View Full Version : Bi-Weekly Pastel Challenge!

10-06-2008, 08:56 AM
Hi all you artists and welcome to the Bi-weekly Pastel Challenge! Every two weeks, I will be proposing a new and fun project to help you learn, explore, and have a blast with pastels.
This challenge is for all skill levels, and is open to soft pastel, hard pastel, and pastel pencil.

This week’s challenge is:
Three Primaries plus Two

Painting in a limited palette can be challenging to any artist, but in pastel it is a real challenge indeed. As we cannot readily mix like paint to achieve different colors, we must rely on our ability to use value changes in hue to create contrast.
From About.com:
RYB (red, yellow, and blue) is a historical set of subtractive primary colors. It is primarily used in art and art education, particularly painting (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Painting).[10] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Primary_colors#cite_note-9#cite_note-9) It predates modern scientific color theory (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Color_theory)

So, with that in mind, your challenge is to create a painting using only Red, Blue, and Yellow, plus two others of your choice.
Please post your finished painting, and if possible, a picture of your chosen sticks you used to create it.
This is a two week long project, so you have plenty of time to be inventive, and welcome to do more than one. There is no time limit, so take as long or as little as you like. I am excited to see what everyone comes up with!

Here are some examples of paintings using the Primaries:

10-06-2008, 09:03 AM
Here are some pictures you can paint from or use your own!
Some of these are from the RIL and some are my own:

Deborah Secor
10-06-2008, 09:22 AM
Kewl idea, Tress! Great exercise. Will you share some of your own paintings with us at some point?


10-06-2008, 10:13 AM
This sounds very interesting Tressa. Count me in.


10-06-2008, 11:59 AM
not sure how far i'll get in doing my own, but will be watching for certain!! and WOW, that top example is just stunning!!!! what a treat for a monday morning!!

10-06-2008, 01:30 PM
Oh yes Deborah! I will be doing at least one! I hope you will also!
Doug, glad you can make it
Chewie, hope you can, but at least you can be watching!

10-06-2008, 02:22 PM
Do black and white count as the other colors? That'd make it a lot more difficult. I'd rather go with green and purple for my two other colors, or green and orange. Also, is this limited to those hues or limited to a total of five sticks. It'd help a lot if I could have warm/cold yellow, red and blue involved.

Now that I'm thinking about it though, it's tempting me to try different levels of it and do at least one where all I'm using is five specific sticks.

10-06-2008, 02:52 PM
Robert, black and white do count, and as to five sticks or hues of each, it is up to you to interprete...:) I would love to see you produce something with just 5 sticks; it can be done...

10-06-2008, 05:59 PM
I'm inspired -- yes, I'll do it with only five sticks! I even know which five now, having seen a WIP that made it make sense to me. I need to do some mixing tests to choose the exact hues, but I know what I'll do with it now.

10-06-2008, 08:04 PM
Sounds like fun! I'm in!

10-06-2008, 08:36 PM
Oh! That's great Linn! I can't wait to see the results, and I hope you enjoy the process!

10-06-2008, 09:50 PM
I just couldnt wait to try this challenge! Thanks Tressa!! I used 5 sticks: blue yellow red & blk & wht... VERY hard not to reach for the hue I wanted or a softer stick.. but feel I learned alot!! I would C & Cs.. I think it is too busy for one thing...It is on strathmore pastel paper 11x 14.. gonna try the work around for attachments.. fingers crossed


10-06-2008, 10:06 PM
WHOA THAT IS HUGE.. & where did that line come from??? I guess when I went to resize it in gimp...?? Well lemme try a smaller image..hopefully without the mark..411011

10-07-2008, 01:15 AM
maw-t, that is absolutely incredible. What a rich, soft scene with just primaries, black and white! You've really got an eye for mixing colors. I would not have known it was a triad painting without your telling me.

10-07-2008, 05:50 AM
I'll do this. Sounds like fun. I really like the idea behind this challenge and hope that future ones contain similar themes (i.e. forcing us outside our comfort zones and/or or limiting us in some way).

10-07-2008, 07:14 AM
Semele, glad you are joining in the fun, and yes! I will be hopefully pushing you out of your comfort zone with every challenge!T, you have definitely risen to the challenge! This is a lovely landscape, and the blending of the primaries is outstanding. The colors are in harmony and pleasing to gaze upon. The stream and rocks are very well done, and the patch of light just catches my eye in the middle, but allows me to move on thru.I have taken the liberty of placing it in greyscale, and would like to point out, your contrast. The light just moves one thru the painting, and the darks are well placed, along with the middle values. A great sucess.Well I just tried to attach the pic and I have no File mgnt so will try later,Tressa

10-07-2008, 02:39 PM
Well, this one is more than a bit past my ability, but i gave it a try anyway. The lemons are recognizable as lemons, but the napkin totally threw me. Maybe it would have been better if i had attempted it as a plain blue napkin instead of a checkered one. The one success in this is that after a long time staring at the reference photo, i could actually see some nuances of red in there.


10-07-2008, 03:05 PM
Maw-T...beautifully done!

Lori...great job!

Looks like the uploader is working? I'm thinking once you see how much you can do with only a few colors you may want to keep trying...a great learning experience.

10-07-2008, 05:02 PM
Lori, I think you did a great job! It is difficult to use a very limited palette, but I am glad you studied the picture long enough to pick up some red nuances. My suggestion would be to add a bit more layering of the colors next time to develop more depth, but even though you felt the napkin was hard to achieve, you did a standup job anyay. It does look like the lemons are lying in the cloth, and that is a great achievement! And we don not learn, unless we attempt, so bravo!

10-07-2008, 05:06 PM
I was finally able to upload T's in greyscale, and it is lovely....notice how the light in the midground pull you thru the lovely darks in the foreground.

10-07-2008, 05:17 PM

This sounds like great fun!
When I'm painting in watercolors I often start off with a limited palette, but
somehow with pastels they are all sitting there lined up and begging to be used! :lol:

I'll give this one a whirl! Thanks, Tressa.

10-07-2008, 05:20 PM
Great Elsie! And to make it easier on you not to pick up additional sticks, pick out your colors and seperate them, so you are not tempted:p
You could also do this excercise using the Pans:wink2:

10-07-2008, 05:33 PM
These are great! Lori, your lemons rock. It's loose and it's got strong directional strokes, but you conveyed so much depth in it and used the directions of the strokes to convey volume. I like the little red squiggles in there to warm up with red notes. If you wanted to continue it farther, blending and mixing and layering... I'd suggest starting over and keeping this one the way it is. It has so much freshness and such a neat texture in itself that if I did it, I'd do a second one to develop farther so that I could have both of them around. But that's just me.

Tressa, thanks for providing the greyscale of T's magnificent scene. I love that with its depth and beauty, and the mixing was just incredible in soft muted hues.

Thank you for mentioning the pans! I may have to do two of them. I picked out five hard pastel sticks yesterday from my 12 color set of colored Conte crayons, because those are so bright and fun in a small format. But my Pan Pastels just arrived. I'm in color shock. I had no idea the pure tones were that bright from the photos and scans online, and I have all the masstones here. I may do two of these just because I can.

I already scanned the Conte sticks so I'd better do that one too.

10-07-2008, 07:15 PM
Thanks Tressa and Robert for the suggestions and encouragement. I like your suggestion of keeping this one and comparing it to a second try: hopefully i'll get to it later this week.


10-07-2008, 07:49 PM
Thanks yall. Cool to see it grey scale Tressa.. to me this has _many things I would change... (that dark canoe shape on the left & the turkey leg shape on the right LOL &&&...but all in all using only primaries for 1st time I am sorta ok with it... & definately want to try at least one more..

The lemons I like alot.. sort of abstract cubist feel to them that is very appealing!

I am anxious to see some others!!

The lemons

CM Neidhofer
10-07-2008, 10:00 PM
I'm working on the lemons, but this sure is HARD for me!!!! They don't look like lemons, at least not yet. Not sure they will either!! Maybe it's just at that "ugly" stage right now...don't know. But I'll plug away at it some more. I'm using the red, blue, yellow, along with a very pale Ludwig yellow and his wonderful eggyplant color. And making more mud than painting I think. lol :p


10-08-2008, 02:38 AM
Well, had some alone time tonight so decided to get out the 5 sticks again... Now THIS 5 stick thing would definately be the way to go for plein air.. a light load, for sure:) the lemons looked simplier to me ... ( I need glasses).. so gave it shot.. this is one of those I could easily get INTO if I had any patience,, but I am getting sleepy so just stopped..I may try to finish it off with a few more sticks 411332tommorrow..

10-08-2008, 05:55 AM
Maw-t, this is so intriguing. I'm thinking of doing the lemons on my first one, on a small piece of black Colourfix paper. Yours is so jazzy and lively, I'm going to have to get intense with mine and really build it up! The colors bounce and flare out at me, with a lot of optical mixing.

WC Lee
10-08-2008, 06:11 AM
I gave this a try since I have been playing around with limited palettes. The first one I did, for some reason, I thought I get to use 5 colors of my choice, duh :D this is what I came out with :)


Now that I know I am supposed to use only yellow, red, blue, and two other colors of my choosing, I did this one using winsor yellow, winsor red, french ultramarine blue, titanium white, and ivory black. The image was scanned so it is a bit brighter than it should be.


both of these are still rough and probably won't be finishing them.

10-08-2008, 06:47 AM
Robert...yes the Pans are very pristine in color and such fun to use! You can actually have a bit more flexibility with a limited palette, as these are mixable, more like paint.
Lori...It is interesting to do a second painting of the same subject, and see what you did or would have done differently. Great learning !
T...canoe and turkey leg? lol, I never caught that! But it is funny, once we catch something like that, it seems we see only that! But I think the whole is a very well done piece. I could have only nit picked at it with such as this, but it was difficult to crit when I couldn't have the pic right in front of me due to the image issues going on at WC.
The lemons are a very nice bold color nd the little tickle of red really pops!
Cloth is portrayed well, and has a good depth. If you decide to work on i tsome more, is good, but to leave as is is a nice feel.
WC..Glad you joined in! Hope my instructions were not too abstract, lol...I posted this after just flying in late, and got it together about 530 in the morning!
The first lemons are very cool, and they are both really good! Even though you said you used different colors on the first, I seem to pick up a blue/violet, and even though no red is visual, it would still almost qualify.
The second is very fresh and appealing, and I agree, I would leave these as is. They have an appeal and that feel of life drawing. One would never guess these were from a photo.

I am glad everyone is enjoying this challenge, and I have many more planned to make you think, and pull you out into the creative zone!

10-08-2008, 09:54 AM
Hi, what a fun challenge, Tressa!

Maw-T -- both are gorgeous!

W.C. -- you're just great at still-life, they are wonderful!

Lori -- really nice! And you did discover an important thing, 'stuff', like colours, that first seem to be absent, are actually there somewhere in some form.

I'll post mine when the attachments deign to work...


10-08-2008, 10:09 AM
Hi, the uploader doesn't love me :crying: :rolleyes:

Seems I have to try with two posts.


I tried the challenge, but simplified heavily to save time and effort. Two 15 minute sketches of *one* lemon. (Looks more like mango, though... :-D )

Both roughly sized A5, about 8x5" or so.
Paper: Light blue Tiziano ... yes, that was a bit of cheating, but I didn't *have* white paper.

Sticks for the first one (pic above, I don't dare to mess more with the uploader) are: Red: a dark warm, Yellow: a bright coolish, Blue: a dark ultramarine. Extra Pink: warmish, and Extra Blue: warm, lighter.

The reason for this choice was: I needed darks, hence the dark blue and the dark red. I hesitated between cool or warm red, but chose warm. The coolish lemon yellow was for obvious reasons, and the warmish pink for lightening dark red and darkening yellow. Finally, the warm blue for blending with yellow to get green.

And here is the 15 minute sketch :o :


The photo has lightened the reflected light in the shadow mass, it is of a correct value IRL. Lemon yellow and warm blue worked so-so to make greenish. I feel that the good choices for this one was: the pink, the dark blue, the warm blue. Less brilliant were the lemon yellow and the warm red.

So I made some changes for the next one, in the next post.


10-08-2008, 10:25 AM
OK, I've figured this out: type text *before* inserting the pic.

This time I picked: Yellow: a light but warmer, Red: dark and cooler, Blue: a pure ultramarine (just for fun, as I knew the darker one worked well), Extra: Warm blue (same), and Extra: White.

Same reasons as before, but I skipped the pink and chose white to be able to manipulate tints.


(Getting the hang of this attachment inserting!)

Now, this choice worked fine in making green with warm blue and warmer yellow, but unfortunately the camera and PS won't read it right. And the white made life way easier. I blended quite a bit in this one.

15 minute sketch, same size as before:


Very instructive challenge. I'd like one or two sticks more, though. I guess I could get by on one warm and one cool of each of the primaries, plus white and a TL almost black aubergine.

I might try this some more another day, I learned a lot, and confirmed some stuff I actually know.


10-08-2008, 10:43 AM
Oh Charlie these are great 15 min dos....and we pastelists always want more colors:lol:
I see what you mean with your first choices, the green results. It was a great learning experience for me to see the differences your color choices made in the final outcomes. I do think the addition of a "white" does make life a little easier, but you could have used a pale blue, or pink, cream etc...
what fun! I have mine started, but not finished yet.

10-08-2008, 12:56 PM
Great lemons WC.. I like them both.. but the softness of the first keeps me coming back to look at it...

Ok.. Tressa, here is th boat & turkey leg.. 411479
Betcha want look at it again without seeing them :lol: .

10-08-2008, 01:11 PM
Charlie, I thought this would be right up your alley.. with all those bright lucious paintings of yours... Great experiments & good outcomes... Thanks for sharing both.. I am hoping to try another one.. mmm..but which one??? I think the flowers.. or maybe one of those GORGEOUS examples... THis is fun & I am anxious to others experiments!!
Ps.. make that WON't (not want) in previous post. Spelling errors are a specialty of mine.. but that one bugs me...

10-08-2008, 02:34 PM
Charlie, those are great! You've inspired me, reminded me that I don't have to try this large or slow. I'm going to start with my colored Conte sticks, because I already picked out the ones to do the lemons with and scanned them. Then try them again or another one with Pan Pastels.

I like doing limited palettes, but I tend to change which ones I'm doing when I do them. Neat color choices you made for your secondary colors. I ought to do one that doesn't use white just to see what I can do with something else for the lightest value.

Here's my sticks:


Now to find out what I can do with them. I used the dark blue-violet because I do want some deep darks in it but want to keep it very colorful, and needed white for underpainting the lights on the black Colourfix card that I used as its backdrop. It's 2 1/2" x 3 1/2", another of my ACEO art cards.

Here is the white on black value underpainting that I'll go over with the colors in my next post:


Maybe I should follow Charlie's example and only put two pictures per post though. Now to start playing with color on something that can take lots and lots of layers! I'm used to using Canson Mi-Tientes and some Hahnemuhle velour. When I bought the Colourfix rainbow packs, I put off using them because they were so expensive and kept doing lighter pieces on other surfaces. Now I've got three paintings in progress and I need to get used to the freedom of this surface and mixing on it as well as play with primaries. So this'll help my big WIPs too! Thanks for the challenge!

10-08-2008, 03:21 PM
Two more stages and the little thing is livening up!

I put a layer of yellow over all of the lemons and lightly put some blue in where the medium and light blues are. I left some of the deepest darks black here. This just establishes local color. I wanted yellow under everything else I mixed so that the darks and browns and oranges and so on would all have that element of yellow with other colors reflected into it. So now it at least looks like it said hello to the photo reference:


Then I got crazy and put red on top of yellow in a yellow lemon. This is the kind of bold mixing that I have to thank you for, Charlie, because I tend to be so careful not to go past the literal colors. So maybe this one will have some of the radiant brightness I've always associated with pastels done well. This is outside my comfort zone, which makes it fun.

It's freaky, but it's cool looking and they are more rounded now with their darks and lights in. I can mute them down with violet and blue later, but had to see how the red-shadowed lemons would look. I almost want to do lemons in a red cloth sometime to do them this color for real.


10-08-2008, 04:26 PM
Last two stages! I started putting in the deep violet in the darks, and blending it into the reds to mute them and create more different hues. I played around a lot with the colors on things and detailed some things. I did some blending and then went over the blended areas. This stage I decided it was nearly done, but still looked rough:


The scans on the color stages I didn't darken at all. I refined it some more and did a lot of blending with a Colour Shaper, adding more of all the colors wherever they were needed. Detailing and blending, shifting tones, adding just a touch of greens here and there with blue and yellow so that I'd have the spectrum in it to some extent. Yellow over black also sometimes made some greens.

Then I sprayed it with fixative and it darkened significantly. Cool, I liked that, so I used it as an opportunity to strengthen the values. I highlighted the lemons again and went over the yellows one more time and just a touch of the reds, then added only the very brightest highlights on the blue cloth and signed it overto the right over a dark fold of cloth. I darkened the scan one step in order to better match the way the finished art looks.

I enjoyed this a lot! I'm looking forward to trying it again with different pastels and surface. I have some primaries picked out in my handy Mont Marte set, which is softer, and of course I have my Pan Pastels stacked up to give me primaries. I love it that this challenge is running for two weeks so that I can do more than one of these!

I'm happy with how rich and colorful this one came out though. C&C welcome. I am over my head doing this in pastels, when I'm too used to careful color matching and only shifting the light a bit if I change colors. This was a lot of fun!


10-08-2008, 04:40 PM
Robert, you have been busy!!! I have to say that you did a wonderful job and I am do glad you are enjoying the challenge. These look lovely and the red on the lemons worked beautifully! The cloth is good, and the lemons sit down in , all round standup!!!! I am really glad also you placed your stages in, that was perfect!

It's hard for me to crit all these as this challenge is sooo out of most peoples comfort zone, (mine included:p )and you all have had such good results, and had such fun, I think it is a resounding success as a first challenge!!!

10-08-2008, 05:19 PM
Maw-T, thanks! But why, oh why did you show the canoe and the turkey-leg!?! :-D I won't be able to get those out of my mind, and I really thought your landscpe to be so very lovely.

Tressa, thank you! Funny how totally many possiblities there are, with just 3 primaries, and two extras (and colour of paper, let's not forget that!). I'm, like, totally not used to work this way. (Did this a decade ago, with *oils*, so you could *mix* with white, and the other colours, waaaaay easier.) I'm lured into doing more, I think, as I'm pondering colour-combos. :-)

Robert, ah, another of the itty-bitty gems. It is beautiful and accomplished! Glad to have inspired! Actually, there is a lot of red in those shadow sides of the lemons, in the photo, I upped the light of the shadows in PS as I suspected it, just to check. And lo and behold.

Black paper (and I guess some other really dark) is clearly a choice that works extremely well as it gives depth to the shadows, with 'no' effort. That means you can choose lighter coloured sticks. (You're giving me ideas!)

Darkening with fix was either extremely clever, or cheating! LOL! Great way to get darker values with same sticks as for the midtones.

Notice you mention having the whole spectrum in a painting -- IMHO, that is part of what makes it come alive. Doesn't have to be much, but have to be a bit of all.

Robert, yours did become alive!

Questions: If you'd not put the reds in the shadow planes, where would you have used the reds, more normally? To turn the shapes, to darken yellow?


10-08-2008, 06:41 PM
LOL, now all I can think is "turkey leg":lol:

Here is mine, and it was a challenge for me as like Charlie, I have played with a limited palette in paints, but never in pastel!
A lot of fun, and I am going to try more of these also! I was amazed at the range I could get by just these sticks tho, I must admit. Tressa


10-08-2008, 08:02 PM
:wave: Hello! I have read thru this, and its quite interesting. I have a question, tho. You at first said , create a painting using primary colors plus 2 of your choice----no limit to the amount of sticks, right? So you could used blue, and 2 or 3 other values of blue----then red, with seaveral values of red and so on for yellow, right? Then the 2 choices that you may add, like purple and orange or black and white ( your choise) and different values of these hues----is this understanding the challenge right? I see that some have used only one stick of each primary color, then added the 2 they chose, which is OK----some are very nice, espeicially Maw-T's--but is that what the challenenge is? only one value of each primary color? Please let me know, as I want to try this and I want to understand. Thanks! And congrats on your win, Tressa! (The water scene, and the Richeson award)

10-08-2008, 08:37 PM
Imaybe, thanks...
As to the challenge, it is up to you...the challenge is to use a limited palette, and you can choose to be very limited, and only use 5 sticks, or make a slightly limited palette by adding values to the colors. The three primaries, plus a dark and a light is the most challenging of course. The basis of the idea is to "push" yourself to be creative outside of your comfort level, and to think about your choices and how they will affect the outcome.

10-08-2008, 08:40 PM
Thank you, Tressa! I was a bit worried that posting my stages would seem to be monopolizing the thread for a while, very relieved that it's a good idea! I'll do that again on my next one if it's easily scannable.

Charlie, the degree to which the fixative darkened the whole piece was a bit more than I expected. It was serendipity, so I wasn't cheating but won't claim cleverness. I knew it'd deepen the colors and that I'd have to freshen it up after using it because I always do, it was only after using it that I thought "Hey, what if all I freshen up are the highlights and leave the darks and mids this dark?" It worked, and I'm happy and will do this again on other paintings to strengthen values. So serendipity became experiment.

As for my usual way of using it, I would have put some in the shadow planes but not that much. I might have scrubbed around on an index card with the red and the blue and the yellow to mix a powder and tried to match the exact hue of each shadow area, then put it in with a Colour Shaper. It wouldn't have been as layered. It'd have a loose layer and then a toning layer and then maybe some details and that's it. I love how this one came out. Even though the hard sticks filled the tooth faster, I was still able to get much more mixing on the page and more layers! Sometimes I alternated red and yellow four or five times in those shadow areas, then when I did the blue I put more of them in some... it was fun mixing on the paper!

I'm also finally using a batch of little ACEO blanks I cut from a couple of Colourfix sheets a while back ago. I gave some to a friend but only did one or two myself. I did them in colored pencil and got a more pastels-like look with them in colored pencils. But I kept putting off using them and doing pastel ACEOs with the Canson Mi-Tientes ones! I'm very used to dark, medium and light tinted grounds because I've spent decades consuming Mi-Tientes in so many of its colors. I lived on Canson Mi-Tientes for several years and it's still a great sketching/drawing paper. But I'm getting spoiled for pastel painting by the Colourfix now!

Thanks for your tip about the whole spectrum! I always liked it when I saw that in pastel paintings, now I understand a little more of why. I kept wondering how to do it -- and these lemons, I got it. I almost picked an acid light green instead of the blue-violet but I'm glad I didn't.

I forgot all about the boat and turkey leg, Tressa. Even though you mentioned them, I still just love that landscape too much. Too tempted to paint that one in PanPastels myself, or with softer sticks.

Your lemons are awesome! So lively and powerful! I like the bold blacks and strong strokes you used and the neat shapes of the strokes. You have a lot of cool little patches of pure color in it that make it all jazzy and use optical mixing much more than I did. I love seeing how every artist does this same reference with more or less the same palette and comes up with completely different results!

I would love to see all of them posted together. When this challenge closes will you have a final page with large thumbnails of everything massed together? Also, can we continue to use the references after the challenge? I can't remember if some of them were yours or if they all came from the RIL. I saved them off and I'd like to try both the landscape and the lemons again later with a larger palette.

Congratulations on your Richeson award and water scene, Tressa! That rocks, that so totally rocks.

IMaybe, it's on the first page. The original challenge was: red, yellow, blue and two colors of your choice. It's okay to use multiple sticks of the colors you choose, but black and white do count as colors. The color of your surface doesn't count as a color. I covered my surface almost completely even though I used black and only used black to make sure I wouldn't have little white specks in my darks. I would have been doing a black underpainting on white if I'd used a white piece of Colourfix, the same process in reverse.

So I may lighten up and do one with multiple reds, yellows, blues and b/w, just mixing all my secondaries. Or go red, yellow, blue, white and green and mix all my darks. Tressa suggested that she wanted to see me do it with only five sticks, so I did it with the brightest most mixable set I have. I had good success mixing colors with colored Conte crayons on white sketchbook paper for a number of demo drawings, so I figured they'd be good on Colourfix. Turns out I might have gotten more blendy if I'd used softer ones.

Some wicked part of me wants to take the landscape and do it in near monochrome and use my Sennelier Blue Notes with just a few touches of red and yellow into some of them, with white and black as my extra colors. I bought the now-discontinued Blue Notes set because I wanted to try doing monochromes with them, but being able to send them off toward purple and green with added warms would make that a very rich monochrome. Or near monochrome. Maybe I could turn the light into that really blue part of evening with just the occasional goldy-pink highlight from the sinking sun.

WC Lee
10-08-2008, 08:41 PM
T: nice work on the landscape :) I see the boat and the drum stick now :D and good job on the lemons. And thanks :)

Lori: you did good :)

Tressa: thanks :) the colors on the first one was flinder's blue-violet, tinted rose red, yellow ochre, lemon yellow, and a very tinted burnt umber which should have been white but I was too lazy to get it. Hmm actually, it does conform to the rules that was set :D

nice work on the lemons, seems like everyone liked the lemons, is it because it looks the easiest?

Charlie: thanks :) I have my moments on occasion :D I see you are really putting those unisons to work, you really like them huh? And you still haven't broke them in half yet. Very good work on the lemon and now, now, the challenge is to use less sticks not more :D

Robert: great job :) very systematic in your approach, something I find hard to do, I like to find my way through the chaos :D

IMaybe: the challenge is to use only 5 sticks of colors, 3 of which is yellow, red and blue. The other two is any color of your choosing.

10-08-2008, 09:01 PM
WC..Easier??? Of course not:evil:
Actually, I did find it funny that the lemons were popular, but maybe it was the affect of the yellow already being prominently there, but that checked cloth was a beasty thing:lol:
The others have no set primary readily available visually, except maybe the other still life. hmm...

And now that you named your colors in your first lemons, they definitely qualify!!!!!:p

Robert...not sure how we'll end the thread, but the landscape and the lemons are from the RIL, and you can use them again after the challenge.
My Nicky(yorky) has been painted plenty of times, so you are welcome to use this photo and the still life of my breakfast table!!
My son, I prefer to just be used for the challenge:wink2:

10-08-2008, 09:22 PM
Any of you horse lovers wanna take this challenge, this is the white horses of Provence. They are born dark, and change color as they mature. I wanted to have this in the first page but the image uploader was going funky!

Winny Kerr
10-08-2008, 10:04 PM
This is a real challenge and a fun one too. I love some of the entries and have a better idea now as to how this works.
Is this a timed challenge? Or can we take as long as we need? And are we to only use the given photo's or are we allowed to use other foto's? Just making sure.
I'm glad we have two weeks...... :lol: Winny

10-08-2008, 11:26 PM
Oooh Tressa, I am so tempted. Thank you for letting me use your yorky and breakfast table still life! Are your white horses open after the challenge too? I'd love to do that one very large as a gift for my horse loving daughter. But with my WIPs I don't think I could do it that scale of justice in the time available.

Thanks for correcting me on the multiple sticks of primaries issue. I'll still probably do a Blue Notes scene landscape sometime, just won't try to do it right away -- this is too exciting!

Either that or I'll use just one of them and do it anyway with one of the best blues, or two blues ... oooh, I could use three blues and a red and a yellow... dang now you have me thinking about the dang blue painting again! I don't need all of them but three values of blues would be nice in that, and the lightest is so near white that it'd serve.

Oh wow. I could combine those ideas and try to do White Horses of Provence in the evening... that would be utterly cool. I always loved twilight time...

10-09-2008, 06:55 AM
Winny...this is not a timed challenge, take as long as you like within the two week period. And the photos are just to give some idea of subject matter, you can use your own if you like.

Robert...you are so enthusiastic! I love it! And yes you can use my horses outside this challenge for your daughter, I have a lot of shots of these beatiful animals.
This pic would be lovely in blue tones as the horses have a blue cast to their coats, especially in the shadows.

10-09-2008, 10:02 AM
Wow, this is such a fun thread too, and a fantastic challenge. I love all the different lemon pics everyone did, and especially enjoyed Robert's WIP on the lemons. There is something so compelling about that lemon photo. In fact, back in 2005 when I was just starting out in art and pastels I tried that lemon pic myself from the RIL. :lol: So I didn't do it again. But you can see the one I did as a newbie here:

though I'm quite sure I used more than 5 sticks! Anyway .... for this challenge I used a ref photo of my own that I took in Greece back in 1994, sunrise over the Gulf of Corinth. I'm down in NC for the week with just a limited palette of pastels anyway, though more than 5 of course, :D I "cheated" a bit with the blue, choosing a lighter tint rather than a standard primary blue. But I did use only 5 sticks.I used NuPastels on a 9x12 sheet of Colourfix paper. My dark is not black but actually a very dark sort of pine green. So I spent about 30-40 minutes on this this morning when I first woke up. Here are the sticks I used, and the pic itself.

Deborah Secor
10-09-2008, 11:08 AM
Sally Strand does this kind of thing better than anyone I know. Look at this one:


Love the vibrancy she achieves!

I'm so busy writing and trying to do a yard sale this weekend that I probably won't have time to take part in this BUT I may introduce the idea to my students today at class. We'll see...


10-09-2008, 12:30 PM
Oooh Tressa, I love your lemons.. so vibrant.. almost like a negative photo feel.. very appealing to me & bold..

Pretty landscpe Debbie & only in 40 mins?? good job.. also nice lemons!!

Yummmm Deborah.. taht IS beautifully done.. tahnks fo showing it.

I worked on my lemons some more.. I dont sketch first when I paint I just start in & sometimes... (alotta times).. I WISH I had taken the time to place things... as here, I had way too much foreground left that I had to make up in my head... the first foto was cropped, This one however shows "the _rest of the story":rolleyes: 411714..Plus I worked on fringe & this & that..
This is on 8x10 suede matboard.. boy I love the no mess with matboard.. NO residue or dust!!

10-09-2008, 12:41 PM
Robert, wonderful lemons! Thanks so much for showing the progess.. I enjoyed that alot!!

10-10-2008, 12:25 AM
Well, I just cant enough of this limited pallette thing.. This one I did with several shades of red, yellow, blue, then white & a very dark plumish,blue color. I then did touches with a limish green.. Not quiet as limited, but almost... I posted to the sketch thread with this one at about the 1 hr mark.. then spent probably another 1/2 hr to get to this stage...411833This image I got from the RIL.. Paul444 provided it.

10-10-2008, 01:54 AM
Oh wow, so many cool ones posted since I last looked at this thread. I love this challenge. Going to have to try the horses. Happy news, I may have time to try the horses in depth because my WIPs are going well -- the toughest one I made a lot of progress tonight. So the Horses of Provence are definitely on my To Do list when my current WIPs are done. Thank you so much for letting me continue to use the photo, Tressa! They are what I have planned for my daughter's Christmas present, do them big in Pan Pastels.

I have yet to get horse anatomy accurate enough that she doesn't smile indulgently and point out a broken leg or something after I sweated over a horse-art present for weeks. But this time's the charm.

Debbie, I liked your lemons. Interesting choice of blue for your primary three -- it made sense to use one that light for the sky. That painting of Greece is so fascinating. I love the strong darks and the depth, the sense of being there. It draws me in and makes me feel as if I've been there, it's immediate and personal. You must have had a wonderful time on that trip. I especially like how you managed to darken the blue on the road and sign without losing its blueness -- it's probably harder than lightening Pthalo Blue to the sky tint would have been.

Deborah, thanks for sharing the Sally Strand painting. It's inspiring! I love the vibrancy and the variety of muted subtle hues in the darks that help support it.

Maw-T, I love the way you showed "the rest of the story" and made the scene a sunpatch in a shadowed place. That is so beautiful, you made the light brighter with that contrast. Like the progress on this and it's coming out so great! This is setting ideas dancing in my head about cats in sunpatches.

Your apples and reflections are great too. Striking reflections. It looks like you've got them on a mirror, perfectly mirrored, with that line running across it like the seam of two mirror tiles placed close together. Both of yours are so lively and full of motion.

I love this thread. It's got me going on so many cool things -- and with my WIPs so far along, there's time for me to do more than one of the cool things it's inspiring me to!

10-10-2008, 01:59 AM
Looking close at White Horses of Provence and counting hooves, there's another horse visible only in its legs ahead of the leftmost one. Just in the right position that if I carefully worked out where the right haunch of that lead horse goes, I could turn it into an eight-legged horse. Old Norse mythology has one, called Sleipnir, he was Odin's horse.

It could be fun trying to draw just that horse and all those legs from the other one. But I might try to eliminate the four extra legs in my painting if I can figure out which hoof is the visible horse's right hindleg. Could you please circle the correct hoof for me, Tressa?

10-10-2008, 06:32 AM
Debbie, great sky and water! The pinks and blue tone just glow. Interesting to use the blue in a lighter hue. Great job!

Sally Strand is one of my favorite artists, and this is no exception!

T...Isn't matboard fun to work with? And I like the full version, but you could crop if you wanted. Love the apples, and that b/g is the bomb! Great visual blending.

Robert, the left horse's hoof is right behind the center horse's right hoof.
It barely peeks out and you cannot see the hip at all, due to the other's head.

10-10-2008, 02:48 PM
I have been asked to encourage you to rate this thread(bottom of message screen) and the subsequent challenges to let us know how you like the them.
I know we have a lot of newbies and you may not be aware of the rate thread attachment at the very bottom of the reply screen.
Thanks to all the participants so far, and hope you are having fun with this!

10-10-2008, 02:55 PM
:clap: :clap: :clap: excellent:clap: :clap: :clap:

10-10-2008, 03:16 PM
Here's a quick and nasty sketch for the challenge. I choose the little yorkie because of its cute factor. I don't do cute very often. I also tried to use the square side of the conte consistently for the mark making. I used a homemade sanded surface of gesso and volcanic ash on stonehedge paper. I washed off my first attempt and here is my second.

Deborah Secor
10-10-2008, 03:17 PM
I had to cancel the garage sale, and found myself with a spare hour, so I headed for the studio and this experiment! I literally gave it one hour, start to finish including pix and posting here.

Here's my palette. Red, blue and yellow, chosen so they were three values, plus light blue and medium-dark green.

I worked on a piece of 11x14" Somerset Black Velvet and had a BLAST! What fun! Here it is.

Good exercise--thanks, Tress. I'll be adding this to the class at some point I think!


Oh, and I rated the thread, but I've always just gone to the blue bar at the top right-hand side of the page and used the Rate Thread drop down box there...

10-10-2008, 04:34 PM
terri66..ooh he is cute isn't he? This is my baby,Nick and you did capture him very well, and you do a fine job of cute.
I like your choices of colors and the value changes were very good. A good example of using the primaries in a very focused way.

Deborah...cool beans, I gotta try that somerset paper. Sorry your sale got canceled, but glad you had time to play! Great florals, yummy color choices, and I especially am drawn to that center top large fower; perfect fp...
Sounds like you had fun doing this, and I hope you class likes it as much also! I have another really cool challenge planned for the next Bi-weekly:wink2:

Thanks for pointing out the blue bar for the newbies also, I have a tendancy to forget that one.

10-10-2008, 06:24 PM
Tressa, Robert,

Idling and procrasinating and winding down after a funeral, I played with the horses in PS (and learned new things about PS). There were an awful many legs, and I wanted to see if I could figure it out. Would this be right?


My thinking is Painted on the pic below:


Have to say, though, that I think all them legs did add to the sense of movement and gallop, and without them, it is just three horses... sort of.

Tressa, are these the famous horses of La Camargue? Those who are used in the Vienna Spanish School? They are gorgous, especially glazed with water and shiny!


10-10-2008, 06:46 PM
Charlie, yes they are, and they are more beautiful IRL...
And your PS manipulation is correct. The horse legs removed is hidden completely in front of the other two.

10-10-2008, 07:21 PM
LOL, Charlie, that's exactly what I did to sort out the horse legs!

This is so much fun. What a good idea. I decided to try out a quick sketch, and in a hurry to catch the late light before it faded, I only picked one extra stick! That was a very pale grey, one of Unison's, which I prefer for highlights or blending. I meant also to pick out a dark color for shadows, but kind of like the flatness of the shapes that emerged. I made a mistake with the blue I selected, though: it was the wrong pigment to give me the greens I'd hoped for:


Technically, this is plein air: the view is out one of my front windows. It's pretty any time of year, but expecially in the fall. The colors are strikingly beautiful this year. 5x7 inches, on a matboard cutout with sanded surface added. I scanned it, and for some reason had some trouble with adjusting the colors (I usually use my camera), so the colors are not quite right.


Dayle Ann

10-10-2008, 08:10 PM
Horray for you Dayle Ann, both the challenge(with only 4 sticks) and plein air to boot! Great shapes and a abstract air to it. The colors glow on my monitor, great belnding here, those oranges just pop!. I like the ball shaped tree also, and the addition of the man made object(bldg) is great also!
The only suggestion I would make compositionally is the tree behind the round one. I would have moved it over a little to the left or right , or made the foliage fuller and wider,so it did not look as if it was growing out of the top. But overall , superb job!!!

10-11-2008, 01:07 AM
I rated this thread Excellent. I'm loving every post. Cute little blue Yorkie, Terri! It's neat that you made your own sanded paper. I may even try the volcanic ash or other things someday, but for right now I'm just looking forward to getting some Colourfix primer since I'm starting to get used to Colourfix's surface. One new paper at a time!

Deborah -- wow! Such great values. You planned this so well. I ought to try one by spreading out my five colors to form a value sequence too -- maybe will do that on Horses where it'll be easy when three of the five sticks are blues. I'll be mixing brands on that because I want to use my Sennelier Blue Notes, and don't have any Sennelier red and yellow -- but I have Rembrandts with reds and yellows in the set.

Your color combinations came out so wild too. It's a gorgeous scene and I love it that you were able to do that in an hour. I might try a one-hour one on velvet paper sometime, I have some and some practice with it.

Tressa, thank you for pointing out the correct leg to keep! I wasn't sure of it but I thought that might be the real one.

Charlie, thank you for photoshopping it so I have the choice of simplifying or not -- doing one horse, three horses, four horses or Sleipnir. Now I want to do all four versions! I might change the background on Sleipnir and combine him with an Icelandic meadow scene.

Dayle Ann, your colors are so exciting. I'd guess it's the green that's off, though you were saying the blue you chose wasn't doing what you wanted it looks as if the scan tilted toward the oranges. It's so cool you did this of your own view plein air. So cool you narrowed it to only four sticks!

We don't get colors like that in Lawrence, Kansas, not massed all at the same time. Some trees go brown without colors in between and others go at so many different times that it's more muted and gradual. Spring makes up for it though with an explosion of flowers.

Hmm... I could do one of the horse ones just with Pan Pastels, use the primaries, black and white starter colors to further test that set. I've been recommending it to friends, with or without an extra green.

10-11-2008, 08:11 AM
... The only suggestion I would make compositionally is the tree behind the round one. I would have moved it over a little to the left or right , or made the foliage fuller and wider,so it did not look as if it was growing out of the top. But overall , superb job!!!

Thanks for all the feedback, Tressa! You are quite right about the far tree, it is in the wrong place-- moving it to the left would make a much better composition.

Robert, I think you're right, the scan did tilt toward the orange-- the sky should be more blue (this is very late in the afternoon) and there should be more blue in the lower part too. I might try a photo later today.

I've decided I like this well enough (IRL) to finish it off and frame for the holiday "small things" show at our local gallery.

These challenges are a great exercise and fun! Like little mini-workshops. What a wonderful idea for exploring and growing.

Dayle Ann

10-11-2008, 10:49 AM
After seeing all of the lovely paintings using the 5 colors I decided to hurry and do mine before I ran out of time. I used primary red, yellow and blue plus white and black...I did not use any of the black though...only the remaining 4. I picked the lemons because they seemed the easiest though I will put this in practice alot more and maybe even do another of these in the challenge.


10-11-2008, 12:12 PM
Wow, Linn, beautiful lemons!

I made a few small changes in my offering, and took a photo by natural light this morning: The color is much better (at least on my monitor and software- hope it comes through here too)!


Dayle Ann

10-11-2008, 01:21 PM
Thanks Dayle!

Yes your image shows up much better now. A lovely view you have. I really like the oranges in your large tree.

10-11-2008, 04:50 PM
Great lemons, Linn! I like the contrast between the lemons and the way you did the cloth, it's very cool. Your plein air does look a lot truer in color even though it's now much more muted. The greens look like the greens I get by mixing, and this is still such a gorgeous view. I keep scrolling back and forth for tweaks, trying to see where they are, but they're not obvious. Maybe color changes are being lost in the change from one type of photo to another.

Mario V
10-11-2008, 05:52 PM
the reference photo is from this month's oil pastel challenge :thumbsup:

I used 3 primaries and green. The fifth color is the color of the velour paper - beige.
size is 9x12"



10-11-2008, 06:33 PM
Wow! This is fun. It is great to see what everyboby comes up with. Thanks for the challenge Tressa. I learned as I went along and the further I got into it, the more comfortable I got.

I really got out of my comfort zone for this challenge. I used pastel pencils. Other than playing around with them a bit, this is my first attempt doing a full painting with them.

This is on 9 x 6 Wallis and I used Prussian Blue, Geranium Lake, Deep Cadmium, Spectrum Blue and Chinese White Derwent pastel penlils.

Thanks for looking.



WC Lee
10-11-2008, 06:34 PM
great stuff everyone :)

tried doing a landscape this time :) didn't come out too well but at least my trees actually looks like trees :D


10-11-2008, 07:45 PM
Very nice pumpkins Mario...very realistic and good colors.

Great job Doug! It was fun wasn't it?

I really like your landscape WC!

10-11-2008, 08:10 PM
Mario, your pumpkins give me such a rich warm feeling -- like sunset at the pumpkin stand, so seasonal, they carry me away into memories and beyond. I love the green in the shadows. It's rich and powerful. Neat that you counted the beige velour paper as your fifth color. I haven't been counting the surface color as anything, just chose one to go with my color choices.

Doug, your lemons are cool. I like the way you shaded so much and the neat shading texture you got on the cloth and around the lemons, it has its own feel. Very cool lemons!

WC, your landscape came out cool in a way that reminds me of winter in this part of Kansas -- when even the evergreens sometimes get a little browned by the aridity and everything is in golden browns. I like the little flowers you put in the meadow too. There are so many variations possible in landscapes and you've done a cool muted-colors one. The muddy water is natural too. I see that all the time in little ponds and ditches.

I want to do something bold and small and easy on this tonight, before plunging back into my big WIPs. I'm still tired from the cleanup, but all of you have inspired me! Maybe I'll just set up a small still life or go through my old photos for something.

10-12-2008, 01:04 AM
I'm posting this in the Weekly Sketch thread too, since I did it in under an hour. About forty minutes, and then ten minutes in Gimp getting the scan to match the art as close as possible. This definitely went through an Ugly Stage at the halfway point. Drawn from life from the mini-pumpkin my daughter gave me to decorate my room for the holidays.

My colors, five Mont Marte soft pastels (the handy set).

My sketch, I cheated a little using the white charcoal pencil for sketching because all the corners on my white stick were worn down. But it's the same color and stays true to the intent of the five color exercise. I guess I could have just put the pencil in the lineup instead of the stick, but I didn't think of it and did use the stick once I got going. Colourfix in a slightly greenish-gray neutral, I messed with this in Gimp till the actual color of the Colourfix showed.

My daily art for the 11th, a mini pumpkin. I'm beginning to see how muted colors make brights go brighter. I hated it midway through, but it started to improve with smudging and layering, and at the end I stopped smudging to have a nice scumble texture especially in the shadows. Sorry about the crumb on the scan, it's not on the art and I did just fix it on the scan too. Glad it didn't stick to the art! That is not a large reddish speck on the right side of the pumpkin, it's just a crumb that was on the scanner and didn't show in the larger scans because I moved the art for them.

It's a Halloween theme with a cat's shadow overlapping the pumpkin, implying a cat coming up to bat it off the table and hide it somewhere weird in the house...

10-12-2008, 08:21 AM
Great colors in your pumpkin Robert!

10-12-2008, 11:19 AM
Mario, beautiful! I love painting squashes. They have everything: color, depth, interesting shape. I can't paint them from pics though, have to have the real thing. Yours are gorgeous.

Robert, I think the diff in detail and color intensity is caused because the overall size is smaller and I used a larger compression ratio. The orange IRL is in between. Thanks for your observations-- I'm learning to pay more attention to that sort of thing in adjusting photos as a result.

Now I'm looking forward to the next challenge!

Dayle Ann

10-12-2008, 11:47 AM
Glad I dropped in this morning, such a colorful feast for the eyes!!
Deborah, Lovely flowers... & in an hr! WOW
Dayle, your plein air is a treat.. I really like the minamalist shapes of it alot! Great job!

Linn, WOW... your lemons POP.. You have really improved alot .. way to go!!

Mario, your pumpkins are awesome..:thumbsup:

Doug, Your lemons turned out really nice.. GLad to see you here:):wave:

WC, Nice debth you achieved & yes, your trees look like trees! Yeh!:))

Robert.. very nice work on the pumpkin, I like that it has a few marks from being out in the elements...

Fall is definately showing up on WC before it is here in west Texas ..I am loviong it.. My fave season!

Now, Tressa, give us a hiint for next challenge???... I vote for this to be weekly:p .... Even though I have the pitcher started & by the looks of it, wont be finished before next fall..:eek:

I am leaving for most of this week... so wont be painting much, if any:crying:
Have a great week all!

10-12-2008, 02:28 PM
Maw-t, you've made the colors look very natural in the landscape. Very nice. The lemons are bold and arresting. And I like the blending through crosshatching in your lemons image on page four.

Lori, I think you've done a fine job simplifying to the most important shapes and values. And FWIW, I wouldn't have had the nerve to try a checkered napkin, so kudos to you for your bravery.

WC, I like both of your images. I honestly can't tell that you used either straight red or blue in either one, but the complimentary color scheme in the end is appealing.

Charlie, nice abstraction of a lemon; it's really all about the color. I do prefer the bold primaries of the second, which is very eye-catching.

Robert, I enjoyed watching your progression. Thanks for the opportunity to see how you went about it. And, nice lemons. :) And I do like the texture on your pumpkin.

Tressa, your colors give me a strong sense of hot, late afternoon light flooding through a window. Very nice.

Debbie, a lovely tranquil scene. Good choice for this challenge.

Terri, terrific Warholesque dog. The light green really pops!

Wonderful flowers Deborah. You inspire me to try soft soft pastels.

Linn, lovely lacquered lemons! They look like candy. Your piece almost looks like a well-done abstraction.

Dayle, your landscape is great. Your simplification and strong use of color work well.

Mario, your pumpkins have a very pleasing design. I suspect that the image is a lot darker on the computer than in IRL.

Doug, nicely done for your first attempt at pencils.

Here's mine. I decided to do a portrait. I went the complete opposite direction from everyone else and tried for subtle instead of bold. In that respect, I twisted the challenge around to force it back into my comfort zone. :o

I used Cretacolor hard pastels in Pompeian Red, Indigo, Ochre, Umber, and Elephant Gray. The support is an unknown pastel paper in a light warm gray (9 1/2 x 12 1/2). I cheated a little and used a pencil the exact same color as the paper to blend. I guess that makes six colors. The reference is from the RIL (http://www.wetcanvas.com/RefLib/showphoto.php?photo=59639), thanks to terence_p.

I'll give this challenge another go with a bolder approach now that I've finished this one.

10-12-2008, 03:47 PM
There are two things this exercise brought home to me most. I had been avoiding making a plein air setup with pastels. Now I realize that only a few sticks are enough to create a finished image, or one that needs only minimal work in the studio to finish.

The other is the reminder that accumulating sticks is really not the point: our pigments are much more versatile than we give them credit for. Technique and vision can make up for not having every color in the spectrum. And may force us to really think creatively! I'm so impressed with all the work that you all are doing-- and surprised at what I came up with!

Great idea, this. I also vote for weekly, with the old threads held so people can learn from and add to them. Maybe not name them "weekly challenges, but name by the kind of challenge?

Dayle Ann

10-12-2008, 04:06 PM

Attempted the challenge - not sure if I have succeeded - but I enjoyed myself anyway. I have enjoyed looking at all the work so far, this is a really interesting challenge.
Snowbound - I agree with you. I have spent so much of my time fretting over what kind of pastels to get, what colours would I need, insteading of actually getting on with it and getting used to the pastels I actually do have.



I have used rembrandt pastels - permanent red deep, yellow ochre, prussian blue plus burnt sienna and burnt umber.


10-12-2008, 06:37 PM
Thanks for cuing me to where the oranges really are, Dayle. I can see it in my mind now and your plein air is gorgeous. I'm also still learning to color correct my scans and it gets very hard. At least with scans vs. photos, the lighting is consistent no matter when I do it, and I know some corrections are always needed -- one click toward green on hue adjustment, and then intensify the colors at least a bit. Sometimes all the way to 100% before they look good. It's weird.

Thanks for all the comments on my pumpkin! I turned it with the two greenish little discolorations facing me because they were more interesting than its "good side." I was mildly annoyed the red and blue didn't go dark enough for me to give more value contrasts, but next time I'll either choose a darker blue or leave off the orange and mix it. I'm thinking of doing one with a very dark green that's in my Mont Marte set instead of black.

Semele, your subtle combinations are gorgeous! I didn't see anything in the instructions that said you couldn't use muted earth tones for primaries. I've done that in other mediums, colored pencils and watercolor especially. The result is stunning in that portrait. I'm surprised you didn't use a white, but matching the paper color gives it a softer look and you used the elephant gray to great effect.

Pam, your landscape works well. You chose muted colors too, and that gives your drawing a soft interesting look. The paper texture is coming through very strong, and I like the way your crosshatching in the sky interacts with that, you found ways to make it work for you. Unless your scan is way off, I think you used the white of the paper with your palette to give you strong lights, and that's very cool.

10-12-2008, 08:37 PM
I have been unavailable for most of the day, and will comment on each post tomorrow, but rest assured,/i read everyone very cafefully, ansdsome great statements, quotes, and paintings done by all. ll be back in the am to commment , but great job by all!

10-12-2008, 09:20 PM
Semele...beautiful portrait!

Pam...nice landscape!

10-12-2008, 10:41 PM
I can't stop fooling with this challenge! I scanned my sticks again before doing the black cat from the Halloween Riot -- and then remembered I meant to use the white charcoal pencil instead of the black stick, so I put the black stick away.


Tonight, I actually broke sticks in half on purpose instead of cringing and feeling awful if one of them broke. The yellow broke by itself. The others were deliberate breakage by me. The white stick in this scan wasn't used.


My initial sketch with a General's white charcoal pencil. I am coming to love this pencil for its texture, its strength, its mixing and covering ability. It makes sketching on dark colors so much easier, or sketching on any color if it's under a light color.


First, I did the eyes, going over them with five or six layers of mostly blue and yellow and white, with a little red to create the neutral shadow color. I tightened and brightened the eye again in the final stage but had it pretty close to done here. I blocked in the fur highlights in strong purplish blue, and put some clean red inside the cat's ears but rubbed it in to darken it.


I refined everything in the last stage and blended white into the blue highlights, then lightly put individual white strokes and added whiskers and strong highlights and refined the eye. I sprayed several light coats of fixative and the darker blended blues vanished, so I put some more in and then added back the highlights that had faded. I refined the eye one last time and brightened the highlight in the center, reduced the size of the pupil very carefully with yellow and white, and signed it with my monogram initials.

Black Cat at Night is 2 1/2" x 3 1/2" on black Colourfix sanded paper with red, lemon yellow, bright purplish blue and black Mont Marte soft pastels and a white General's charcoal pencil.

I love this challenge. It's driving me nuts with ideas! I wasn't up to tackling horses yet, but the cat was a good small piece for tonight being pretty much a sick night.

Deborah Secor
10-13-2008, 08:27 AM
Weekly would be great, I agree, but I also know that it's a lot to try and do! But if people want to volunteer to come up with challenges and mind the store here, I bet the mods and guides might be very amenable... :D

I say this because I was a guide here for a number of years (which some may not know) and there's more behind-the-scenes going on than you imagine. It takes a tremendous amount of personal time to keep this forum running well, to have all the interesting threads such as this one, and deal with all the housekeeping and various needs of the participants. These gals are hardworking and doing a GREAT job! And I agree it's terrific to have this ongoing challenge.

Meanwhile, thanks Tress... :wave:


Kathryn Wilson
10-13-2008, 08:40 AM
We'd love for the Challenges to be more often, but we Mods and Guides do need to have lives! Right now, all we can manage are Bi-Monthly Challenges and this really is Tressa's baby.

We have some exciting Classrooms coming up that should keep everyone busy.

10-13-2008, 09:10 AM
bchlvr - thanks.
robert - thanks for your comments. I used a piece of sand coloured 'Daler Rowney' ingres paper. I don't really like the texture of this paper, I much prefer the smooth side of canson paper, but I am trying to use up old paper whilst I learn. BTW, my scanning abilities are atrocious as well as my photography skills (need to add those to my list of things to learn).


10-13-2008, 02:15 PM
I did these studies last week based on the style of my new pastel teacher. (See my blog for an entry about her and examples.)

This is three browns and a white with hard Van Goghs.

This is three blues and a white - Rembrandts.

Here are two with pink, blue, green, medium brown, and dark brown, plus white, so technically six pastels - Rembrandt.


Next time I won't "cheat" and have the exercise done when I read about it!

Deborah Secor
10-13-2008, 02:26 PM
Oooo, I like the last foot and the hand, Bonnie! Nice skin tones you have going there! We really can do a lot with few pastels, can't we? :D


10-13-2008, 02:39 PM
Saying "Limited Palette" sounds so fancy, doesn't it?

10-13-2008, 02:46 PM
Your studies are beautiful! I like the hand so much. The lines around it are cool, it's got a feeling like something I just can't place that I like very much. All of these anatomical studies are elegant, and I can just see a nude in that style would be wonderful.

10-13-2008, 02:54 PM
Thank you, Robert. The word dynamic comes to mind with how they represent movement. In fact, the instructor insists that when a model breaks and repositions, the little changes in position are actually beneficial.

Realized I forgot my first one from class - 3 browns, white, all Van Gogh.

10-13-2008, 06:32 PM
Potoma, I like the pink/blue/green studies very much. Those really are intriguing skin tones.

FWIW, I'm happy with the bi-weekly approach. I feel like more often would be too much, and I know from experience that when I feel "behind" or rushed for time in something I tend not to work on it at all; I don't want that to happen here. I think that if the challenges are as interesting as this one then any of us who are motivated to power through and get it done quickly can do more of the same -- maybe stick with the theme but try different subjects, as some have already done here, instead of just waiting for the next challenge to roll around -- while slower or busier people have time to work at their leisure without feeling rushed. Good grief, I thought that sentence would never end.

In closing :) it's still early to make a judgment, but I like it as it is.

10-13-2008, 10:00 PM
Yeah, two weeks lets me explore and try it in different ways as with the different limited palettes. I still need to do one in Pan Pastels.

george c martins
10-14-2008, 12:12 PM
Hi Tress

I find these Pastel challenge greats...unfortunatlly this bi-week I haven't lot of time to participate, because I'm doing this huge pastel (150cmx100cm)paint to a contest....its keeping my time full...but I'll be glad to accept another comming challenge..


10-14-2008, 02:59 PM
Good point on bi-weekly, both mods and participants. You've convinced me. I think once I get settled back in my art routine, biweekly will feel right. I just got kinda excited, because I love challenges that stretch me!

Patoma, love the skin tones on your pink, blue, green studies too, and the sense of life from the technique. It's interesting: I noted that Mary Cassatte used a blue undertone for many (if not most) of her portraits, which showed through her blending over. Somehow it gave a very lifelike feel to the skin. That was an interesting revelation.

Dayle Ann

10-14-2008, 03:50 PM
Such wonderful sketches and paintings, all! Am too behind to comment to everyone, but I've watched in awe.

W.C. -- you get a special comment. :-) I'm looking at your landscape, and I see that it is fine indeed. Something has happened in the way you see and render a landscape, with this one. This is a notch above, really, it is! Yeah, there are 'things', but who cares? Just do them, and don't be shy.

Bi-weekly. I'm happy with getting the chance to try several things within the same challenge. And as I often participate in the WDE, and the Strokes, and the Riot, and do my own experiments and also want to produce a full painting now and then, well, a forthnight for this challenge is great! I think Tressa needs a pace that works for her. But there are oodles of challenges all over the fourms -- Scavenger Hunt, Daily sketch, Landscape monthly, etc, so those of us who want weekly or daily challenges can have them. Yes, I know, the pastel forum is *the* best, but the others are really great too!

I've been moderator/owner of a non-artistic forum, and I know how much behind-the-scenes work there is, so I offer a toast for our hardworking moderators and guides!


10-14-2008, 04:36 PM
:clap: Tressa, the bi-weekly challenge rocks and I would love to see it continue. More frequently and I might be a bit more hard pressed to participate. My current priority is to create some more work for a local arts & crafts sale next month. I've enjoyed seeing how everyone has tackled the challenge.

Winny Kerr
10-14-2008, 07:26 PM
I love the weekly challenge but due to being a working lady cannot always participate, sadly :( . But I do think the new bi-weekly challenge with Tressa is extremely worthwhile as that really makes me think about what I'm doing. And color value studies and blending are so valuable and something I desperately need to learn. I could not cope with that if it were not bi-weekly. I've certainly become a lot more active since participating in these challenges but it all takes time. Like Deborah said, us ladies work 24/7 :lol:
Tressa, I love this 5 only stick challenge and I have started and hope to finish by the end of this week. Sorry Doug, I am not able to join you this time although the trees or clouds do sound enticing. Thank you all for so much hard work. :clap: Winny

10-14-2008, 08:48 PM
I chose a different primary palette this time, combined with White and Black in Cretacolor Pastel Pencils. My colors are:

Zinc White
Ivory (pale yellow)
English red
Payne's Grey (muted dark blue)
Ivory Black

My reference is from the Halloween Riot references. "Moonlit" is 2 1/2" x 3 1/2" on dark blue Canson mi-Tientes, very close to the color of the Paynes Grey but I wanted the white to blend, so I went over the whole surface with Payne's Grey except the moon, so that the white for the thinned clouds would blend with the Payne's Grey. It gave it a touch more color too. Ivory made better highlights on the underlit tree than just the white would've done, it was perfect for that.


10-14-2008, 08:58 PM
It's okay Winny, you know where to find us next week.:D

I think the bi-weekly format works great. Some people might need the two weeks to fit in the time to do the challenge while others can do the challenge two or more times. One thing this thread was meant to do is get you out of your comfort zone, and what better way is there,than to do the challenge two or three times.

It's great to see so many people taking up the challenge. Thanks for opening my eyes to new things Tressa. I look forward to the next challenge.


10-15-2008, 07:50 AM
I am glad you guys like the bi-weekly idea, and as Kat says, we have other stuff going on in our lives. I had minor surgery on my leg yesterday(nothing serious), but am a bit under the weather. I will be back in to comment on all your hard work, and get ready for a brand new challenge on Oct 20!!!
Cheers to all who have made this challenge so much fun!

CM Neidhofer
10-16-2008, 04:06 PM
Here's my attempt. I found this very hard to do! I know I would change my choice of colors next time also. I should've gone with a warmer yellow. I thought it was a medium yellow until I started using it and it was just too light. I used a Rembrandt red and yellow, a Sennelier dark blue, along with two Terry Ludwig's....that wonderful eggplant dark and a yellowish light from his lights set. Not one of my better pieces, but definitely a learning experience. Thanks Tress!


It's not quite this bright IRL!! Here are the pastels I used:


Completed on a piece of Canson smooth side.


WC Lee
10-16-2008, 04:49 PM
doing great everyone :)

I like the image ref I used on my last one that I did it again :D but this time using pure colors of green, blue, red, lemon yellow and white. It was done on a 2.5 x 3 inch piece of wallis.


and an 2.5x enlargement


10-17-2008, 12:48 AM
Christine, your lemons look so lush and color-rich. If this isn't your best, your best has to be out of this world. It's beautiful.

WC, your little landscape is delightful! I love the detail you achieved and I'm so familiar with working that size. I can appreciate the work that went into balancing it this perfectly. The red in the shadows is great!

I guess I have four more days... I still wanted to try one with my Pan Pastels and will have to decide on the subject. Maybe a larger Lemons one...

10-17-2008, 04:35 PM
This is my second try at the lemon reference using the same palette as my first attempt. I took my time this time around, and layered in the color, and simplified the towel. Still not up to the quality of the other posters to this thread, but better than my first try. (I am totally amazed at those of you doing landscapes with only five sticks.:thumbsup: )



10-17-2008, 05:36 PM
Hi. This is the first bi-weekly challenge I've tried, and I enjoyed it. I tried to do some blending to see if I could get some oranges, greens, from the primaries I chose. I had a little success I guess.
I've really enjoyed seeing others' entries. This was fun. I'll do more.

10-18-2008, 01:15 AM
Great work everyone! just got in from a short trip...want to say this Bi-weekly is good for me too.. I agree, some may not have time weekly, & also, I realize the mods have a life beyond WC & appreciate all the great work & time put into to make this place ROCK!..Hope you're up & going 100% soon Tressa:)

10-18-2008, 02:20 AM
Lori, this version of your lemons is elegant. I like the way you show the planes on them, like your strokes and the overall texture. Simplifying the cloth helped on this one. It's distinctive and interesting.

eglider, your grape vine is wonderful. You've brought back some happy memories for me with those black grapes, and you did succeed in getting some greens and oranges and rich red-violets into your painting. Very cool. Very unified by the muted strong deep colors you chose and the way they blend so well. I love seeing the differences between everyone's chosen triads.

I may have to do Lemons one more time before this is over... don't have that long before it ends, but maybe I'll do it tomorrow.

10-18-2008, 08:54 AM
I'm back and feeling much better! Had surgery on my leg for veins, and is much better, that's what happens after children, guys!lol!!!
I have read thru the thread and you guys have really done a great job on this challenge! I am working on next weeks today, and hope you will enjoy it as much!
The lemons seem to be the most popular along with people using hteir own references! Every one handled the cloth very well, and the limited palette was a good way to learn how to use your sticks whether you have many or few!
Pastel pencils were used great also.
Some beautiful landscapes done, luscious fall grapes, and halloween pumpkins and cats!
"You guys all rock!!!!

Winny Kerr
10-18-2008, 06:12 PM
Glad you are back Tressa and hope you are feeling o.k? :wave:
This 5 stick challenge was sure an interesting one and I've never had to think so hard and try out the blending of these 5 colors to make something work...Phew. But it was good Besides the red, yellow and blue I had a very pale pink and a dark brown. I got the idea from a Elisabeth Mowry book that I have so not my originality. But at least I made it only just in time:D
Here is my sketch;
next my block in;
then the final painting;
and my colors;
I doubt I'll keep the painting, its not very exciting. But it was fun and looking forward to the next challenge. Thanks so much for doing this Tressa:clap: . Winny

10-18-2008, 06:25 PM
Hi winny! I think it is great and I love EM! I would keep it at least for reference, and to remind yourself to try this again in the future!
I like the landscape and the colors you chose, and even if is not your own a great way to try an artist out you admire!

10-18-2008, 06:42 PM
Winny, I think it came out great, even if it wasn't your own. Thanks for showing the stages you did.

Tressa, I'm so happy you are recovering! I've had surgery and it's no fun.

Winny Kerr
10-18-2008, 06:50 PM
Thank you Tressa and Robert.
I made up the composition on my own, and did not copy Elisabeth Mowry's painting and mine is quite different. But I used her color idea. Does that still count as it sorta being my own? hahahaha :wave: Winny

10-18-2008, 07:55 PM
Well, yes it does! I don't think borrowing someone else's palette is enough to make it copying. The palette I used for my first one is so obvious it got recommended on about 20 different watercolor sites -- Lemon Yellow, Ultramarine and a true red or a rose. It counts as your own. Please don't tank this lovely painting now that I know it's yours!

Winny Kerr
10-18-2008, 10:48 PM
Thank you Robert.... I appreciate that. I do not like to copy and only look at people's color use and sometimes use that idea. This was a fun excercise.

10-19-2008, 06:13 PM
This has been a great exercise and I will go back to it from time to time. It has been neat seeing what everybody has created and a an eye opener to what can be done with a few colours.

This is my second second attempt with pastel pencils. My five Derwent colours were Prussian Blue, Crimson Lake, Zinc Yellow, Burnt Carmine and Chinese White and it is on 9 x 6 white Wallis. The photo reference is from the IRL.

Thanks for the challenge Tressa. I look forward to tomorrow's.



10-19-2008, 06:17 PM
Great colors Doug, and I like the texture you got with the pencils!
The golden delish apple really sets the reds off, along with the color you got on the table surface.

Winny Kerr
10-19-2008, 07:30 PM
I am waiting with abated breath for the next challenge, Tressa, I guess we have to wait for tomorrow :lol: . I learned a lot with this one. If I had to do it again I probably would have choosen something else and different colors. It was a great learning curve. Winny

10-19-2008, 07:36 PM
Great Winny! Hope you have fun with the next one!

10-20-2008, 03:03 AM
Doug, those fruit are yummy! I love the texture you're getting with the pastel pencils, and that is a gorgeous subtle green on the Golden Delicious one. I'm not sure I'd have dared try with a greenish blue like Prussian Blue, but you got glorious mixes. The red apple with its oranges is vibrant and I like the streaking, it's so natural. Good grayed planks texture too! Great darks!

I'm a little sad to see this one end without my having time to do another one, but I may still do some limited palette paintings in future now that I've done this. It really stretched my mixing and was a great experience.

Can't wait for tomorrow's new challenge to start too. Thanks for doing this, Tressa!

10-20-2008, 06:04 AM
Great apples Doug!! They look very yummy!

10-20-2008, 06:26 AM
This thread will be unstickied, but will remain in Pastel Talk for a bit, so anyone can get any more paintings they like in! So, don't worry if you want to do more! And please continue to try these challenges on your own even after the threads are closed!

10-21-2008, 12:33 PM
Whoops. I posted here by mistake. Meant to post in the one for Oct. 20.