here again so soon after your operation and do take care of your eyes. In my own work here, the foliage has me a bit worried as there are so many trees and don’t want it to end up as a mass of one colour. The Red Gum eucalypts even in the same species can have varying colour in foliage and limbs, which I will be taking advantage of to help break up some of the green. The mistletoe is quite prevalent in this area.
E-J, Colourfix is the only paper that I use now for my pastel work. I was the same when oil painting; I used the same type of canvas at all times. It is funny really, the highlights I have for the most part picked out first when painting with pastels and yet when painting with my oils, I applied them last. I am now dabbling with watercolours and I think the way I use pastels actually helps me to preserve some of the white paper…. Well most of the time!;)
Bhavana, I should paint them on proper watercolour paper instead of the plain A4 sheets that I use. I would imagine it isn’t acid free :confused: to preserve them though I don’t throw them away.

Susan Borgas
04-08-2006, 02:35 AM
Time to post another update.

The mountain is near complete other than minor adjustments that maybe needed as the painting progresses. I also applied pastel to the sky above the mountain so that I could see the tonal values between sky and distant trees. I am reasonably happy with the resulting contrasts.

I have scraped on a thin layer of pastel in the foreground to stain the paper. I have used the warm red/brown tones to compliment the green layers that will be placed over the top. Also rocks and litter will come into play yet in these areas.

Even though it is Sunday tomorrow in Aussie land, I hope to have another posting by the end of the day. Best laid plans often can be interrupted though so I will see what happens. :wave:


04-08-2006, 01:28 PM
Your light source is great and the fact that you put it in first. I seems to key
your painting. This will be beautiful I know. Thanks again for your kind thoughts


Susan Borgas
04-10-2006, 02:32 AM
I put in the larger shapes of sky with further sky holes made at a later time when the tree canopies are finished.

Using darks, I stained the paper where the main bulk of the tree foliage will be.

After making a start on the tree foliage I felt that the mountain did need to be lightened, which I did with a pale mauve/purple colour.

Till next time, cheers!!!


04-10-2006, 02:53 AM
Very nice to see this painting coming alive. You do such beautiful landscapes.

Merethe T
04-10-2006, 04:43 AM
Oh, I almost missed this....love your paintings, and I'm pulling up a chair to watch you work! This will be a great learning experience, I'm sure...

This is beautiful already,wonderful light..... Do you blend a lot? I love the smooth finish in your work,been wondering how you achieve that....

04-10-2006, 07:24 PM
Ooo, Susan, this is looking great!!! I really like the white reflections on the trees, nice!

Susan Borgas
04-11-2006, 08:22 PM
Marina thank you :)

Merethe, don’t get too comfortable on that chair as I won’t be able to update for a few days now due to preparations to go away for Easter. I am looking forward to it as we meet up with family and friends in a caravan park and literally kick up our heels…. Quietly of cause so that we don’t disturb other patrons in the park. ;)

With this work I have subtly smoothed the larger areas of sky but some of the strokes of pastel remain.

The staining I rub my finger over it or use a brush to rub the pastel into the paper. I don’t want the tooth to fill up. The excess pastel that falls into my gutter at the bottom of the painting support I collect to make another pastel stick. I may even mix some of the tiniest left over pieces into this mix to come up with some interesting colours.

Over the stained colour in the mountain I lay colours over each other lightly until I get the desired effect that I want. I lightly touch them with my finger without rubbing to “knock” the detail back. When I lightened this area in the last posting, I only scraped gently with the pastel stick; my fingers did not touch the work.

The tree trunks are often smoothed out with lots of layers of pastel while trying to retain the rough bark in other areas by using less pastel. The pastel stick does most of the blending with the occasional colour shaper used. The small smooth branches that have no bark on them, a colour shaper once more is used.

When I get to the rocks it is the application of layers of pastel that will leave some areas rougher and other parts smoothed out…. Just the same as the tree trunks, though I usually don’t use a colour shaper.

The water is painted as a mirror to what is above. I use a chiseled shape colour shaper to drag down from the top gently to smooth it out. I have not done this yet and won’t until the water is completed. There will be transparent water in places and not sure at this stage how I am going to approach it.

I am posting a close up. The foliage area still needs more work to scruff it up a bit as it is very tidy at this stage like a paste on but you will get some idea of what I have spoken about.

Cindy the AS Australian Grey is my favourite colour that I use for the whites on my trees. It gives the umph that I want that for the trees. It is a lovely warm colour.


Susan Borgas
04-18-2006, 02:58 AM
Had a lovely time over Easter and now back home again posting.

I am rushing this post as I am yet to catch up with some mundane jobs. I will let you guys work out what I have done in this update……… catch ya soon.:wave:


04-18-2006, 04:22 AM
Dear Susan:

I just want to thank you for the depth of detail you are providing about specific techniques and the clear LARGE images. I often feel at a loss with landscapes. But now I feel like I am getting a personal workshop! Thanks for taking the time to share.


04-18-2006, 03:02 PM
yeah, this is great, thanks!! i'll hafta grab one of those aust. grey pastels too, looks handy.

04-18-2006, 06:32 PM
Wow, this is sure coming along.


Susan Borgas
04-18-2006, 07:08 PM
Louisa if I can help someone, I am doing what I have set out to do. Thank you!!
chewie I just love that grey pastel. I also have another colour the same tone that I mixed up from scraps that have been ground down, re-wet and shaped into another stick. The extra "bits" in the grey pastel made a pinkish colour. I use this along with the grey in the very light areas.
leirrem Slow going but getting there bit by bit :)

04-18-2006, 08:15 PM
Looking great so far and anxious to see the finish! :)

04-18-2006, 11:31 PM
What a lovey scene, and the trees are excillent. It is so nice to be able to share places from across the world:wave: :clap: :clap:

Susan Borgas
04-19-2006, 03:42 AM
Westerngirl and Gerry, thank you :)

Between two lots of visitors and phone ringing here I did manage to get some work done. The top left quarter is now well on the way. It hasn’t been easy to separate much of the foliage from the distance to the forward position but reasonably happy with the progress of this area. I still have sky holes to put back, which will be done at a later time plus the twigs.

I have posted a close up of the tree trunks in the thick area of growth so that you can see what is going on. I used short flat sides of the AS Australian grey as well as my reworked stick of Australian grey that had some other scraps of colour mixed in making a slightly pinkish colour. I scraped lightly picking up some of the under colour at the same time. The trick was to push slightly harder on the pastel from the direction of light so that the trunks look rounded because the opposite side of the pastel didn’t bite so much leaving some of the under colour showing through. I then place a few more marks in appropriate places to add more form to the lower areas. My aim is to achieve a mysterious area of bush land that is common place in this region with thick growth.

I scraped some more colour along the bank though it does have a lot more work to be done.

Until next time, Cheers!!! :wave:



04-19-2006, 06:56 AM
Ohhhh... this may be one of my favorities. The trees are amazing. I'm drooling.


Susan Borgas
04-19-2006, 07:04 PM
Thanks Johnnie, as I drool over your own work; love how you handle chrome :)

04-19-2006, 09:43 PM
Oh My. This close up is lovely. The texture you have there is wonderful.
Where you worked your trees on the left is really nice. Some spots of this
painting look tight, but it really looks loose and impressionistic. Very
painterly. Really Beautiful Susan and you explain so well also. Do you
enter competition, shows, etc. This is lovely.


Susan Borgas
04-20-2006, 04:29 AM
Some spots of this painting look tight, but it really looks loose and impressionistic. Very painterly.

Leirrem you are not the first one to say this as I have heard people say my work looks like photos but when they put their noses nearly in the pastel they can’t get over that I haven’t painted every leaf. It is a style that has developed over time without me even realizing it. It has been awhile since I have entered competitions. I have won smaller prizes though not the “big” one. The Wanderer Butterfly WIP that I did will be entered in a competition in a few weeks time.

Today I attacked the top right hand side of the painting. I strengthened up the bottom of these trees as I felt there wasn’t enough width in the trunks to hold the tops upright. Mmmmmmm, starting to tire of tree trunks and foliage and glad to have the main parts of it done. Still have the twigs to put in place; that is a job for another day.

I glazed some colour over the banks of the creek making sure I don’t completely cover the staining colour underneath.

I called it a day when I dropped one of my favourite Unison colour. :crying: I could hardly believe my eyes when it happened but here is the proof of the pudding with an image further down below.:( Oh well I will live!:thumbsup:



04-20-2006, 06:30 AM
This is really beautiful and so big!. Fascinating to see how you build it up. Really admire your work. Thanks a lot for sharing this WIP with us. What a shame about your pastel. Have you ever repaired one with drops of water?

04-20-2006, 07:20 AM
Susan, You can salvage the pastel with a bit of alcohol. Grind in mortar and add drop of alcohol to make paste, then roll. You can use as soon as alcohol evaporates.
The painting is coming along lovely. I really enjoy looking at WIPs. I never think to do that until I am already done!! :)

Susan Borgas
04-20-2006, 07:19 PM
Marina thank you. I have used water in the past to bind small amounts of pastel powder back into sticks.

Tres I have read about using alcohol and keep forgetting to buy it when on one of my big shopping trips. I can’t buy it locally.

I have been thinking about asking this question and now is as good a time as any :rolleyes: Can anyone tell me what is the difference between using alcohol and water to re-roll what was once a pastel stick?

04-20-2006, 07:25 PM
If I remember correctly, the only difference is that the water takes longer to dry, and the alcohol evaporates quickly, and you can use asap. That is one reason alcohol is sometimes the preferred to use as underpainting when painting en plein air..
Weird, you can't buy. For my Tuesday class, I needed some, and ran up to the Dollar Store, and got for 75cents...:)

Susan Borgas
04-20-2006, 07:38 PM
Thanks Tres! :)

Not many shops where I live, hence make a big day of shopping every 3-4 weeks a little over an hours drive away. It isn't far for some but I prefer not to make that trip often.

I have just finished putting the alcohol on my shopping list so that I don't forget it next time. I like the idea of it drying quickly plus been thinking about trying my hand at underpainting my pastel work.

04-20-2006, 07:42 PM
Ahhh...distance problem, gotcha!! What do you do when you run out of milk, or bread ,or get a chocolate attack??!!! :)

04-20-2006, 10:42 PM
This is really looking great. I saw your pastel stick. I know exactly how
you felt. I do that a lot so now I have a nice soft rug under my easel. It
gets pretty grungy but it saves most of what I drop. I use alchohol all the
time in place of water. It evaporates almost as you put it on and my Ersta
which I like to work on, won't buckle nearly as bad as using water and pastel. or turps. Hope to see this finished, its lovely susan.

Susan Borgas
04-21-2006, 02:53 AM
Tehe… Tres a small shop ten minutes away does carry those items. Chocolate I don’t dare bring home as I eat it all in one sitting.;)

Leirrem I do have a mat which has saved a few but guess what, I missed the mat!!! That will teach me to walk around holding a pastel in my hand. The alcohol sounds like I should have had in my cupboard yonks ago.:D

Today I have worked on the rocks and creek bed. I have only ever painted transparent water with oils in the past and found it very interesting to use pastels to try and achieve the same thing. I hope to complete the water tomorrow as well as the bottom bank.

I did pick out some rocks that are more in focus and some not. As you will see with the close up shot they are in fact just layers laid over the top of each other allowing some of the under colour to show through. I always do keep in mind though the direction of light as well as the reflective light.



04-21-2006, 05:50 AM
Hi Susan,
This is gorgeous! Very interesting watching you build up the layers. Love the strength of those mighty gum trees!
(I must admit to pangs of homesickness........ having grown up in Gladstone; just down the road from you! So, is that Mt Remarkable behind the trees?

04-21-2006, 09:21 AM
Thank you for the tips on re doing pastels . I have been wondering as I have kept a lot of powder that I had left after sharpening .

Susan Borgas
04-21-2006, 08:00 PM
G’day Jonsan :wave:, gee it is a small world! Thanks for the nice words and yes that is Mt Remarkable.

Gerry it is great to see some lovely new colours emerge from making new sticks of pastels. I think for me it gives me some satisfaction for when I used to mix my oils paints, which I haven’t done for a very long time now. I do miss creating colour on the palette.

04-21-2006, 09:01 PM
Hi Susan,

Dazling water. Stunning depth. Irrepreensible colours.

Best regards,


P.S. now that I said all those nice things, can I have a piece of chocolate cake ?

04-21-2006, 09:25 PM
I agree with Jose'


Susan Borgas
04-22-2006, 02:36 AM
Chuckle …… If I had the chocolate cake I would gladly share it with you both. :lol:

Well the big question has finely arrived, is it finished???

Smaller branches and twigs have been placed in the trees as well as the odd sky hole. I spent quite a bit of time completing the water. The bottom left corner was quickly completed as I didn’t want detail in this area though the pastel marks give a good impression of lots of litter on the ground.

For now it is more look than put. There maybe a tweak here and there but nothing major.

I am happy to answer questions to the best of my ability but I am by no means an expert, I just do things my way though not necessarily the right way, I am a believer that it is ok to break a few rules along the way. :evil: I love to learn more and that is why C&C is important to me so please feel free to contribute.


Thought you might like to see a close up of the stones under the water.

04-22-2006, 11:26 AM
:clap: :clap: Absolutely beautiful , the tree on the waters edge , has it lost its roots to rot? I'm not critisizing just wondering as we don't have these kinds of trees here,.

Susan Borgas
04-22-2006, 07:37 PM
Thanks for the claps Gerry.

The tree in question, my thoughts were when painting it that it is a younger eucalyptus gum. With another fifty or so years it will more than likely spread its base out. The water in the creek also will be covering any exposed smaller roots, as water does not sit in these creeks for long periods of time.

Merethe T
04-22-2006, 08:09 PM
Totally awsome!!! Wonderful depth, gorgeous trees and fantastic water!!! Beautiful colors aswell, stunning work....thank you for doing this WIP, I love to see how other artists work, learn a lot from it! :)

04-22-2006, 08:32 PM
stunning water!! and yes, thanks so much for the efforts to post wip's. this one is wonderful! and i think you should be entering more contests, how can the judges help but notice you??!!! wow!

Susan Borgas
04-23-2006, 06:20 PM
Merethe thank you for your lovely words. I also like to watch others as it is how I have learnt to improve. :)

Chewie thank you all so. Your confidence in me with contests is very uplifting. :D

Tom Christopher
04-23-2006, 07:23 PM
This is a real beauty Susan--the rocks showing thru the stream is masterful. It was a pleasure to watch the painting evolve and grow. The lighting is spectacular as well--great work- thank you Tom

Pinecone Conniff
04-23-2006, 08:40 PM
This has been really great...watching you work! I felt like I was looking over your shoulder! Your painting is spectacular!:clap:
I love how you pushed those distant moutains back...and the trees dance with light & character...the stream is reflective & transparent! Super!
You must live in a wild & beautiful place...I hope it stays that way!:)

Susan Borgas
04-24-2006, 06:29 AM
Tom I appreciate you stopping by and thank you for the good things you have said. :)

So it was you Annette that I felt looking over my shoulder…..chuckle. ;) Thanks for the clappy!

Some of the Flinders Ranges isn’t to be messed with by people that don’t understand it or it might mean some hardship on them, though the area I live in is mostly farming land. I am pleased to say that most do respect the land they own and also visitors to it. :thumbsup:

Kathryn Wilson
04-24-2006, 07:54 AM
Excellent WIP, Susan! I loved it from the very first layer of pastels with that great color you use in AS pastels - it's one of my favorites too.

The water is masterfully done - so no worries, eh?

This may be my favorite of yours, but I know there will be more to come.

Kathryn Wilson
04-24-2006, 07:55 AM
Everyone, if you want to see this in the Pastel Library, please rate the thread.

04-24-2006, 11:21 AM
I love it! I makes you feel like you could just step into the scene....which is very appealing. Great water and rocks.


Susan Borgas
04-24-2006, 04:49 PM
Kat & Sandy thanks. I was really happy how the water turned out.

04-25-2006, 05:59 AM
Fantbaulous as usual. :D

04-25-2006, 07:36 PM
Very nice painting.

Susan Borgas
04-25-2006, 07:37 PM
Thanks Maddy :D

Susan Borgas
04-25-2006, 07:37 PM
Thanks Barry! :)

04-25-2006, 07:48 PM
This turned out gorgeous :) Simply love it!


04-25-2006, 07:58 PM
Just beautiful! Particularly like your water and reflections....wonderful work.

Susan Borgas
04-26-2006, 04:07 AM
Mariska & Kim, thank you! :)

You have all been very kind which as you would all know is very motivating to start the next painting..... now where is that group hug smiley...... Oh here you are!!! :grouphug: :wave:

04-26-2006, 12:12 PM
Wow. This is better than attending a class. Love these WIPS on here....such a learning experience. Your work is wonderful. I can't imagine painting something so beautiful.


04-26-2006, 12:12 PM
Wow. This is better than attending a class. Love these WIPS on here....such a learning experience. Your work is wonderful. I can't imagine painting something so beautiful.


04-26-2006, 09:34 PM
You're like....the Pastel Goddess! Wonderful and inspiring!


Susan Borgas
04-27-2006, 04:01 AM
I can't imagine painting something so beautiful.

Ronda we all paint something beautiful, just different how we go about it :)

Ian I am chuffed that you enjoy my work though "Pastel Goddess" leaves me speechless......chuckle.

04-27-2006, 05:06 AM
Hi from across 'the ditch'. :)
loved looking at this WIP. Thanks so much for posting it. I like the compostion leading the eye around and around the painting.

I have done oils with AS colours and was interested to hear they have the same things in pastels - hopefully the Aussie Red Gold and Pilbarra Red - my favourites. I loved how you set that spot of water down first. It really caught my eye. Lovely stones under the water.


Susan Borgas
04-27-2006, 07:28 PM
G'day Elain :wave:

Glad you liked the WIP. Yes there is those two reds in Pastel :thumbsup: