View Full Version : Demonstration: Snowy river and trees

Deborah Secor
12-29-2006, 07:18 PM
I decided to paint today and as I was preparing it occurred to me that I could shoot some photos as I went along. So I did. This may be a little rudimentary for the folks who hang out here but I thought I could refer my beginning students to it, if needed. That and a little review of basics (a la Secor, if you will) never hurts.

First of all I played with a photo I found in the RIL. I don't remember who posted it, but I thank them very much! It's a stunning shot--the files says it's the Madran River, which I think is in New Brunswick. Here's the original:

I cropped and rearranged things a lot, saturated it a bit more, just played. Here's my final version:

A lot of people ask me whey I do what I do with pictures. It's true that I could easily have used the original one and made the composition by eye, but I find that if I crop things out I don't distort as casually--and by that I mean accidentally! If I decide to change the shape of something I want it to be a good choice and not built on trying to cram something into the picture plane that was originally much longer or larger, which just skews shapes.

I have about 20 photos to post and I've run out of light to take any more, so I'm going to post a series of thumbnails for you to see with an occasional larger picture, just so the thread doesn't get too heavy with pix!


Deborah Secor
12-29-2006, 07:37 PM
I used a little piece of virgin white Wallis paper, 9x12", taped it to my board and used some of the gray dust from my easel to tone it. I used my handy foam brush to rub it thoroughly, making a nice even gray tone. I never worry if there are any textural blotches, though, since the pastel will cover it. I like the overall gray because I can easily erase the drawing.

#1: The paper with my foam brush and the tape peeled back so you can see the color.

#2: My charcoal sketch, just lightly finding the location of the big shapes. I think of these as the geometrics of the painting. If this isn't interesting the whole painting will be uninteresting, so now is the time to make it good... I just let my hand and eye flow and find what I think works. I like the comp of this photo so I'm not rearranging much.

#3: In order to establish where the snow is located I use a very soft white (well, it was white!) plastic eraser to rrub out the tone. You can see the crumbled eraser bits all over the white. I use a soft brush to wisk them away.

#4: This is a bit blurry but you can see the finished plan. It's all done in extra soft thin vine charcoal (I like Grumbacher brand). I've established the darkest darks and lightest light areas, and loosely indicated the mediums.

#5: I start with the sky, since it's at the top and it establishes so much about the tone and color of the painting. I lay down a light purple blue and a light turquoise blue, then scumble in a touch of darker cobalt, then back over with the other two blues. I use nothing but the flat of my pastel to start. Just big flat strokes, not worrying about details at all.

Feel free to interrupt and ask me questions at any point! I'll be back...


Kathryn Wilson
12-29-2006, 07:37 PM
Ooooh, I can see all the colors you are going to put in - a la Secor - those wonderful red bushes and the purples of the brush behind them.

Can't wait to see it! I am sure there will be a lesson on painting white also - :)

12-29-2006, 07:58 PM
Fascinating! Thanks.... Donna

12-29-2006, 08:48 PM
Deborah your prep work is already beautiful; when all your typical colors go in it will be gorgeous. I'll be watching.
BTW I think your RIL contributer is Larry Siebling, I think he did one of his in the snow plein airs from this one.

Deborah Secor
12-29-2006, 08:49 PM
Yep, Kathryn, I will be showing you white! I love painting snow--good thing, since we now have about 12-14" of it outside! :rolleyes:

I'm going to continue the numbering from above.

#6: This is a little closer shot of the sky, which I think shows you that I don't blend with my fingers or get all weird about the dips and holes. It will all fill in later. I don't worry about the trees, either. Just staying loose.

#7: Another blurry shot but it shows the colors I used to mass in the various trees. I wanted a range of dark, medium-dark and medium colors. Left to right is a very dark eggplant that Ludwig makes, a Townsend dark green, medium-dark purple, red violet and rust colored Schminckes, and medium orange Girault (a little harder, but I don't care--it's the right color), and a medium goldish Great American.

#8: Here's how all those colors look used in the bushes and trees. Again, using the flat of the pastel I just push them into place, often starting with the darks.

#9: You can see how I used the eraser to establish a slightly darker area of snow, then added the yellows right over that.

#10: A super close-up of the darkest green trees that I sort of scrubbed in with a slanted stroke, and the vivid pinks, purples and oranges I've added to the palette.

And (#11) here's a shot of the upper corner of the painting with my 1" flat colour shaper, which I use to flick in some of the wispy edges of the trees over the sky.

More in a bit...


Deborah Secor
12-29-2006, 09:08 PM
I'm going to start the snow. NO WHITE, for a while! I start with this really nice pale pink GA. It has a nice warmth to it so I'll use it for the places where the snow is hit by sunlight. Then I find a lovely, equally pale green, which I'll use for the slighly more shadowed banks...

Here are both colors for you to see:

#12: Again, I'm going to use the flat side of the pastel. I find that by using it this way I can cover more of the area faster and I don't start to overfill the grain of the paper. I work fast and loosely, lightly layering in the snow.

#13: You can see that I've put the pink in the left side and the middle right side, where I want your eye to spend time.

#14: This shot shows you that I will take a very quick, light swipe at areas that are destined to be behind the bushes, so that I have some of that pink but not too mucy. If I add too much light too soon I get a nice case of muddy snow...

#15: And here you can see the contrasting green that I'm adding to the front, slightly shaded areas. I want this foreground to be satisfyingly developed but not overly interesting! We'll see if I succeed. :p

And here you can see the beginnings of the red bushes that I've very lightly added. I try to shape them characteristically, but not get too tight. Again, notice that I've used the flat side! (Am I sounding like a broken record here?) I want the idea, not the details.

More coming...


12-29-2006, 09:16 PM
Thank you so very much for this demonstration and going into such great detail! I just rated it 5 stars!:thumbsup:

Karen Margulis
12-29-2006, 09:20 PM
What a wonderful demo!! I'll be printing it out to study!!! Thank you so much for taking the time to do this.


Deborah Secor
12-29-2006, 09:33 PM
Okay, a few more and I'm at a standstill for the night! In the morning I'll resume, assuming I can afford to paint. Can't see why not! It's too snowy to do much else... (I'm good at rationalizing, am I not???)

#16: I've blocked in all the snow, both warm and cool, and added a pale blue to the shaded side of the right bank. I guess you can tell that the sun is coming from the right side, casting shadows to the left. The water is yet to come...

#17: Here's another close-up of the red bush with snowy touches. I've developed it just a bit more now, adding a firmer touch of reds over the pinks in place behind it. The red has picked up a bit of the pink, giving it a snowy effect, which I'll use in another step later.

#18: Okay, finally some blue! And this is a very vivid color. I started with a bit of the rich cobalt blue, then added the darkest blue when I realized I'd missed the darkness. I use it to give depth to the banks, and follow the ripple lines in the water. I don't want the water to be as dark as it is in the photo.

#19: Here you can see the layers even better.

And this is the painting as it stands tonight:

I've blocked in all the water, laying in a purple along the upper right side to give the impression of the bushes reflected there. Then I added a bright medium turquoise, and the brilliant darker cobalt over the original darks, again using the flat side of the sticks.

It's pretty loud and garish as it is now, but I have a few more subtleties in mind for tomorrow. This is the first layer of color. I want to put down one layer of color all over the paper so that I can spend some time evaluating what's here, then tomorrow I can make some decisions about what needs to be changed. YOu can't decide which values are correct and which need to be changed until you have a value structure in place. Values (hence colors) all interrelate to one another. Color never exists outside the realm of value (tone), so the relationships are what it's all about. I know it will need some tweaking, of course!

Thanks for all your encouragement and gratitude. I love doing this kind of thing, but it takes time that I don't often have any more. (I should be working on the manuscript of my workbook...ugh! I'm having to format it in--get this--MS WORD! Argh! Any wonder I'm painting??? :D )

I hope you can find something helpful or new here, or maybe just enjoy watching the process again.


Piper Ballou
12-29-2006, 10:04 PM
well, I have read through this already about five times, and will reread it again and again.....I love a la Secor.
I really struggle with landscapes so this is very rich in information for me Deborah, cannot thank you enough.

Deborah Secor
12-29-2006, 10:13 PM
Hey, someone asked me how to pronounce my last name!

Say it with me:

I know, it doesn't roll off the tongue without that final D in place, which it lost a few generations ago. At least some of the folks from back in the northeastern states recognize it! Around New Mexico & the southwest it's an oddity. (However, how many of you can pronounce Abiquiu? Say AB-ik-cue.) OKay, now you can't think of me as SEC-ur. :lol:


Kathryn Day
12-29-2006, 11:14 PM
Wonderful wip. Thanks for doing this, it is great. Look forward to the rest.

12-29-2006, 11:51 PM
WOW! that is fantastic!

12-30-2006, 01:33 AM

Thanks so much for this demo, it is wonderful!!! I would love to encourage you to make a video that we could purchase and watch over and over. I look forward to seeing tomorrow's progress.

12-30-2006, 09:33 AM
Deborah, thank you for doing this. I find it very interesting to follow your thought process. A few questions, why didn't you just use the grey wallace? In #3 it looks like you are putting the white on the river, is that where you are putting the white or somewhere else? I also find it interesting that you are working in very soft pastels from the start.


12-30-2006, 10:25 AM
This is wonderful information and so much fun to watch.
Thank you for posting this.


Deborah Secor
12-30-2006, 10:53 AM
Good questions, Anita! In #3 I'm actually erasing away a portion of the tone from the paper along the left-hand side of the river, directly under the trees. You're right--it does look like it's the same shape as the river, but that's because I had not yet erased what was above it.

I toned the Wallis because when I do that it allows me to totally erase any time I want to, virtually returning to the toned paper with almost no evidence of what was there. Wallis paper will retain evidence of the first thing you put down on it, so if I used the charcoal (even on the Belgian Mist Wallis) when I erase I see the lines left by it on the paper. So by toning the paper I can use the foam brush to wisk off anything I want at any time. If there is a need or opportunity to show this in the painting I'll be sure to include shots of how it works.

You're right, I don't pay much attention to the hardness or softness of the pastels, as some do. I think it makes perfectly good sense to start with harder, leaner pastels and build up the softer and softer color, but after working in the medium for 20+ years I guess I've just learned to use a very light touch on the paper that doesn't fill up the grain. I have my beginners start with two kinds, Giraults or NuPastels, which are relatively hard, and Great Americans or Schminckes, which are very soft. Usually as they work with me they tend to get more of the softer ones, although it takes practice...

I'll get to the next steps in the painting as soon as it warms up in my studio! We have about 16" of snow, a nice insulation blanket, but you have to have a fire in the woodstove to get it warm. I'll be back later when I have more to show. Meanwhile, any questions are welcome.

Thank you all for your kind comments, too... I'm so glad you're finding it valuable. :D A video would be great, Shari. Someday I'd love to do that.


Paula Ford
12-30-2006, 11:12 AM
This is fabulous Deborah! More more more!


12-30-2006, 12:32 PM
Thanks a lot Deborah for a fabulous WIP. Learned a lot already. Never knew what people were talking about when talking about a foam brush. Seeing the picture I thought ha, that is what they mean. Did not know that by toning the paper before hand, it was easier to erase mistakes later. Will have to experiment with that. Are you using pure black for the dark tones in your trees or is it a very dark green? If you use pure black, does not that effect the colours you put on top?
The painting is getting wonderful. Will be following with interest as I am landscape challenged.

Deborah Secor
12-30-2006, 12:57 PM
Marina, no, I'm not using black. I don't care for the coldness of black. The 'black' you see in the trees is that dark green I showed up above. Black isn't that big a problem, if it's the darkest dark you have to use, but since I have dark purple and green, and other darks too, I prefer to use them instead. I suggest my students use black to darken colors, if needed. Put down a light layer of black, followed by a dark blue or green. It's better than not having a dark enough dark!


12-30-2006, 01:03 PM
I expected that already. It just looks black on my monitor. When appropriate I don't mind using black (the swan), but I was surprised to see it in your trees. I have a lovely Sennelier, dark black/green (think it 179) which I use when I need a very dark green colour. Thanks a lot for the explanation.

12-30-2006, 01:19 PM
Deborah, thanks for doing this. It is wonderful!!


12-30-2006, 02:47 PM
wonderful demo !! ... much appreciated !! ...

12-30-2006, 02:53 PM
This is wonderful. Thank you so much. I also agree, a video would be great
also. When you do, put me on your list.


Deborah Secor
12-30-2006, 04:23 PM
Okay, I'm back. The fire's been toasty warm and I've been painting and snapping photos to show you. Here we go again...

Day 2

I spent some time looking at the painting and decided that there were three places that needed to be re-done.

#20: First is the spot where the snowy bank juts into the water from the left. It just wasn't the right shape!

#21: Next is the height of the trees in the center. They're just too tall.

#22: And last is the curve of the river at the bottom center. What I've done in all three instances is use my foam brush to wipe a bit away. I think you can see how the paper shows again.

Now I want to show you how it looks:
(#23) You can see that I've shaped the bank with snow, and now I'm ready to go on painting.

#24: This is the area where I need to concentrate in my second pass, although I'll be all over, too.

#25: I start the next phase with the middle distant trees. I use one of my much-used color shapers to draw the line of the trees farther down into the snow. Having shortened the top, they now get taller again, but lower down. I like using the shaper this way. I'm actually grabbing a bit of purple and pulling it down, pulling it down, over and over. Yes, a bit of the snow gets mixed in, but that's okay. It's a snowy day!


Deborah Secor
12-30-2006, 04:39 PM
I decide to work on the reddish willows on the right side of the river. This is a key area for the viewer, along with the red willows on the other side.

#27: Here you can see that I established some dabs of pink snow and rust bushes, still very loosely with the flat of the stick.

#28: Then I add some coral reds and using my colour shaper again I make the lines. I also add the lovely lavender as a shadow in the snow beside the bushes.

#29: And then I work more with the shaper, making the softer look I want. This super close-up should show you...

I try to stay fairly loose, since my work isn't super-realism. I've done that kind of work in the past, and I could achieve it again, but it no longer holds the charms it once did. This one is looking fairly 'real' to me as it is!

I'm always willing to wipe something away and re-do it! If I'm not happy with it now, I'm sure not going to be happy with it later. And, in that light, may I share with you a further adjustment of the exact same place! Stay tuned...


Deborah Secor
12-30-2006, 04:51 PM
I'm just not at all happy with those bushes... :mad: They've gotten heavy and thick, and the snow isn't showing from behind. I want them to be light and transparent, sooo... let me take you on a short excursion into fixing it again! I tell you, it just has to be done...

#30: I get out the foam brush again and swipe away the offending pastel from the snow line down.

#31: I add a light quick swish of pink pastel.

#32: I use a harder dark brown pastel to make some fast, sweeping lines that suggest the look of delicate branches more.

I like it a lot better now. Trust me, I'll noodle a bit more, probably using my flat shaper to soften and the side of the shaper to striate it a bit more, but just touches.

#33: Here you can see how I've done the snow around the bottom of the trees right next to the red willows I just tweaked. I added a few teensy dabs of snow color to suggest the trunks. Of course this makes it look quite large, but it's maybe a half-inch, if that.

I only have one more part to really work on, the left bank, and then a few colors in the river. I can begin to see what it looks like!


12-30-2006, 04:56 PM
Good luck Deborah, with the final stages. Interesting to see how you use that foam brush. Must get one. Seems a very useful tool

Winny Kerr
12-30-2006, 05:02 PM
A Blessed New Year to you Deborah.
I am so hoping you'll put this demo in a book form so I can look and study it often. I love your demo's and learn so much from them.
Oh and although I search the RIL often I cannot remember having come accross that beautiful photo. Where did you find it, in the Landscape Winter section?

Deborah Secor
12-30-2006, 05:11 PM
These next three are the same process to achieve the red willows on the left. No details needed. Add snow and some red dabs, add some branches, soften and striate. Im happier with these the first time out!

OH!! I almost forgot to mention that I've added real WHITE to the snow, too. I do a light dusting in any place where there is sunlight, allowing the pink and green to come through slightly, of course. I use the world's softest white, a Great American to do this.

Okay, time to look at this painting and see what it needs.... I add some blues to the river, and a dab or two of dark, dark blue along the left edge of the bank to shape it. I scribble in a few little tendrils of brown grassy lines in a few spots to loosen it up. I add some snow reflection in the water in a spot or two and use the wide flat shaper to pull it down softly into the water.

I upload the photos from my camera and as I'm looking at the thumbnails I discover I really don't like the shape of the top outside edge of the river bank! :eek: It's gotten sort of rounded and looks odd. I like it better flat. I'm also not happy with the straight, stovepipe look of the snowbank in the center bottom. Back to the drawing board!! :rolleyes:

A few strokes later we've gone from this:

To this:

Okay! Now this is more like it! I added some snowy shapes to that bottom bank. I also dabbed in the snow shadows.

I need to spend a few days looking at it but I think I'll call it done for now. I hope my explanations have helped. Ask any questions you like!


Deborah Secor
12-30-2006, 05:16 PM
Winny, I think I just did a search with the keyword 'snow' or 'snowy', so I don't know where it was located. I tend not to look at categories, just shop for what I want with searches! It was submitted by a member named snowgoose. It's a great photo, isn't it?


12-30-2006, 05:46 PM
Thoroughly enjoyed watching you work with the snow and the red bushes. Since we don't have much snow down here in the South - it is quite a treat to see what you do. I like the changes you made along the way.

Since I don't know what I'm talking about, please take what I say very lightly. But . . . something about the right side of the bank all along the water still looks like it doesn't meet the water right. Again, please, this may be exactly what snow and water look like when you can't see the underneath since it is on "our" side.

Love what you did making the red bushes show more of the snow behind. Good call.

Deborah Secor
12-30-2006, 06:56 PM
Not a problem, Marsha! I know I need to look at it with fresh eyes and I'll examine that part. I'm not entirely happy with the shape of that side of the bank at the moment, either... so, we'll see! Thanks. :D


Kathryn Wilson
12-30-2006, 07:03 PM
Deborah, this turned out wonderfully - thanks for the tip on using the shaper for the whispy bushes - I always wondered how you got that effect.

I'm looking closely at the photograph and your final version - and the problem with the bank. I think you might have it a bit too smooth. If you look at the photo, the water laps up onto the bank and breaks up that smooth line a bit. It is a bit hard to see and I think the photo might be leaving something out. Try cutting into the bank more with the dark water. (hard to explain what I mean)

Tom Christopher
12-30-2006, 07:18 PM
Hi Deborah--first of all I think your painting is top notch and has all the bases covered-- I am little disappointed in the photo, however--I am looking for more reflection in the water from those red bushes and other trees. I guess I would deviate from the reference a bit and add some darker vlaues in the front as well as some red reflectioins--I do suggest a darker value for the water to make the snow bank in font/right seem brighter.--thanksTom

12-30-2006, 07:55 PM
Very informative - your demo might be just the inspiration I needed to blow the dust off that box of Rembrandts and get to paintin' :thumbsup: 5 stars for you!

Deborah Secor
12-30-2006, 10:09 PM
I have to agree that the water is the weak point so far. Time will give me some clarity, I'm sure. It's a shape issue. I don't really favor the idea of the reflcetions as much as you do, Tom, only because I don't want the water to become the star of the show, just a really brilliant supporting actor--you know? I might try adding more of an icy glaze over it, let some of the snow cover more patches in the river.

Or this! (It wouldn't be the first time!) :lol:


Time will tell...


nana b
12-30-2006, 11:21 PM
Deborah, I have been watching your demo and even copied it off so I could look it over later and study it at my leisure. Thank you so much for sharing it. I think it's very, very interesting and it has probably helped me and everyone else here. I do have a question about where you get your color shapers especially the #1 flat that you used. I have been wanting to get some of them but the prices vary so much, it's hard to decide and I've never seen the #1 anywhere. I appreciate your help.

nana b

12-31-2006, 07:45 AM
Hi Deborah,
The crop puts the focus back where you want it in my opinion. I would give the idea of some icy glaze near the bottom (before cropping) and see if that would keep the eye traveling back to the area of the bushes and the bend. Then crop if that doesn't work!

12-31-2006, 11:14 AM
Thank you so much for this demo!!!
I have learned so many great techniques. Using the color shapers, Dusting the paper first, laying on the underpainting... The Carson River, just down the street, has a similar view and I am itching to paint it, and felt it beyond my capability. Now I have a better idea. This is a great inspiration. You are a marvelous instructor!

12-31-2006, 05:43 PM
Deborah, you've done a good job on this. I really like it, gives me the feeling of standing near that strem on a cold winters day listening to the chuckeling of the water and just feeling nature. Thank you for doing this painting. :) You've put me in a happy mood.

Paula Ford
12-31-2006, 06:42 PM
Deborah, Where did you get that 1" flat color shaper? Paula

12-31-2006, 09:04 PM
. something about the right side of the bank all along the water still looks like it doesn't meet the water right. Again, please, this may be exactly what snow and water look like when you can't see the underneath since it is on "our" side.

Along the edge there is often a crusty bit that's more ice than snow, and some of it doesn't so much go down into the water as hover over it. It can be less opaque than snow, too.
Since most of snowgoose's images are of New Brunswick I assume that this one is; it's certainly typical. Except we have no snow here yet!

I'm enjoying the ride, Deborah! As someone else said, it's a thread to be read over more than once- a lot to digest!

Deborah Secor
12-31-2006, 10:20 PM
Deborah, Where did you get that 1" flat color shaper? Paula

I got it at our local Artisan of Santa Fe. Maybe at the IAPS convention they'll have some.

Yep, It's NB, I think, Wendy. I know what you mean by the icy overhang. Not sure what I'll do yet...


Jo Castillo
01-01-2007, 12:58 AM
Thanks for the demo, I'm going to look for the larger color shaper, too. Beautiful painting. I like the cropped version. When I first saw your title, I thought it would be your recent snow. :)

01-01-2007, 01:21 AM
Thank you so much, Deborah! This demo is simply:

01-01-2007, 11:19 AM
Very interesting demo Deborah...enjoyed it!

01-01-2007, 01:10 PM
Hey did someone see my socks? Deborah you just knocked them off and I can't find them!

Wow - outstanding and thanks for taking the time to bring us step by step. It's a winner!!!!


Deborah Secor
01-01-2007, 03:24 PM
Argh! I couldn't STAND that river... so...

If you learn nothing else from a demo like this one it's that the pros wipe out and start over often! :lol:I discovered from teaching that my students had this really mistaken impression that a 'real' pro made a plan, started out confidently, surely put down every stroke and ended a short time later with a perfectly executed painting. It shocked them when I started wiping away and rearranging things. I guess seeing a finished framed painting should make it look easy, but the fact is we should all be honest about the struggle!

I decided to wipe it out totally and start over.


Whew! Looks better already! O noodled with the bank, then realized that I don't have enough experience to paint what I want to do. So I went to the RIL and found this photo, which has some of the aspects I want to add:

This is a photo by DraigAthar of a New York stream, so it will do.

I'm sorry not to have stopped to take photos of every step of this process but getting on with life is a necessity, so you'll have to be satisfied with my end results. I decided to add ice forming in order to reshape the river and do away with that big heavy dark patch. Here's what I've come up with:


I think it's quieter, a little more interesting, and it still keeps the focus on the turn of the stream and its environs. It may still need some work. I have to consider it for a while, but if I end up hating it I can still crop it in half--which isn't as much of a copout as it seems! I often find that by cropping I improve things.

I'm going to attach a couple of close-up shots of the ice. I found it interesting to do. It's very abstract! I used a pale lavender for the gray of the forming ice, mixed with some of the greens and blues of the sky, to give the impression of the water reflected in the ice, as well as a bit of light, light gray for the snow. I noticed there was a bit of dirt trapped in the ice, so I added that gold, and the pale lavender-blue at the top is thicker ice. I think it works...but not living near icy water I can't be sure. I'm open to thoughts and advice!

I always quote Handell in my classes, "I will listen to your advice, but this is a benevolent dictatorship!" He made the final decisions--and so will I. (And so will you in your paintings!) :thumbsup:


01-01-2007, 03:41 PM
Deborah, I love what you have done. I admire you for starting all over again. I am not sure whether I would have the patience. Did you use your foam brush to brush it all out.
About the ice, and it is just my humble idea, as I am landscaped challenged, but I have seen a lot of ice. When the ice is forming, the edges are still very thin and translucent, you can see that on your reference photo as well. The water will shine through there, there will also be some shine on the ice from the water which is flowing over the edges. The ice is floating on top of the water, so I think there should be a slight hint of a darker line, onto the water to raise the ice a bit. On the ice you mostly see some reflections of the surroundings and sky. The water shines through the ice. Hope this makes some sence. Anyway, just some thoughts. If you don't agree, no problem either. I like the painting, especially the top half.

nana b
01-01-2007, 06:19 PM
Deborah, I really like what you have done to it! You really learned quick on the ice! I started the same painting today and I'm happy with the results so far but it is far from finished. I have been in a bad slump with my art over the holidays and have taken to reading again. I feel like something is really missing when I'm not working on some art and nothing else can take it's place. I thank you for getting me started with your demo. I've been dragging myself around like I lost my best friend or something.:crying:

Thanks again,
nana b:wave:

Deborah Secor
01-02-2007, 11:25 AM
Nana, hang in there. We all go through these artistic slumps and the tizzy of the holidays doesn't help. I'm glad you've found some inpiration here--thanks for letting me know that, too! Just keep painting...

I'm not terribly happy with this painting, but you know, it's just a painting! I always try to keep in mind that the paintings are expressions but they don't 'define' me, you know?

I'm so glad to have been of help to some and I'm more than happy to have shown you all my varous techniques (and trials.) I'm moving on to other paintings now, pushing into my newer style of work, looser and freer than this one. I'll certainly share those, too.



01-02-2007, 12:24 PM
The ice does solve some of the problems you presented. I like the results here. I think one of the most helpful learning experiences for me was when I came across a book on famous authors drafts. Some of those drafts had spelling and grammar errors and terrible syntax and often were worse than any produced in a high school English class, but the authors persisted through draft after draft refining, correcting, subtracting until they ended with the polished works we admire. Same for good art. Thanks so much for sharing the struggle with us.

01-03-2007, 12:05 AM
The turquoise and the orangey firey red work so well together with the white of the snow world here. The icy water fix is top notch! exactly!! what it needed to add interest and break up the large area of water at the bottom of the painting.
A BIG bravo and room filling applause for showing a wipe out and what it looks like and how it's useful and not a sign of failure or of a lack of true artistic talent. It is what it is, just a step in the process of creation, to get where you want the final painting to go. :clap: :clap: :clap:
Watching, watching, watching.....


Merethe T
01-03-2007, 12:00 PM
Deborah, thank you so much for taking time to do this WIP, I'm learning so much from you! Very helpful to study all the close-ups you've provided.
Gosh,I'm one of many(probably) who really hesitate when it comes to brushing off parts of my paintings, but you where right in doing so...I like what you did with the water! Agree with Cindy - big applause for showing that part of the process too!


01-05-2007, 09:07 PM
This whole demonstration is such a great experience. I love to watch how other people work. And..... I agree with the Handell quote about the dictatorship. No matter what others think, it has to please the painter. I look forward to seeing more of these demonstrations. I have a class next week with Diane Munkittrick, a wildlife artist, showing how to do an underpainting on the Wallis. Can hardly wait.

By the way, we had fresh snow here this afternoon in Idaho. Plan to take some picture tomorrow for reference.

Thanks again.

01-07-2007, 12:50 PM
Deborah: thanks so much for this wonderfully informative demo. I've added it to my favorites and plan to review it again, before I embark on my next landscape. Although this one is about the snow and river, some of what you presented on how you do the trees, bushes and sky will be of use for any landscape.

You are a wonderful teacher and make the whole process a lot less intimidating, I think, by showing us that starts and stops are just a normal part of the process. And your sharing of your thought process as you went along in this was invaluable as well.

I agree with Shari: you really should do a demo video. Or, I wonder if downloadable pdfs would be marketable? (I'm thinking they would be a lot cheaper to produce, while offering the viewer the advantage of easy offline viewing and printing.)

I am curious about the color shaper. There are two types; do you use the hard or soft ones? Also, is it possible that you meant a size 10, instead of 1? I checked a few art supply sites, and couldn't find a size 1 anywhere, but there is a size 10. (I'm picturing a well-used color shaper with the "0" of the "10" worn off here. :)) And, the one shaper that I have, a size 2, is really pretty tiny, so I'm thinking that it just seems more logical that the larger one would be a higher number.

If it's really a 10 and not a 1, Blick carries them. Here's the link: http://www.dickblick.com/zz049/35/
...and so does Dakota, here: http://www.dakotapastels.com/pasteltools.shtml

nana b
01-07-2007, 09:45 PM
AnnieA, blick has the 1" colour shaper also and I think that is what Deborah meant. It's in the 'Wider Shaper' catagory. I ordered it a few days ago and I chose the soft type. I'm hoping the soft is correct because I also ordered the set of four or five assorted shapers in soft. I guess it depends on what kind of look you want to create. I apologize for jumping in on your question to Deborah but thought she might be busy and not see it and since I had the same questions I thought I might help.

I would still like to know if she uses the hard or soft, just for the heck of it.

nana b

01-07-2007, 11:02 PM
nana b: Oh sheesh, the mistake was mine. :o I thought Deborah had said "#1", but she really had said "1"" Sorry, Deborah, and anyone else who was confused by my goofiness. ...and thanks, nana, for catching it. :)

01-08-2007, 03:34 PM
[QUOTE=Deborah I think it works...but not living near icy water I can't be sure. I'm open to thoughts and advice!

That's kind of how I felt when I was painting the adobe and desert for your Pastel Strokes!:D
The ice works, I think, quite convincing. I'm not sure about that bright turquoise, think it could be cooler or darker maybe... The foliage and snow are perfect!

edit- I was thinking about a Richard Schmid oil painting of an icy brook; you've got the ice nailed now anyway but here it is for interest sake.

01-10-2007, 01:41 AM
Deborah, this demo is extremely helpful, thank you for taking the time to write it up.

Mary Brigid
01-10-2007, 09:23 AM
Hi Deborah and a very happy new year to you. I have enjoyed looking at your wip. excellent. Thank you
Mary Brigid