View Full Version : New pastel - a breaking wave...

11-29-2007, 01:37 PM
I just finished a new painting, my sixth soft pastel, and thought I would post it for any comments and suggestions.


Even though I live by the sea, I rarely do seascapes but thought I would try one in soft pastel.

For reference, I used several photographs that I took on a stormy evening just before sunset on the north shore of Prince Edward Island. As I was climbing on the cliffs taking pictures, the sun broke through and I took as many photographs as I could.

On a surface of Wallis Belgian Mist paper, I did a sketch with watercolour pencils and brushed the sketch with water to give some underpainting. Nupastels and Rembrandt pastels were used first and then some Terry Ludwig, Winsor & Newton, and Unison pastels were used. I finished with some highlights with Sennelier pastels. A little blending was done in the background and the parts that I wanted to recede. The dimensions are 14" x 22".

In real life, the blues are much grayer and the colours more subdued than in the digital photograph. I am still trying to get used to photographing pastel paintings. Any suggestions for getting true colours in photographs of pastels?


Winny Kerr
11-29-2007, 02:14 PM
Oh wow, that looks so real, it is lovely, one can almost feel that water moving. How nice to live near the Ocean. If you have photo's to share we'd love some.

11-29-2007, 03:04 PM
This is so amazingly real! I first thought it was a photo...
Since I am a beginner in pastel I do not have any advice to give.
Greetings from France.

Deborah Secor
11-29-2007, 03:32 PM
This is a very interesting style of painting, Wendell. I enjoy your composition and control of strokes. The wave is very convincingly done.

Are the colors more like this?
All I did was to lower the saturation a little...not sure if it comes closer. You might play with a photo program to tweak color. I use Photoshop Elements.


Terry Wynn
11-29-2007, 03:38 PM
Lovely, Wendell.

Can't wait to see more!


11-29-2007, 03:44 PM
Incredible work Wendell. I do love your waves, even if they are brighter on the screen than they really are. The reflections on the surface of the water are so realistic that I almost feel like I'm standing in the water just before the wave breaks on my legs.


11-29-2007, 04:17 PM
Thank you Meinhild and Winny for your comments.

Thank you so much Deborah for your help. I am used to taking photos of oil paintings which tend to be the opposite to pastel paintings. I took the photograph outside today and did a bit of tweaking using Photoshop Elements. I try to photograph my paintings on days with a very light cloud cover but I think that the November light and the heavy cloud cover today contributed to the problem. I put the painting next to the monitor when I tried to adjust the colours. Of course, when I would get the cool colours just right, the warm colours would look very garish and vice versa. I sort of went halfway so it looks just a bit garish all over. Desaturating helps but then I lose the tiny touches of pure colours. It could have something to do with the way that the particles of pastel reflect or refract the light. I am using a digital SLR which is very sensitive to that kind of thing. Hopefully, with more practice, I'll get better at this.


11-29-2007, 04:19 PM
I too thought it was a photo first. Wonderfully carefully rendered, totally believable.

How to photo: I guess it depends on the camera, but for me this works:

1) Take picture *without* flash, outside on cloudy day. (Or put painting 90 degrees perpendicular to a window, no flash.)

2) Sunny day. Put painting outside (or by window inside) but don't let blue sky light shine directly on it. Stick it under a table or whatever. No flash.

3) Indoors. Shine a 150 W (or 300 W) halogen light on painting, and *use flash*. The combined light works rather well.

(Flatbed scanner. But IMHO, digital camrea gives better result. Scanned usually is overexposed.)

THEN, put painting by computer, and use a program (Photoshop, MS Photo Editor, etc) to 'tweak' the light/dark/colour of the digital photo.
Outdoor shoots usually need lesser blue, and more red and green. Indoor often need a tad added blue, and lessened red. Indoor may need a bit more light, and outdoors may need a bit less light.

Oh, and no matter how you do it, there will always be something that is off. If blues and greens are all right, then the yellows may be totally off. The trick is to find the balance where most of it looks OK.

And you'll never get a glare, as with acrylics and oils. :-)

This is how I do it at my present (lack of) computer savvyness. I want to learn how to put together, merge, good darks and good lights from two savings of the same photo.


nana b
11-29-2007, 04:29 PM
It is incredible! Beautiful!


11-29-2007, 05:07 PM
Thanks, Nana and Terry for your encouraging comments.

Thanks, Ronda but you would not have lasted very long standing in the water that day. The waves coming in from the North Atlantic were frigid and the undertow was severe sweeping everything out to sea. The ocean always looks its most magnificent when it is at its most dangerous.

Thank you, Charlie, for your great suggestions. I, too, want to learn how to merge the layers from photos. As I was reading that, I suddenly remembered the "nik Color Efex" brilliance/warmth filter. By lowering the brilliance and then heightening the warmth a little, I managed to get a better result:



11-29-2007, 05:12 PM
This is stunning :clap: :clap: :clap:
Holy smokes ...I can hear...even feelthat ocean. Wow!
Humbly in awe,

11-29-2007, 08:27 PM
That is one nice piece of water! :thumbsup: All three of them.

11-29-2007, 09:22 PM
Oh my, Please get me a dramamine, I'm a bit sea sick. Fabulous!
Thanks for talking the process through. It works!!!!


11-29-2007, 09:30 PM
Wow Wendell, this is so awesome! I have not seen any of your work before, but I'll look forward to it now. The water is fabulous. I would *love* to be able to do wonderful convincing water, but so far it eludes me. What area are you near by the sea? I would love to live by the sea - though at least I'm close enough for a day trip!

11-29-2007, 10:36 PM
However it is photographed this is one outstanding piece of art. I admire how perfect the break in the wave is, the glow through it and the reflections below it with the bit of sunlight warming it. Gorgeous, would cheerfully hang this on my walls.

11-29-2007, 11:22 PM


12-01-2007, 02:56 PM
Wendell this is really lovely. I agree that painting the ocean when it is at its most dangerous time is usually the most dramatic time to do it. There is a motel on the Oregon coast I like going to so I can do studies of turbulent waves while sitting in my room looking out a large picture window. I take photos during the few rain and wind breaks that occur to work out full paintings at home.

Your painting captures the moment very well.


WC Lee
12-01-2007, 04:01 PM
beautiful painting :)

12-02-2007, 02:27 AM
I agree, beautiful!

Mary Brigid
12-02-2007, 01:55 PM
This is stunning. A wonderful work.
Thank you for showing
Mary Brigid

12-02-2007, 02:29 PM
Nice work
I could paint waves forever

12-02-2007, 02:33 PM
Ditto...very nice..I wish it was on my wall!

However it is photographed this is one outstanding piece of art. I admire how perfect the break in the wave is, the glow through it and the reflections below it with the bit of sunlight warming it. Gorgeous, would cheerfully hang this on my walls.

12-02-2007, 06:55 PM
Hi Wendell:
Excellent piece of work. Great shapes, colors and strokes. And it looks like you're on your way to solving the photo issues.

12-03-2007, 09:59 PM
Gorgeous!! This is beautiful!


12-03-2007, 11:01 PM
I don't do pastels and I'm just passin through checking out others people's media....but I can't pass by this without saying Wow!. This is beautiful. Cheers!

12-04-2007, 12:47 AM
Wow! Pretty darned good for your 6th pastel! Beautiful contrasts of color (blues and oranges) captures my heart!

alaskan rose
12-04-2007, 01:26 AM

12-04-2007, 07:26 PM
Gorgeous golden glow in those waves, and really beautifully painted!!


12-04-2007, 07:33 PM
Absolutely stunning!!!