View Full Version : Pastel Strokes - September 2009

09-02-2009, 09:58 PM
Welcome to the September Pastel Strokes!

Those who have participated in previous months already know the guidelines. For all newbies to this monthly challenge, they are as follows:

* An individual volunteering to host the monthly project proposes to a guide or a moderator a new photo reference near the beginning of the month.

* The guide or moderator approves the host and reference photo(s) and the selected host posts the project in Pastel Talk and also a thread in the Soft Pastel Studio with a link to the Pastel Talk project.

* Interested participants create a painting from the photo(s) and upload it to this thread for viewing and discussion.

* The image may be cropped, rearranged, and interpreted in any manner! Use different effects in your software program and try painting something different, tweak the color, add or subtract things.

* You may paint as many versions and as many photos as you like, and they may be any size.

I hope you are pleased with the photos - these were taken from one of the paintout spots at a nice farmlike area in Kansas during the Albert Handell and Anita Louise West workshop here in the Kansas City area in 2007. I tried to select photos that you might crop to find a little jewel area to paint. Have fun!




09-02-2009, 10:17 PM
Thanks, Paula. Very interesting photos.

Winny Kerr
09-02-2009, 10:56 PM
Love those photo's and thank you for hosting, hope to get time to do at least one of that. Winny

09-03-2009, 05:52 AM
Love the photos! Plan to do 2 of them if not all 3.:)

CM Neidhofer
09-03-2009, 10:42 AM
Thanks for hosting, Paula! I hope I'll have time this month to actually work on something.


09-04-2009, 12:12 AM
Hi Paula, these are great, kink of feel like i'm over in the LS Challenge, and Paula has posted her greens again. you both even have the same first name. WOW! I sure will have to try at least one.

09-09-2009, 06:57 PM
I must warn the experienced pastelists that the following isn't the greatest. :o This is my first "real" attempt and it definately has issues. So have fun with the critiques as I definately can handle them. :) For most areas I used my Pan Pastel painting set (20) and then some Faber Castells, a few Rembrandts, and some other cheapies. I cropped the 2nd photo to try to make it a bit managable and it looked fine. But as you will see the 2 trees definately need help. I think by cropping I made 2 very strange trees. I have had this sitting on my easel for 2 days looking at them and have come up with a few possibities so I thought I would post for your look sees and recommendations. I was also hoping that someone else would post their version so I could see their take. My ideas are: 1. "paint" in the tops a great deal more to make them a bit thicker like the bottom sections, or 2. paint trunks behind the 2 existing and make the tops into 2 trees towering in the background, or 3. say the heck with them and leave them as is; or 4. scrap the whole thing and "chalk" it up to experience. Your advise will certainly help this odd piece. :lol: Thanks!!!


09-10-2009, 10:12 PM
Your advise will certainly help this odd piece. Thanks!!!

I'm no tree expert, but you should continue working with it. You only need to give the leaf areas more substance. In doing this, simplification and designing the shapes is important. You might even try a simple black and white pencil in your sketchbook to make those decisions. Here are clips of the trees from #2 and the same using a photoshop blur to eliminate detail. See the big shapes? The pastel will, of course, will have softer edges here and there:


(The great thing, is that there is no real right or wrong, and being too literal is not as good as your own designs.)

09-11-2009, 02:37 PM
Did one! :eek:


9"x12", Canson Blue Mi-Tientes.

Paula, thanks for the photos! :thumbsup:

Donna T
09-11-2009, 06:11 PM
Dee, that's really quite good for your first 'real' attempt! You definitely have a good start on those trees - keep going! Ken has some good ideas and I'll add that I squint to see the big masses. ;)

Jenny, Beautiful!!! I love the colors and the softness of the whole piece. It's wonderful how you kept the foreground a little darker and quieter and let the color of the paper work for you.


09-11-2009, 10:28 PM
Thanks so much, Donna! This is one that came out to be pretty much what I had in mind (though happy accidents do happen). At least my trees are improving, and I was able to skim on color of pastel over another.

09-12-2009, 05:36 AM
Dee...you did very well on your first real attempt...your colors are great!

Jenny...you achieved depth and light...great job!

Tracy Lang
09-14-2009, 12:12 AM
Thank you, Paula for the great photos! I especially love that they were taken at a Handell/West workshop. They have the ability to make any scene sing.

I am totally landscape challenged and far from my comfort zone...
I really encourage hard C & C...I know that I've messed up parts...and the painting is no where near what was in my head (glorious landscape...), but there are parts that I like. I want to become a better landscape painter!!!
Adding that this is on 12 X 16 PastelMat...various sticks and pans.
Thanks much! Tracy


09-14-2009, 02:22 AM
Tracy, love the colors and the lightness of your scene.

09-14-2009, 06:16 AM
Love the colors Tracy!

Donna T
09-14-2009, 08:32 AM
Tracy, you are not landscape challenged at all! It's good that you see glorious landscapes in your head - I do too - and trying to make those scenes come to life is a continual challenge for me as well. I think this is a difficult photo to work from because the lighting appears to be overcast and the forms of the trees are not well defined. I like that you have brightened it up considerably and used your artistic license to add sunshine. I have a few ideas but they are just my personal preference. I would consider toning down the highlights on the smaller tree on the left, even though they appear bright in the photo. I think the brighter leaves on the main trees should be the attention getters. I like that you have softened the edges on the distant hill but be careful that all of your edges are not the same. Maybe a few harder, more defined edges on the main tree or even a section of those sunlit areas? I love your colorful grasses in the foreground - they add so much! Please feel free to ignore my ideas - we all have our own visions of the scene in front of us and yours is just fine the way it is!


Shirl Parker
09-14-2009, 09:09 AM
Wonderful, Tracy.

09-14-2009, 09:26 PM
Jenny and Tracy, Your pastels are wonderful. I am almost embarassed to post my updated version. :o But everyone's C&C's are very helpful and greatly appreciated.

I appreciate everyone's advice, especially the blurring and squinting tips. I literally chopped down one of the trees, "fluffed" up the remaining one, and added some details. I did get the photo more straight but taking it inside resulted in the flash washing out the color so I corrected the color and it's now fairly close to the original. I did learn a lot...you can't layer much and yet there are times there's not enough and I have to resist blending too much especially initially. So once again, please give any C&C. Thanks!!


09-14-2009, 09:39 PM
Dee, much better. In fact, excellent.

Your background is very good, and the tree stands out well.

I always want to do cartoon trees (balloon shapes) that are slightly darker on the bottom than the top, and my simple brain fights me when I stray toward something more realistic. It just takes time and practice.

09-15-2009, 12:56 AM
Hi Dee, nice first attempt, if you keep at least three values in your trees that will give you more depth in them. we all had to start some where one time or another. keep it up you will do fine. your second one is alot better, nice work.

Hi Jenny, I like this very much, you have great depth in this. how are you liken the canson? I bought me 10 sheets champagne. i tried it with out my normal sanding it on the smooth side it worked very well but i'm still going to sand it anyway like it a lot better that way.

Hi Tracy, love your colours in this. the flowers in the field are a nice touch.

09-15-2009, 01:06 AM
Ok here is my version of the field with the fence. it's on watercolour paper tinted tan gesso/pumice 9/12. first time i didn't use Fabriano or canson in the past close to 6 weeks. but on a pure landscape i do like the sanded (pumice) textured paper. well here it is. C&C always welcome.


09-15-2009, 08:39 AM
Pete, yours is great. Lots of nice things going on.

I like the Canson paper, though I prefer the white. The colored papers distract me, but I keep trying them. There are plenty of professional artists who do beautiful work on Canson, so I'll keep practicing on the Canson. I tried Colorfix once and loved it. I need to work on my basic skills and use of color, and the Canson is perfect for me now. As I go along, I'll use more Colorfix and try other surfaces.

I haven't tried sanding the smooth side of the Canson yet. I'm getting better about not loading the paper too much or too quickly, and sanding might let me get away with more before I'm ready to use it wisely.

Donna T
09-15-2009, 08:51 AM
Nice changes to the tree Dee! It seems to have more substance now, much more volume. I'm glad you left the background alone - I really like how well it compliments the tree.

Pete, that's really nice! I like how you manipulated the light so that those distant trees are lit up. This looks like one of those days when the clouds put shadows over parts of the landscape while other areas get the full effect of the sun - and it all keeps changing. What kind of watercolor paper are you using - cold press or hot press?


09-15-2009, 10:39 AM
Hi Jenny, thank you so much. I fine when i sand the smooth side of paper it reduces the grain a little and the pastels stick alot better. filling in the grain better and yet it gives you a few more layers you can work with. at least i think so.

Hi Donna, Thank you also. the paper is ????? it's Canson that comes in a 10 sheet pad that Michels sells on sale from time to times for a $1.00 to $1.50 normaly 3.00 a pad i do know it's 120# . it's pretty ruff but not as bad as some others. i use the smooth side. i tried some paper cold press i got on line and wow it was really ruff. I really don't know much about watercolour paper just learning but do like my cheapie Canson for now at least. stores don't have much of choice around here. and online you don't get to see or feel it before you get to buy it. if you know what i mean and they just don't want to sell you one sheet to try. so when i find something i like i keep useing it. thanks again

09-15-2009, 05:47 PM
Thanks Jenny, Pete, and Donna for the encouraging words.

Pete ~~~ Your version turned out quite well too. Like the touches of violet. In looking at the various posts on the pastel forums I also have noticed that those that are bit more "daring" with using color which may not necessarily be seen in the reference photos when they are also posted actually create much more interesting pieces. I know as I become more comfortable with pastels and what their limits are I won't be so concerned about getting around something that I believe will "ruin" the end result. With oils and acrylics for the most part I can work around an odd brush stroke, etc. Enjoying the experience!!!

09-16-2009, 08:22 PM
well all here is another one did last night. I done a little crop and changed it a little. I think it worked out a little better. the large tree mass isn't that dark but this pic made it look darker. got my Hand Made Richeson, is this a joke they are made in China? not real happy about that. and tried it in the sky only. not sure how i like them. 9/12 on Fabriano honey sanded. C&C Please. thank you.
WOW What a difference from my lap top to this computer this is dark dark and orange. let me know what you see maybe i could get a lighter pic. it looks real good on my lap top. just a little dark in the tree. all the reat looks spot on. not on this one tho.


Donna T
09-16-2009, 09:48 PM
This looks beautiful to me Pete! You sure got creative with cropping and rearranging. I love the light on the field - just gorgeous. Thanks for mentioning the Richeson pastels. I had no idea they would be made in China.


09-16-2009, 10:34 PM
Pete, this one is really nice, though I like the first one too.

09-16-2009, 11:07 PM
Hi Donna, thaky you . your monitor must work like my lap top. I thought if i moved some of the elements it would make for a better comp. Donna I had no idea they were either. what a suprise i had when i got them. I thought England like Unison or even the US being there are up north in i think WI. never did i think of China.

Jenny, thank you. I'm glad you like them both. thanks again.

Kathryn Wilson
09-17-2009, 07:17 AM
Wow, some great work going on in here! Glad to see you all are making great use of these photos - do more than one!

09-18-2009, 11:38 PM
Love the work going on!
Pete I started to suspect the Richeson pastels were made in China just the other day. It just came to me. We haven't been able to really see any info about them. I have a small medium hard portrait set. I didn't know for sure they were from China, but the price made me wonder. Plus they match some that are sold in Europe and I think they mentioned that they were made in China over there. Well, I will have to figure out if I will use them or not. I don't normally do portraits, so they won't see a lot of use anyway. Did you get the big soft, handmade ones? Sorry you're disappointed. I think they should be more honest about this in the first place so we can make informed choices.


09-19-2009, 12:21 AM
Hi Sara, you know if they told you where they were made i still may have bought them but i would have looked into what they were made out of. With all the recalls that they keep finging. what is in them, is there lead what chemicals are actualy being use? are the harmfull to us. thay say no. but do we really know. we handle them because they are to be safe but are they for sure with out any reason of a douth? and they are not cheep. years ago i worked fo a Co. they mad a product that cost them $2.50 to make they started buying for China. the product cost and the overseas shipping, the shipping here wharehousing, the price for it to be unloaded and put on pallets and so on and so on. it cost them less than $1.00 for that same kind of product. this product is sold now (and they have the patten on it) all over the world to who knows how many different food chains they all have to use it for health reason and the sure use a lot of them. did they bring down there price? no.. so why didn't they tell you where it's from and sell it cheeper. like Mungyo.which is made in Korea it's a quite fine product. not the best but still a good one. why do they hide it? Oh and yes i did get the hand made ones.

Vivien Maloney
09-25-2009, 06:51 PM
This is my attempt at the landscape - painted from the 3rd photo, top right-hand corner.
I'm not that happy with it; feel that I could have pushed the color a bit more in the foreground? What do you think? C & C appreciated.

Oh sorry, 12 x 8in, Canson Paper, variety of pastels.
Thanks for looking.

09-25-2009, 07:44 PM
Beautiful, Viv. You captured the softness of the scene.

Donna T
09-25-2009, 08:06 PM
I agree - beautiful! It sure looks like an overcast day and the depth in your trees is amazing!


09-25-2009, 08:49 PM
I really like your technique and as the softness is perfect for this scene. Great job!

Vivien Maloney
09-26-2009, 02:39 PM
Thanks everyone for your positive comments.

Pete; I've never tried sanding the "Canson" paper, and think I'll give this a go as it sounds a great idea.

09-26-2009, 08:43 PM
Hi Viv. this looks great. i really like it. If you do try make sure you sand it in different directions H all of it and V all of it. just don't do a little here in one directio and than a little in a different direction. do the whole side in one than turn it and do the other direction. I would do it out side and on a hard surfice. it does make a mess.

09-29-2009, 06:03 PM
This is only to let Paula know I tried one more of her photos. Kinda' static. Though it is hard to see in this photo of my painting, the trees aren't too bad.


8"x10", Flannel Gray Canson Mi-Tientes.

Donna T
09-30-2009, 08:14 PM
Nice one Jenny! Not only are the trees 'not too bad' they are looking real good!

09-30-2009, 10:32 PM
Jenny I think your trees came out very good. i sure do like them. nice job.