View Full Version : Lily Field on 'blackened' Wallis- patterns and perspective - UPDATED

Deborah Secor
06-12-2008, 09:32 PM
I did this as a demo in my Master Class today. I toned Wallis paper 'black'--really a dark warm color just nearing black--and then I did something entirely different. I was teaching about issues in the foreground, especially focused on the color/value shift that aerial perspective causes. I decided to lightly scumble a rainbow of colors onto the paper to mimic this color shift. So at the very bottom I placed yellow, above that yellow-orange, then some orange, then some red, red-violet, violet, blue-violet, blue and finally blue-green. Maybe you can sort of catch a glimpse of these color bands beneath all the foreground plane in the painting:


The thing I liked was that in working on the near-black tone I found all the color bands harmonized into one big plane. It was remarkable that the impression of the plane receding into space began with that step--you could actually sense the way the bands of color created recession. Why? Well, simply because the colors became cooler and slightly paler in value, which are two of the key components used in creating the illusion of distance.

I then used patterning to create the field of lilies, applying the rule of proportion (bigger in front), and the remaining rules of aerial perspective (in the distance there are softer edges, diminishing contrast and less detail.) It has a moody look, not daytime in New Mexico, that's for sure. In fact I don't recall where I got the reference photo, but it might have been the RIL. I blurred, cropped, reshaped and tweaked it enough that it would probably be more mine anyway by now, but....if you took it, thanks!

Open to your comments always. :wave:


06-12-2008, 09:51 PM
This has such a sense of peace and hope. It approaches a fantasy feeling, so glad it was not covered with butterflies or unicorns. The sense of distance is right on. Thanx 4 posting, it pleaseth thine eyes.

water girl
06-12-2008, 10:18 PM
Deborah, I have to say that this is such a treat for the eyes. The bands of color are lovely and the flowers add such an abundance of interesting texture as well as color. Thank you for your detailed explaination.

06-12-2008, 11:17 PM
Both this painting, and your other "darkened Wallis" are exceptional! I will have to try this "dark" approach.


06-12-2008, 11:40 PM
Deborah....I think this is absolutely gorgeous, very successful in terms of aerial perspective. Thanks for describing the process you went through to create this beauty. Those lucky students:thumbsup:

Rose Queen
06-12-2008, 11:52 PM
The best lesson on color shifts over depth of field I have ever seen! :thumbsup:

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06-13-2008, 12:03 AM
What a great lesson! I can see all those layers now that you pointed them out. I also like how you reintroduced the "warmer values" into the foreground trees. I like the band of black in the very front. Did you leave a band of black around the blue violet area? Were these bands lightly scrumbled over the black? If you are working on the Wallis I know you aren't blending, but just wanted to know how great a concentration of colors were in these bands.
Do you have a picture of the bands prior to doing the patterning?
I'm just full of questions. What color is the sky? You have it very bright. The foreground seems to be in a shadow, cast from early morning? If so wouldn't the sky be a darker value if the sun was rising/setting from behind? Just a nit on a stunning picture.

ALSO...what was the size you were working on prior to cropping, and what size did you crop this down to? I love this crop. I'm assuming this was done on Wallis, what pastels did you use to put the bands of color on with.

I was out plein air painting yesterday with another member on WC, and we were having a ball talking on all manner of things Pastel and WC related. We were both pining away about our desire to take a pastel class from you. But by following all of your threads you are giving us one of the best pastel educations available!

For any newbies out there, read everyone of Deborah's threads, all are packed with great ideas and excellent instruction.

:clap: Kudos to you Deborah, thank you so much for being a great part of WC and sharing all of your experiences with us, they are so valuable to me.

Your devoted ---cyber student,


Deborah Secor
06-13-2008, 12:04 AM
:o You all are making me blush. But thanks! :D

Greg, I appreciate that you sense peace and hope. A field of flowers--ready to be harvested, I hope--is a neat symbol for those things. (And it's no fantasy! :wink2: )

Karen, I'm glad you like the texture. That's a lot of it, too, isn't it?

Don, thanks. Do give it a go.

Cynthia, you're welcome. Happy to share!

Rose, that's very nice to hear....especially when I see so many posts next to your name! Thank you!


Deborah Secor
06-13-2008, 12:17 AM
Carol, now I'm double blushing... :o :o :lol:

To try to answer some of your questions: there's no band of black at all. I used some very dark greens in the immediate fore to give the deeper shadows there. There were no bands of black at all, just the colors lightly, lightly put down over the black base. One of my students took some process shots, so if I get them I'll share here...

The sky is three different blues, gradated from medium light to almost white. I wanted that hazy light, which is so much like milk glass, bouncing light all around (and not at all like the glaring sun we have here that casts harsh shadows.) The photo has lost the color there, trust me... (As a photographer I make a great painter.)

Oh, this is my usual 12x18" piece of Wallis paper, and I've likely lost 1/2" all the way around, so 11x17". (When I mentioned cropping I was talking about the original photo.)

I'm always happy to teach and share whatever folks want to know. Of course, having a class givess you more, I think, than I can tell you here, so I hope you can just come along sometime!

Thanks for all your kind words...


06-13-2008, 12:20 AM
:wave: thanks so much for the great explaination! Definately something to think about, then try! I would love to live nearer to whereever it is that you have your classes! The information and effort you put into your classes are wonderful! Thanks for sharing with the rest of us!

Rose Queen
06-13-2008, 12:24 AM
:...Rose, that's very nice to hear....especially when I see so many posts next to your name! Thank you!
But I've been greeting newbies officially for years, so there's not a lot of content behind that number! :lol:

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Deborah Secor
06-13-2008, 12:50 AM
Glad to, IMaybe! I'm in Albuquerque, a bit far for you to come for classes, I'm afraid.

:lol: Rose! (Or should I call you Diana?) You're bound to have a bit of content there somewhere!


Cheena K
06-13-2008, 04:08 AM

Enid Goyers
06-13-2008, 07:47 AM
This is most impressive and fascinating. It all looks so easy and light!
Thank you also for the explanation.

Deborah Secor
06-13-2008, 09:12 AM
Hey Cheena! Good to see you here. Thanks...

Enid, thank you so much.


Kathryn Wilson
06-13-2008, 09:32 AM
OMG - Deborah, this is just gorgeous - heavenly to look at. I think you've found a "new you"!

Rose Baggs
06-13-2008, 09:37 AM
I'm so greatful for being part of WC so I can enjoy all the artwork and learn from great Artists/instructors like you Deborah. Lovely painting and wonderful explanation of your techniques!

06-13-2008, 11:12 AM
Deborah - I like Carol's term "cyber student." That's me. I learn so much here. Absolutely love the rainbow of colors. Just checking in during my trip to Oklahoma. Not time to comment on everything, but I've been signing on to look a little. Be sure to check on the Pastel Talk, where I posted a link to an article about Nana B in a show here. Hope to see it today.

Deborah Secor
06-13-2008, 11:21 AM
Kat, I could use a 'new me', in more ways than one! :lol: (Just returned from a walk with a 24 year old friend who is walking my behind off--literally. <puff puff>)

Thanks, Rose. This is a great place to hang out and learn, isn't it?

Enjoy your trip, Harriett! Glad you could stop in here, too. I'll go check out the thread on nana.


06-13-2008, 01:48 PM
Deborah, it's beautiful, this one too! You're 'spitting them out' right now, what a treat for us!

Being a cyber student too (thank you, Carol, for the word), I very much appreciate it, Deborah, when you get into your teaching mode. There are ooodles to learn from you.

Your 'rainbow' -- did it go over the whole paper, or over the field only? I ask, because I want to know another thing :-) -- the last colour, the blue-green (or was it green-blue), well, I'd expected blue to be the last one. What was your reason for ending in what I'd thought was a 'warmer' colour than blue? Oh, I'm *asking* out of curiosity, not questioning at all. The result is fabulous, so it obviously works.


Donna T
06-13-2008, 02:40 PM
Thanks for sharing, Deborah. Beautiful painting!!! What a great idea to put the bands of colors down. It's like a road map for aerial perspective. I was wondering about the blue-green that Charlie mentioned too. Was that just a little artistic license? Not that it matters at all, I'd hate to think we have to be slaves to the color wheel.

Donna (another grateful cyber-student)

Deborah Secor
06-13-2008, 02:46 PM
Love the idea of cyber-students! :D Guess that makes me a cyber-instructor, of sorts. (Hmmm, something new for the resume! :lol: )

Oops--I see that I goofed when I wrote that! I ended with the turquoises, mostly.

The rainbow extended up to about where the flowers end in the distance. I didn't use blue because that color is reserved for the greatest distance, usually the mountains on the distant horizon. It's the blue of the sky that filters the colors out, if you will. In fact, whenever my mountains are too dark I simply add a layer of sky color to distance them. The grassy plain is all that held my rainbow. In fact, we set the color wheel up and my students called out the progression of colors to me as I put down a very light layer of the colors, chosen with values in mind, over the black. The black ground makes colors that would most likely have seemed too different and out of place just lie down and play nice together!

I'm glad you asked for clarification, Charlie...


06-13-2008, 03:13 PM
Beautiful, Deborah!!!
Question on the toned "black" background....
Do you tone the entire paper? I'm questioning the reason to tone the sky area black if it needs to be bright and you don't see much of the undercolor or have a need to (or does it show but not in this photo?)
Mmmm mmmm! LOVE the rainbow idea!

06-13-2008, 03:24 PM
I would love to see in process shots your student took. I see the bands, but it would be great to see them before you began working over them This really shows the perspective we may work for, but not achieve so successfully a lot of the times. (I'm saving my money. Southern California is not so far away!)

06-13-2008, 06:09 PM
What a beautifully executed pastel painting. I love it!

Deborah Secor
06-13-2008, 06:57 PM
Beautiful, Deborah!!!
Question on the toned "black" background....
Do you tone the entire paper? I'm questioning the reason to tone the sky area black if it needs to be bright and you don't see much of the undercolor or have a need to (or does it show but not in this photo?)
Mmmm mmmm! LOVE the rainbow idea!

Thanks, Cindy. I did tone the entire sheet almost-black. I keep the wet pastel thick and impasto, and although I don't think it's necessary to undercolor the sky black, I do find it hard to paint around. (I'm not a painter, though, so perhaps that is flavoring my decision.) I like the overall tone to be the same, personally, because it maintains the same value structure--but there's more than one way to do it, so I always strive not to become dogmatic in painting!

Jan, I'd like to see those shots, too, and if I get them I'll share. Um, one thing, I live in New Mexico, not California, if that's what you were referring to! :wink2:

Thanks to you, too, Jill.

I appreciate all your comments!

06-13-2008, 10:10 PM
This is so beautiful and inviting. I'd love to walk through the field and pick a bouquet of fresh flowers.


Deborah Secor
06-13-2008, 10:37 PM
Thanks, binkie! Me too...let's go. :wink2:


Mary Brigid
06-14-2008, 11:12 AM
Hi Deborah,
This is a beautiful painting and a wonderful lesson on creating distance as well as doing underpainting. I have read it about 6 times and I hope it will sink in. This is a lesson I really needed. Thank you so much.
Mary Brigid ( another of your Cyber Students)

Mary Brigid
06-14-2008, 11:40 AM
Deborah I am back again like a pest :o

Deborah you said you keep the wet pastel thick and impasto..... Do you wet it with alcohol or water? And when you mean impasto do you paint over it while it is still wet?
Thank you
Mary Brigid

Deborah Secor
06-14-2008, 02:53 PM
Thank you, Mary Brigid. I use plain old water and very little so that it makes a sort of thick paint-like substance to tone the paper. I wait until it's dry to start pasteling on top.


Pat Isaac
06-14-2008, 05:17 PM
Hi Deborah, i am not one to crit landscapes but I think this is beautiful especially the foreground. I hope you don't mind a knit pic from a non landscape painter, but I wonder if the transition from foreground to middle ground is a little too quick. Just a suggestion....I love the feeling of this piece and that always comes through in your work.


Deborah Secor
06-14-2008, 05:22 PM
If you mean that the middle-ground seems underdeveloped, yeah, I think so. I did it in class as a demo in less than an hour of painting, and showed the photo of it here just to share. It's not completely finished but then I never really consider a painting finished until it's had...oh...six or eight months of shelf time! :rolleyes: :D Seriously, it takes that long before I can objectively decide on the tweaks sometimes.

Thanks for the compliments!


Pat Isaac
06-14-2008, 05:30 PM
Oh, I absolutely understand that and I do that myself. It will be a gorgeous painting. I am always enamored of landscape painters and the moods they create. It is just beyond me in my art.


Deborah Secor
06-14-2008, 05:41 PM
As it is beyond me to paint traditional still life paintings...but I love them, even if I can't seem to do them! :D


06-14-2008, 05:48 PM
Beautiful as the other was Deborah. I am quite interested in the toning of the paper in a dark, have only used the dark papers...
I thought I was the only one who stored paintings for months until I decided what they needed, and do I like it and do I frame it?,lol! I have been reaarranging my studio space today, and have paintings spread all over the guest room at the moment, as I plan on getting some of them out and deciding what to do! Tres

Deborah Secor
06-14-2008, 06:18 PM
I keep mine bagged up and in my portfolio so that I can continually get them out and look through them. I sort and sort and sort them, and only a few--very few--come out and go into a frame. Most come out to be worked on some more, and a few come out and go right into the scrap heap! If a painting makes it past the six month mark it has a chance to be considered for a frame--and if it makes it a year I'll sometimes frame it 'for myself', hanging it in my house so I can continue to look at it. Some of those come off the wall, are unframed for further tweaks and then get reframed, and some don't need that. A few go into a gallery or show... I find the test of time is far more accurate than the test of my early opinion! I have to 'fall out of love' with them to see them accurately--you know what I mean? :rolleyes:


06-14-2008, 06:25 PM
Oh yea, those "rose colored glasses" need to come off first!
I have some that will go in the wash heap, I'm sure, for recycled paper use!

Mary Brigid
06-14-2008, 06:47 PM
Thank you Deborah for the explanation. :thumbsup:
Oh I would like to be picking up the trash For you Deborah and Tres. Your trash would be my treasure :)
Mary Brigid

Deborah Secor
06-14-2008, 08:35 PM
Okay, here you go. This is as close to showing you the underpainting as I can get:

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/14-Jun-2008/23609-rainbow_under_1.jpgI had already added the flowery shapes and begun the dark streaks, using three different values/colors of green. Most of those strokes you see are done with a 1" wide colour shaper turned on edge. Very convenient!

Here's the second shot, after I added the medium greens, again in three different values/colors:

It's all about patterning using repeated shapes and colors, controlling scale.

Hope this helps you understand better what I did. (Kinda fun for me to see, too! :D )

Thanks, Malinda, for the photos!!! :wink2:


06-14-2008, 11:26 PM
Oohhhh! Deborah I think I'm in love :) what a great painting. I would absolutly love to hang out in this field of ever.

Deborah Secor
06-15-2008, 10:04 AM
Thanks, Scott. It's a soothing place, I agree!


06-15-2008, 01:48 PM
It's beautiful, Deborah....I think the technique has given the color more depth. It all seems very rich. It really has a great feeling of distance as well, which I know was part of the point. Well done! Thanks for sharing....I think we have all learned something from it.
And you have a nice painting to boot!


06-15-2008, 08:01 PM
This is very pretty Deborah!

Deborah Secor
06-15-2008, 09:26 PM
Thanks, Sandy. It's a fun exercise and a good way to remember the recession of color.

Thank you, Holley.

Now to do that same rainbow in reverse in the evening sky at sunset... In theory it should work! :wink2: