View Full Version : December 2009 Pastel Strokes!

12-01-2009, 12:57 PM
Welcome to the December 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.

Now here's the December challenge for this Pastel Strokes:

Change The Light!

Below are five of my own photos and a really great one from the RIL for those of you who'd like a holiday subject. Two cats because I'm a cat nut, an Arkansas landscape, a still life with art supplies, one with fruit, and a third with holiday ornaments. You'll notice some of these are dark or overexposed, but still interesting.

The challenge here is to change the color intensity or lighting. Render it warmer or colder, change the direction of the light, push it up to full colourist brilliance or gently mute it down to a nostalgic vintage look. Don't just follow the colors in the references as they are. Bounce off of it and visualize the scene in different light, or use different colors to find out what that different light looks like in your painting!

We're not painting the things that are there, we're painting the light that falls on them. So these are a starting point for the light that's in your mind's eye, I won't see your light until you paint it!

I'm making a few verbal notes on what I saw when taking the photo on mine, if you want to have a go at correcting the photo colors by imagination.

Please do consider all five of mine contributed as if to the RIL, use them freely after the challenge is over and just credit me when you post your art. Also please let me know you used it so I can come enjoy your paintings!

Mt. Petit Jean Outcrop by robertsloan2 (larger version exists, message me with your email)
This was brighter and greener in life, taken during the summer. Sky was a cool green-leaning blue very brilliant, not the warm purple-blue of a Northern sky. Middle to greenish, greener toward horizon.

Miss Gemini by robertsloan2
Miss Gemini is in daylight-corrected light, her dark bits do go all the way to black, her orangy bits are brighter and go up to a pale gold with some white hairs, her eyes are very green.

Ari Eye to Eye by robertsloan2
Ari's mid-tones to light hairs are a cool brown, warmer than the gray they look here. His eyes are silvery blue, a little less blue than shown but not much, mid to purplish light blue. The highlights on his black nose are definitely blued, a little more than in the photo actually, there's a distinct cool highlights on black to warm highlights on dark brown shift and the lighter his fur is, the warmer it gets till it's a soft light cream. This cat has every hue and value of brown and beige that I've got in all my pastel sets, he has very subtle fur coloration. His whiskers are bright white. He was in daylight-corrected artificial light.

Cherries, Nectarine, Strawberries Still Life 2 by robertsloan2
The colors in this are corrected close to the true color, but the deep red velvet backdrop was a richer and bluer red, very strong blue-cast red. Values are accurate. The nectarine is a lot brighter and the photo washes it out. The cherries and strawberries are close but still a bit washed out. Larger version of this one available if you message me your email.

Pan Pastel Deep Darks Five Open by robertsloan2
Colors are richer and more intense in life. If you actually have the five Deep Darks pans you could look at them in life to match it, but part of why I put this in was the highlights on the plastic and the backdrop postcard with all its bright colors. The photo is muted and dimmed but the highlights are in the right place -- unless you decide to change the direction of the light. In this one it's so distinct that I could pretty easily.

Have fun, maybe change what colors of Pans are sitting out to go with colors you have or colors you wish they made! Yours doesn't have to be the Deep Darks -- this image gives you flat areas of five specific colors to make your own great harmony. You could do them all as greens or all as warms or anything you like, enjoy!

Christmas Ornaments 2 by Trudance from the RIL.
http://www.wetcanvas.com/RefLib/showphoto.php?photo=82253 is the link to the RIL where you can grab the larger version -- it's huge! I loved the colors and composition of this one, either simplify it a bit or go crazy doing shiny glass and lace textures. I have an idea this is probably truer in color than mine are, but that opens up the possibility of doing a sentimental soft muted version or jazzing it up crazier with wild Colourist intensity. Have fun!

I will be around all month cheering everyone on and trying different things with these photos, some of them going by what I remember and others doing imaginary lighting effects. I might try visualizing one of these in a strong colored light, like holiday lighting -- if all the blue lights flash at once on the tree next to the subject. Could you put an imaginary Christmas tree next to Miss Gemini or Ari? How would that change how they look?

Enjoy! I can't wait to see what everyone does with this challenge!

12-01-2009, 01:53 PM
Nice pic's Robert, I thin i could do the landscape. but would like to try the fruit. not sure if i could do it but sure would give it a try. I'm woundering if it's ok to mention the Landscape Challenge here which I hosting there?

12-01-2009, 07:11 PM
Robert, thank you for hosting the Dec. Pastel Strokes, beautiful pictures. I'm inclined to do the Landscape.


12-02-2009, 09:49 PM
Thank you! Looking forward to seeing it, Jose!

Pete, sure, go ahead and link to it. I'm curious now, love landscapes, may wander over there.

I'm thinking of doing the landscape first too, trying it in Pans on PastelMat and changing the time of day. Which may create visual fiction since I think it was close to noon when I was out there, shadows real small and I don't have a clear directional memory of which way they pointed. So I might misplace the sun on the horizon and direction of light in relation to the real place but still get a good painting.

I think that's fair for the challenge though. It isn't like this is the postcard for the park, it's a painting. If it looks better moving the entire sun and reorienting a huge mountain -- then it does! Right! It's my painting, I can put the mountain where I want it.

12-04-2009, 07:07 PM
The pretty sky that I put in for dawn around the Mt. Petit Jean Outcrop. I cropped the reference vertical so that I'd get the outcrop and that big warm green tree, but those aren't in yet. In this kind of light I'll get strong color on the greens but they will show up actually green with this much of the morning up, yet maybe some gilding on the leftmost edges of the highlights.

I did the sky first so that I'd know what light I was making up, now I'm off to combine my memories into something interesting. I hope it comes out as a good painting and I sure hope the sun rises on the left at that spot because the photo was taken more like midday and I could not remember which way was east or west. lol

So anyone who lives around here, if you tell me this is a mountain in an alternate universe... well, it is!

Dawn at Outcrop on Mt. Petit Jean Progress Scan 1
Pan Pastels in spectrum tints and a little Ultramarine at the upper right, plus a little Paynes Gray Tint in the violet on the cloud but that was too much so I went over it again with Violet Tint and Violet.
It's on white PastelMat, the small pad size. The areas that look white on the scan don't look white in the painting, but I may need to add more color there given what the scan did to it.

The colors are as close to true as I could get the awful scan that made all the tints look like pure color by adjusting the scan in Gimp. I think I'll need to use photos of this painting if that problem continues after I get the mid tones and darks in. Everything in the sky is close to the same value so that it'll push back once I get the middle ground and foreground done.

Please feel free to comment and critique! Or to post progress shots and scans of your Pastel Strokes pieces before they're done. I meant to just block in broad areas of color but got distracted by how pretty the sky was turning and got the sky to a semi-finished stage all by itself, that may take some adjusting once I get the rocks and trees in.

12-04-2009, 08:14 PM
Dawn over Outcrop on Mt. Petit Jean Progress 2
Pan Pastels on white PastelMat

Blocked in the rest with the BIG oval sponge, will be working on this again tomorrow. C & C very appreciated!

12-05-2009, 12:47 AM
These all look so hard for me! But I will try to jump in here with one of them. Maybe the cat faces.

Any advice from advance on which one could be the easiest?


12-05-2009, 01:38 AM
SunFace, I think the easiest would probably either be Ari in close-up or if you took the cherry and fruit bowl still life and cropped some of it. You don't have to do the whole thing. You could do just the pair of cherries on the velvet if you wanted something easy. Or do just one of the Christmas balls.

But I think the easiest would be to pick those two cherries that are off by themselves and then not put in the shadow of the bowl -- just continue the light area that's around them off to the right where the bowl is. You don't have to do everything that's in the photo reference. Or leave that shadow in because it makes a nice pattern with the shadow in the fold of the cloth, I didn't see that till I posted the crop, it looks pretty good!

You could change the color of the cloth, make it green or blue to push the cherries forward and make them seem redder by contrast.

If you like Miss Gemini's face better, you could do just her face and not her whole body. But I think Ari's face is a little easier because he has simpler markings.

I did a crop for you to show what I mean -- just selected an area of the picture and copied it into a new file, then autocrop to selection to get rid of the big blank area. This might be simpler -- and it still counts.

Make the colors brighter or less intense. Make the colors warmer or cooler. If you shift the colors one way or another, then you'll have the challenge.

Cherries Crop

Sometimes I do this to photo references without changing them by opening them in Gimp and then resizing the window so that only what shows in the window is what I draw from. Sometimes I use the Rectangular Select tool, then use Edit drop-down and Copy to have just part of the image to paste in a new file, which I did here -- and did on my dawn landscape too so that I could turn the computer off and still have the same crop available for my next session painting it.

When any photo reference looks too complicated, it's sometimes easy to isolate one or two elements and crop down to them. Or just leave out some areas or elements entirely. I'm not going to try to do every single tree in the middle distance in my landscape exactly shaped as it is, and I'll be surprised if I even do the big foreground tree exactly identical in every branch.

A photo reference is a starting point and it's easier to simplify leaving out extra detail than it is to make it up and put it in.

I hope this helps! The direction of light is pretty easy to see on the shiny cherries by where the highlights are. But you could do those highlights more yellowish than bluish and have it look like they're in candlelight or lantern light instead of daylight-corrected light.

12-05-2009, 02:29 PM
Thank you Robert! I will do the cherries!

Mary Y
12-05-2009, 07:39 PM
Hi Robert,
Thank you for the excellent photographs.I am a lurker of some years and have slowly started doing challenges.
The colours in your sky are lovely and it is very interesting to see how other people start their paintings.
I havn't really addressed the 'LIGHT' in your challenge.I found it challenge enough to attempt a still life. My husband said my bowl looked like something I would have thrown when I started pottery.
C& Cs would be appreciated .


12-06-2009, 09:26 AM
Hi Robert,
Thank you for the excellent photographs.I am a lurker of some years and have slowly started doing challenges.
The colours in your sky are lovely and it is very interesting to see how other people start their paintings.
I havn't really addressed the 'LIGHT' in your challenge.I found it challenge enough to attempt a still life. My husband said my bowl looked like something I would have thrown when I started pottery.
C& Cs would be appreciated .


Mary, this is striking! You've got the fruit very shiny and three dimensional, gotten the shadows and folds in the cloth beautifully, everything but the ellipse on the bowl is just right. I noticed you did cool the light a little anyway, maybe it's just the particular pastels you chose but that does come out as if I were using say, a regular fluorescent light. Great color.

Now for the bowl.

Ellipses are a pain. Ellipses freehand are an enormous pain. There's tricks for doing them, but for fixing it once it's down there that'd involve drawing over beautiful areas you've already done.

What you have is a bowl on the left that follows the reference pretty well but is at a slightly shallower angle, like you're leaning over the table a bit more than I was. On the right, it's as if I sat back and dropped the camera down a bit -- and equally plausible. There's why the bowl looks a bit like something thrown and then slumped on one side.

If you bring up the sharp angle on the right to match the curve on the left, the bowl will look symmetrical. The bottom edge of the bowl already is -- there's just that area to the right. I can see why you didn't though, because it came out so lovely in itself at that angle.

It's great looking with that bright rim and shaded inside it. However, that's the part that the perspective is off, so this is one of those "kill your darlings" moments. The curve on the left matches the way the bowl sits on the table. Fits the angle of the table as the lighting creates it. Looks solidly within the scene.

I can see how it happened. Look close at the reference. Instead of angling in and showing behind the cherries, it gets cut off sharply by the cherries piled up on top of each other. You see a little bit of white between the strawberries, but most of the right side of the bowl goes up that perfect curve until it turns -- and then there are cherries blocking it from view.

Right now to fix it, I'd just add a little more white to the right to change the angle and go up to where the part that shows matches what's on the left. The cherries have moved, that's fine. The strawberries are balanced right too. It's that narrow bit of edge that needs to be less narrow.

It'll look as if some cherries were taken out of the original arrangement but that's fine if the ellipse sides match. You can also use some light blues to shade the inside of the bowl if you want to keep that sharp white edge of the bowl a bright accent.

This is so nearly perfect that I hope you try this. You can use a kneaded eraser to pick up some of the dark pastel before going back over with white if it starts mixing when you do it. Press and lift a few times to get the loose colored powder up and then when you go over with the white it'll cover better.

12-06-2009, 09:35 AM
Mary, that's really good rendering of the still life. The colors are very rich.

Robert, looking forward to seeing your piece.

I haven't received my colourfix paper yet so I'm doing this on Strathmore pastel paper for now with Loew Cornell soft pastel sticks.

Thanks for the photo reference. I might try Ari too.


12-06-2009, 02:57 PM
Nice kitty, Sandra! I love the way you got her eyes. Very cool the way you brought the blues and greens into her darker fur patches and got the orange patch on her face so brilliant. Wonderful sketch of Miss Gemini.

12-06-2009, 04:19 PM
Dawn over Outcrop on Mt. Petit Jean
7" x 9 1/2"
Pan Pastels on white ClaireFontaine PastelMat

This came out better than I thought it would. I started working on the middle ground and almost despaired at one point of getting it right -- but it worked. The rocks took a lot of work getting them to come out the way I wanted them to and the texture on the foreground tree was just fun. I played around with the wedge sponge making different marks to get that foreground texture. I used the round-end small sponge for most of the background and the pointed knife for the rocks.

So this is what I meant by changing time of day. Of course I could find out that's not where the sun is in the morning and it's an alternate universe, but it's a neat painting whether or not I played Spin the Mountain.

Mary Y
12-07-2009, 05:34 AM
Thank you for your advise on how to fix my bowl.I will try and do it in the next few days. If I don't get it right I may try the whole picture again.
Your pan pastels have worked really well on that paper.lovely colours, I especially like the rocks and how you changed the time of day.

Thank you .Your cat is lovely I like the colours you have put in her fur. I would like to try one of the cats I havn't done any animals in pastel and admire people that do.

12-07-2009, 04:37 PM
Thanks, Mary! Looking forward to seeing what you do with the still life -- and especially the cats.

One trick that I found helps a lot for making corrections. Use the same colors you did to make the mistake and set up a patch just like it on a scrap of the same paper. Then try different ways of fixing the mistake on the scrap first, till you figure out what you need to do by trial and error. This can save failed trials from ruining an otherwise wonderful painting. I like the still life you did just as it is except for that one small area correction.

If you make the strip that needs changing long and thin, you can try several different things. What I'd do is probably use a kneaded eraser/putty eraser. Squish it into shape, press it on the area that has to go to white, peel it off. Don't rub. Then stretch the kneaded eraser, fold it on itself, reshape and repeat.

Repeat that till you've gotten it as close to the paper surface as you can. Then put white over it. Use a hard white like a Conte stick first if you've gotten all the way to paper, then a soft white like Sennelier over that or the white in your set. If you don't have different hardnesses that would be irrelevant, but if I were really trying to go from very dark to pure white I would go in more than one layer, softest last.

The other alternative is piling up more cherries behind the ones that show, completely covering the white bit that angles off the wrong way and leaving their shiny edges against the background. That takes a little imagination but tucking in another fruit would work. Or put another strawberry behind them -- that would give a light warm red against the background and solve the perspective problem.

If you do that, then try the kneaded eraser thing on the white before going over it with dark so the strawberry or cherry doesn't get a stripe.

I love doing animals and the best trick I've found for it is something Sandra did too -- do the strokes in the direction of the fur and don't make them any longer than the actual hairs. Once I learned to pay attention to the direction and curve of hairs, doing animals went from frustrating to exhilarating. That's a lot of what rounds them out and makes them three dimensional and fluffy.

12-09-2009, 12:42 AM
Robert, as I've mentioned at the All Media Sketching Thread, your piece is so energetic and vibrant. Love the brushstrokes. Pastelmat must be perfect for pan pastels.

Thanks for the crop of the photo. I've done that one in oil pastel before and am glad to have something simpler this time.

SMi soft pastel
65 lbs black cardstock from supermarket - sanded down with rough grit sandpaper and medium grit sandpaper
4x6 inch


12-09-2009, 12:36 PM
Thanks Robert, great advice!

I will work on them this weekend. I just presented my final yesterday! So I have been quite busy.

12-09-2009, 12:43 PM
Wow! Sandra, that is beautiful! Congratulations on a brilliant small painting. I love the balance and the way you changed the proportions. You also did the challenge, cooling the temperature of the light on both the cherries and the backdrop. Gorgeous!

12-09-2009, 03:26 PM
Thank you, Robert, for your comment. I should have sized it properly so that it could fit a photo frame. From afar, it looks better.

Robert, do you have to put fixative often on pastelmats? Do you use soft pastels on Stonehenge paper and do you need fixative on that?

12-09-2009, 04:55 PM
Thank you, Robert, for your comment. I should have sized it properly so that it could fit a photo frame. From afar, it looks better.

Robert, do you have to put fixative often on pastelmats? Do you use soft pastels on Stonehenge paper and do you need fixative on that?

I don't use fixative on PastelMat at all. I found out when I used it that I didn't have to. I couldn't even knock the usual amount of dust off of it. What goes on PastelMat stays on the PastelMat all by itself. This will give very pure color exactly as you put it on there.

I haven't ever tried using soft pastels on Stonehenge paper. It'd probably work out at least as well as sketchbook paper. Might be good with the Pan Pastels too since it's got a toothy grabby soft surface. I wouldn't waste it on priming it with Colourfix though, since archival card stock is good enough if I'm going to prime with Colourfix. Or any heavy paper, especially watercolor paper.

My favorite pastel surfaces right now are PastelMat and homemade Colourfix on watercolor paper, also actual printed Colourfix. I've got Wallis too and that's good stuff but a bit tougher to get detail on and I don't yet use so many layers that the greater tooth of Wallis is much advantage.

12-10-2009, 08:59 PM
Okay..... I'm getting a bit of courage from particiapating on the Chat Art Challenges (CAC) that I'll give Ari a go. As another cat fanatic I seldom pass up the opportunity to paint a cat!
Sheila aka RLT

12-10-2009, 09:57 PM
Sheila, I'm thrilled! Can't wait to see your Ari portrait. Cool that you're another cat nut!

12-10-2009, 10:11 PM
Okay..... this is what I have thus far. I copied the picture in gray scale to work for that and design my own colors for Ari. She said she didn't mind! I need to make her head more triangular..... all my cats are the all american kind with pure fluff and lacking any shape at all!
I'm just working fast on sketch paper and I'll add in the background detail as I fix the focal point.
Sheila aka RLT

12-11-2009, 12:38 AM
Great start, Sheila! He's a big handsome fellow. You did a great job putting his ears in exactly where they were in the shots that I pulled back from him. I chose an extreme close up for the challenge to make it a little easier but you're very good with cats!

Looking forward to seeing more! You were very accurate to the photo and to the way he looks. Can't wait to see how you develop this!

This particular photo emphasizes how triangular his face looks. Most of the time his face is wide and almost oval, it's interesting how the angle and foreshortening can change that look. You got his eyes just right too!

12-11-2009, 01:33 AM
What does the sandpaper do to the black board? How much of a tooth does it give the paper and how thick is it? Never though to sand the paper. I have used sandpaper a nice fine grit before.
"SMi soft pastel
65 lbs black cardstock from supermarket - sanded down with rough grit sandpaper and medium grit sandpaper
4x6 inch"

12-11-2009, 07:21 PM
Hi All, so far y"all have done some great pieces here. so i just had to try one also. it's the landscape one. Robert I do have a question for you. do you have reatives here in St Marys GA. the people next to me have your same last name and the stree they live on is also Sloan. they had a large farm many years age now it's sold off into lots for homes. well anyway this is on gesso/pumice tan watercolour paper. 9/12 C&C welcome.


12-11-2009, 08:39 PM
Pete, that is breathtaking! I love how you did the rocks and the foliage, your textures are so natural and beautiful. So much depth in your landscape. It's wonderful.

Sorry, I have no relatives that I know of in Georgia. I have a very common name though. Once in a while I get emails from people going "are you the Robert Sloan that I went to college with?" and stuff like that, and no, that wasn't me. It's been amusing finding out how many Robert Sloans there are. I'm lucky to have gotten the 2 when I did! Or I'd have wound up with robertsloan8794 or something for a username.

WC Lee
12-12-2009, 11:50 AM
Some good stuff already so far :)

I haven't done much with pastels in a long while, here is a small 3 x 4.5 inch sketch of the cherries, didn't make the exact shapes though :D done on Wallis.


12-12-2009, 02:02 PM
Hi W.C. these are great, I just did the cherrys also and when done thought i should have changed the background like you did. well to late now. I could still do it later but for now here is my version with about the same srop. 6/8 my-teintes. C&C Welcome for this is my first time to paint cherrys. thanks


12-12-2009, 06:27 PM
Wow! I love both of the versions of the cherries!

WC Lee, yours is so sumptuous and layered, I really like the different color background. It works so well. I was thinking of doing them on some dark green Colourfix with my new pastels, now you've shown me how gorgeous it looks with a contrasting background. I think I'll have to do them larger than life.

Pete K -- fantastic! Bright and bold. It looks like you kept the background but changed the light for something much brighter than I had for light. It rocks! Almost pop art and so three dimensional that it blends that with realism in a cool way.

Got to try these on the green Colourfix, it's looking like too much fun!

12-12-2009, 08:45 PM
Pete, both of your entries are outstanding I like the landscape the best it is great!, I started mine but I don't know if I can finish it before Christmas. You said that you had lived in Glendale CA for awhile, well here is a view of So. Glendale from my house, you might recognize the San Gabriel Montains Range, the Forest Lawn Memorial Park is in the middle ground.

12-13-2009, 12:15 AM
Great photo, Jose. I love the depth in it and the way you caught the memorial park in the middle ground. It's beautiful.

12-13-2009, 12:39 AM
Robert, thank you this was my first attempt at cherrys in a still life. so i really had now clue on going about it. I just started like so many others and ended up with this. first time for everything. thanks again.

Jose, You know I do remember the mountains not like that tho. it's been about 37 years or so ago. i do remember seeing them out my window and about two week after i moved there wanting to climb them. after about 4 to 5 hr's of climbing i was no where up the side so i gave up. looking from your back yard now i see why i gave up. brings back come good old memeries. thank you ever so much. and hay i do see snow on top of those mountains.

Mary Y
12-13-2009, 02:38 AM
Hi Robert, I hope you enjoyed your birthday.
Thank you for the advice on trying out corrections on another piece of paper I will try it. I had however dived in this time and redid the rim and added another cherry.
Afterwards I played arround with Gimp and put an ellipse over it (that is why I think it is now a little high)but good to know I can check at the drawing stage next time.I also found the more I looked at it the more I felt I should fiddle with it .Another important lesson I learned was not to tidy my colours away so quickly.

WC Lee your cherries are lovely and great background.

Peter K love your trees (and all the rest of your painting)
your cherries are very luminous I like them a lot.

Shelia Ari looks great you have caught the siamese eyes very well.


12-13-2009, 03:17 PM
That's magnificent! The changes really helped -- the ellipse looks lovely. It worked! You have a gorgeous finished still life and if the ellipse didn't quite match one drawn in Gimp, it looks good enough to fool the eye.

12-13-2009, 06:05 PM
I also like the changes, very nice

Mary Y
12-13-2009, 06:24 PM
Robert and Pete thank you.

12-14-2009, 07:25 PM
2 Cherries
5" x 7"
Art Spectrum pastels on Leaf Green Dark Art Spectrum Colourfix paper.

My second go at my own Pastel Strokes references. I was too tempted by the cherries crop not to try it myself. I warmed the light a little and changed the backdrop to green so that the cherries would really pop and be redder. The colors are as close as I could get them in the scan.

This looks even more brilliant in person, I love how it came out. Definitely a keeper, it might even look good with a white mat.

12-14-2009, 08:35 PM
Great photo, Jose. I love the depth in it and the way you caught the memorial park in the middle ground. It's beautiful.

Thank you Robert, this is the view from my North terrace its not always that clear sometimes it is hazy, best time to see it is in the early morning and late afternoon with warm light and if the wind is blowing, I have lots of pictures at different times of the day.
BTW, the painting of the cherries is fabulous.

12-14-2009, 09:06 PM
Robert, very nicely done. the cherrys do pop on that green background. and this is a keeper. I had the same thought when almost through about a green backgroound but was way to far gone to change it at that point. I'm glad you croped this one i wouldn't of thought of it this way. thank you.

12-14-2009, 09:35 PM
Thank you! I've still got the other half of that piece of green Colourfix and now I'm thinking of using it as a backdrop for Miss Gemini -- maybe crop her too mostly to her face and forepaws. She's so pretty and I need to do a nice portrait for my daughter, whose cat she is.

Last night when I went downstairs for something I came back up and found Miss Gemini curled up in my armchair. She didn't move when I sat down, so I couldn't quite lean back, spent a comfortable hour and a half sitting forward a bit with a warm purring cat tucked between me and the back of the chair. Of course I reached back every few minutes to scritch her, she was purring!

12-15-2009, 03:32 AM
I really enjoyed creating this. I cropped until I had the right composition. I wanted the orangy fruit to be the center of interest. Therefore I wanted to line it up with the golden rule. I work with many mediums but I enjoy the sparkle pastel provides. I tried to leave the pastel without blending it. The support is Strathmore's Pastel Paper, in a creamy brown. The size is 7"x9".
I must say, before closing, all of the pastels in this month's challenge are fabulous. I really enjoy viewing the variations.

Mary Y
12-15-2009, 05:21 AM
Robert, your cherries are beautiful against the green the complimentaries work really well here.

Peg , I love how you cropped this and your fruit looks very luscious.

12-15-2009, 03:23 PM
Peg, that is gorgeous! I love your crop and your painterly technique. I've been so spoiled by the sanded papers that seeing something this beautiful on a plain paper is amazing -- it's wonderful! Thank you for participating and creating such a glorious composition.

I knew people would come up with original crops but this one is perfect. The nectarine just glows, the cherries have the shiny reflections of the bowl perfectly rendered, everything's so lively and tempting. You have my mouth watering wishing I had the setup again in real life -- heh, I'd probably eat all the fruit all over again. Need to do this more often!

12-16-2009, 11:41 PM
Ok. Today I had a bad day ... and I unwind by painting. So I decided to finally try this. I honestly did not spend much time on them, since I did them in less than 2 hours. so I know I could do better.

Please remember that I am a beginner anyway.

12-16-2009, 11:52 PM
Mary - Many Thanks.

Robert - Thank you so very much for the image. I fell in love with it the minute I saw it and knew where I was going with it. Soft pastel is honestly a medium I have been working to perfect. My first attempts with it were feeble. But this subject matter worked well for me. I feel as though I have finally conquered it. Yes, just a plain paper. The cropping is something I know a bit about as is composition. Again, thanks for the image.

Mary Y
12-17-2009, 12:33 AM
Your cherries are lovely they glow on the paper, and I really like the colours you used in your background .
Ari looks very superior which is the look I think Robert caught when he took the picture.
It is nice to paint after a bad day and forget everything except the painting.

Vivien Maloney
12-17-2009, 12:01 PM
Lovely work here, well done everyone!
Robert; may not get mine finished before the end of the month, so might just post it as a WIP. I am painting the Xmas decorations and I'm changing the colours etc. It's taking far more time than anticipated and is at the awful, ugly stage where I shudder when I look at it - yuk! I've only got another couple of days before all the family descends on us for Xmas, but will try to get it done.

12-17-2009, 07:58 PM
SunFace, wow! Your cherries are bright and lovely! For a beginner, you sure did incredibly well with them -- nicely rounded, well shaped, highlighted and textured. They're gorgeous. Don't apologize for good paintings!

You got my cat's eyes perfect! That's my Ari! He's so sweet, your painting really catches his fluffiness well too. Good colors and great fur texture. Awww that's my fuzzbuddy!

Viv, go ahead and post the WIP! I'd love to see it and I think the thread stays unlocked for a few months for catch-ups too, at least I hope it does. I'll bet the awful ugly stage doesn't look nearly as bad to anyone else as it does to you, that's how that works for me anyway. Everyone gets that.

It's just so much easier to see how it'll develop on someone else's painting than my own!

Peg, thank you! Try doing some from life maybe. You got the fruit still life so perfect from my photo that I think if you raided your fruit bowl you'd have a good time with it. Just be sure to snap photos when you start it in case the painting gets interrupted and anything changes color or starts to wither. Like flowers, fruit don't really last that long.

That nectarine survived a few sketches and a photo shoot and then it was gone. Juicy and tasty. Same with the cherries. Now every time I look at the photo I want a two pound bag of them again. lol

I need to live somewhere with a cherry tree in the yard someday.

12-17-2009, 11:34 PM
Robert, thank you for your comment on my piece. I don't have to work tomorrow and perhaps I could attempt another piece.

Bluefly, sorry to have delayed answering. I sanded normal paper down because normal paper doesn't have any tooth and after I sanded it down, it would hold two layers of pastels. It's an alternative from using sanded paper which I hadn't received yet when I was doing the cherries.

I learnt the technique from Pete K.

Pete, love the very red cherries but your landscape is stunning too.

WC Lee, your miniatures are always so finely done. I understand we could apply water to soft pastel too with a brush? Great highlights.

Peg, the nectarine looks so furry and edible!

Sunface, love the expression you gave to the cat!!! A very "told you so" look!

12-18-2009, 12:07 AM
Robert you are too kind! I am still working with cheap paper and supplies, and the fact that I rushed through it did not help... but I did your cat with TLC!

I had a cat that was my best friend when I was a teenager and I suffer greatly when he passed, so I understand how one can love a pet.

12-18-2009, 12:08 AM
Thank Sandra!

I love your work. I feel everyone's work is so much better that sometimes I blush whn i post!

12-18-2009, 12:30 AM
Here's a quick sketch of Ari on a small piece of 65 lbs black stock card paper. I didn't have to sand it down and Cretacolor carre hard pastel went on easily.


12-18-2009, 10:32 PM
Nice sketches, everyone. Here's my 2 cherries.


I know it's too naive. But I am a naive in soft pastels!!!
I also did a mistake of transferring my drawing to canson paper using white pastels on the back of my paper and ended up unable to hide the white marks with colors. I must have used one of the dominant colors of the sketch.

12-18-2009, 11:38 PM
Sandra, he's beautiful! That's my Ari! He's so fluffy. I love the way you got his tail tip tucked in next to his face too, he's got exuberant fur and you really got the softness to it. Also his beautiful eyes.

Kazuki, gorgeous cherries. It's elegant how you used just the shadows to flatten them on the blue surface, they jump right out so shiny and real. Great values, excellent detail and you did change the light -- brightened it a lot from the photo! Beautiful!

12-18-2009, 11:55 PM
Thanks for the kind words, Robert, and for the encouragement.

12-19-2009, 03:47 AM
I liked the faint white lines, they're a drawn touch but very appealing in their way. More so than if they were dark. Because sometimes they pass near highlights, they're also lost and found lines which makes them intriguing.

Sometimes a mistake is serendipity, I think that's what happened with your sketch lines around your hard edges. You could touch them up with a red pastel pencil but I think it'd lose something if you did.

12-19-2009, 09:27 PM
Peg, this is great, your cherries sure look ripe enought to eat right now. bet they are jucie. very nic work.

SunFace, your cherries look very nice and the cat love the eyes on him they match the background and i think that makes them more vibrant.

Sandra, so it works? your cat has a lot of charactor in his look he is giving. like the colours you used in it. well done.

Sue your cherries are wonderful, they have a vibrant shine to them and great shadow. love it.

Mary Y
12-19-2009, 10:09 PM
I love the colours in your cat He's great.

Lovely cherries , they look excellent against the blue BG


12-19-2009, 10:20 PM
Hi all, I am a WetCanvas and pastel newbie with a real newbie question. All of you are getting these sumptuous reds in your cherries.

I'm scratching away on my Canson with very old Senneliers and a few Rembrandts and cannot for the life of me, get any good REDS? :crying:

Too shy to post one of my feeble attempts, but may do a cherry if I can find that wonderful glowy red that everyone else has. :(

12-20-2009, 07:52 PM
One of the ways I got the wonderful glowy red is to put some yellow and orange under it. Then use the reds I have. I was working with Art Spectrum Pure Tones, but if I were doing them with your collection I'd use a little yellow with the red you have in the sunlit areas, then go to violet with possibly some darker red brown in the shadow areas.

The glowy reds in my version also come out redder because of the green background. Changing the background to the complement of red would make even a russet brown look more like a glowing red. Some of this is choosing the right colors. Others is choosing what colors to put next to them.

If you post a color chart of the actual pastels you have, then I could give some more specific suggestions with your actual palette. Rembrandt does have some strong reds if you don't have one in your collection, so does Sennelier, so maybe you could pick up a few extra sticks in open stock too. The main thing is what to put with and around the red in order to make it appear extra glowing brilliant, so if you have any red at all I can be more specific when I see what hue it is.

Vivien Maloney
12-20-2009, 08:53 PM
Hi Robert; finally finished (or as much as I've had time to do). I wanted to try your challenge of "changing the colours and the light etc" and I was surprised at how difficult it was, because once I began changing the colours, I had no reference photo to work off. I see, now that I've scanned my painting that there a couple of things I needed to correct. One is the elipse on the top of the bowl. I had trouble with it as it is a strange shape (a kind of bannana shape) but even so, I've brought the dip down too much in front of the purple ornament, and I also should have put a much brighter highlight on the drum ornament. However for what it's worth this is my effort and I enjoyed doing it very much.

Vivien Maloney
12-20-2009, 08:58 PM
"Christmas Ornaments", 12in x 8in, Pastel paperhttp://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/20-Dec-2009/196305-img062.jpg
C & Cs welcome

12-20-2009, 09:10 PM
Viv, this is gorgeous! You did change the light beautifully! Only a tiny bit of the ellipse on top of the bowl shows behind the ornaments, put that litle bit in and you're all right.

Try juxtaposing a bright highlight adjacent to a very dark area on one of the ornaments to make it look shiny. You've changed the type of ornaments from shiny to frosted -- very effectively, they look exactly like the frosted ones I've seen with a matte finish. Nice treatment on the lace and the beads too!

12-20-2009, 09:49 PM
Ok, here are my first tries!

12-20-2009, 11:08 PM
I bought sand paper from hardware shop and planned to try ops and pastels on it. I started with the apple from the fruit bowl picture and then I got carried away, so I ended up doing this.

I started without a prelim drawing so everything including the bowl looks out of shape.
I found it hard to remove stray paint from the sand paper. So the whole surroundings of the painting look messy.

c&c welcome

Vivien Maloney
12-20-2009, 11:39 PM
Thanks Robert. I enjoyed changing the colours and the light etc. But it wasn't easy - in fact probably the most difficult Challenge that I've done, but I learnt a lot from it. I would like to have another "go" at this again, maybe next year, if you're hosting again. Thanks for this Challenge - it was great!

Mary Y
12-20-2009, 11:54 PM
Your decorations are excellent .You have changed the light well .I think you are brave tackling it and I really like the colour you painted the bowl. I just get very lost. Your lace is lovely, such a difficult subject.

Wow your cherries are glowing on the screen especially the ones in the bowl.
Your crops work well (I never seem to think of that)and both paintings look really good.
Don't be shy about posting , people here are very helpful and they are very generous with their knowledge.

Sue ,
I like your fruit bowl. I don't think everything is out of shape just the rim of the bowl. I know how hard is was and hopefully Robert can give you some advice.

Mary Y
12-21-2009, 12:02 AM
This is my third attempt at Miss Gemini.I found her hard to draw and now I have started to fiddle so it is time to post.
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/20-Dec-2009/100777-GEM.JPGThe dark patch in the top right is the shadow of a clip.


Mary Y
12-21-2009, 01:47 AM
I forgot to put C&Cs appreciated.

12-21-2009, 09:59 AM
Chuas2 -- it came out lovely! The sunlight looks bright and morning-yellowed. You succeeded in the challenge. Both your crop on the fruit bowl and your crop on the Pan Pastels are great. The colors on the fruit are cheerful and lively, very true to a different light than I took the photo in. Wonderful! Congratulations!

Sue, while the ellipse of the bowl is off, the fruit all look fine. Your nectarine looks good, it's more colorful than the photo and looks truer, also you caught the reflection of the white bowl onto its shiny skin well. Fixing the ellipse shouldn't be too hard.

Put some tracing paper over what you have and sketch the outlines of the forms in. Then work on the outlines of the bowl till the ellipse looks right, especially adding some more behind the strawberries and maybe also fixing the bottom of the bowl on the left -- the curve on the bottom at the right looks truer and that bowl is symmetrical.

As for the smudges on the background, one of the things you could do is fill in the background with loose scumbled strokes shading from a soft gray-blue in the upper right to darker at the lower left. Lighten it a bit from the sandpaper color and the shadow of the bowl will be more prominent. It's okay to give that shadow softened edges, shadows aren't always clean-edged and hard. Also there's a penumbra, a narrow area around a shadow that's usually the true color of whatever the shadow's against.

You can read more about shadows in ESP: Colourful Still Life taught by Colorix, where I picked that up. The whole class taught me so much about color and light, it changed the way I see everything.

Mary, that is a beautiful rendering of Miss Gemini! You got her perfectly. Her markings are accurate. Her proportions are true and elegant -- I'm looking at her right now sitting in the window and you got all the quirks of her personal markings, face and build. She is lovely!

I love your turquoise background, that is gorgeous. Sets her off beautifully. You caught the soft fluffiness of her beautiful silky fur too. Her eyes are perfect. You've done a fantastic cat portrait! I wouldn't change anything -- you have the likeness and you convey her personality well. She looks sweet, loving and purring in your painting and that's exactly what she's like.

12-21-2009, 11:26 AM
Mary, I LOVE your painting of Miss G. Beautiful color, soft silky coat, and her eyes are so alive.

And thanks to all for the notes of encouragement. Much appreciated!

Vivien Maloney
12-21-2009, 11:45 AM
Mary; thanks for your nice comments on my "Christmas Ornaments".

Your "Miss Gemini" painting is gorgeous, you've really caught he attentive look.

Mary Y
12-21-2009, 09:20 PM
Robert, Thank you Now that its been uploaded her paws look strange.

Chaus and Viv thank you for taking time to look and comment.

Robert thank you for the great images and for doing such a good job hosting this December thread.It is my first Pastel Strokes and I have enjoyed it .

12-21-2009, 11:17 PM
Her paws don't look strange to me. They look very natural -- just not in the same position as the photo. You moved them stretched a little further out in what's another common pose for her, and placed her elbow accurately for the new pose. So it's not a flaw, it's one of those changes between photo and painting that can make a painting better than the photo and definitely original.

I have seen her press the palms of her front paws together like that sometimes too -- it's a very cute pose and I mean this, I have seen her do it. They're not inaccurate. I thought her paws were one of the cute things about your painting, showing you know cats pretty well!

12-21-2009, 11:48 PM
I bought sand paper from hardware shop and planned to try ops and pastels on it. I started with the apple from the fruit bowl picture and then I got carried away, so I ended up doing this.

I started without a prelim drawing so everything including the bowl looks out of shape.
I found it hard to remove stray paint from the sand paper. So the whole surroundings of the painting look messy.

c&c welcome

Kazuki, I love working on Hardware store sandpapers myself! They give such a nice effect but are so much more gentle on my pocketbook! I have found that I can lift stray marks from the paper using just a kneadable rubber eraser and pressing that into the paper.

Oh and Robert, yes... I've been slacking! I need to finish up on poor Ari before I lose his head!
Sheila aka RLT

12-22-2009, 12:11 AM
[quote=RoadLessTaken I love working on Hardware store sandpapers myself! They give such a nice effect but are so much more gentle on my pocketbook! [/quote]

This is a great tip! I just may try it! Just how do you fight the temptation of not rubbing the pastels with your fingers? I am afraid my fingerprints will dissapear! :cat:

12-22-2009, 12:13 AM
I use chamois cloth and stumps for the blending now that I no longer have finger prints!

12-23-2009, 09:47 PM
Thanks, Mary and Robert. That sounds like a good idea to correct the bowl. So I correct the ellipse on paper and then transfer it back to the painting, right?

12-23-2009, 11:02 PM
Yep, Sue. That's the safe way to do it. I think there are some ways to draw ellipses geometrically besides using an ellipse template. One is just to do your curve and fold the paper so you mirror exactly the same side, that can help. Works easier with tracing paper or printer paper that's thin. Copy the good side, fold it over at the middle of the bowl and trace the good side again in reverse.

12-24-2009, 12:05 PM
Ok, I just worked on my first sheet of Colourfix paper. What a treat!

Robert, I also ordered the Colourfix Primer, but it's going to have to be as good as this paper! At any rate, thank you so much for all of the valuable information and helpful hints. Folks are so nice here!

So here is my holiday gift to everyone at WetCanvas!:clap: :wave:


12-24-2009, 03:23 PM
Oh wow! Chuas, this is so gorgeous! I love the reflections and textures, the crop you used, everything in it is so perfect. This is incredible.

Go repost it on the Merry Christmas thread too, share it with everyone here! I'm serious! This is so beautiful.

I think it's the strong values and contrasts that give your holiday piece such wonderful realism. That's amazing. Also you warmed the light, so it's like incandescent with just a touch of candlelight thrown in -- that gives it a fantastic holiday feeling.

12-24-2009, 08:54 PM
Oh, thank you Robert, you're so kind! :)

Of course I can see all sorts of flaws, but it was GREAT fun to do!

12-25-2009, 01:52 PM
Miss Gemini in the Window
6 1/2" x 8 3/4"
Cretacolor pastel pencils
Brown ClaireFontaine PastelMat paper

This is my Christmas present for my daughter Kitten, it's her cat Miss Gemini. Gemmi is a little put out today because we just got the new puppy Rhiannon, but she's gotten over her snit and will let Kitten pet her now.

I changed the time of day from night when I snapped the reference to day, but my window does not ever get direct sun. So I don't have bars of shadow slanting across Gemini in total visual fiction, it's still the same window, just less of the landscape showing because I simplified the view to just sky, as if the trees all got cut down. Which they haven't, for that I'm grateful!.

It came out a lot better than I thought it would! I love that surface, it can take details and it will hold layer on layer of pastel tenaciously as if it's glued to the surface. It's worth its rather expensive price for good paintings. I just wouldn't use it for sketches, that's what Canson Mi-Tientes is for.

12-25-2009, 05:53 PM
I hope it's not too late to register to participate- finally have time to stop and paint and you've all just inspired me.

12-25-2009, 06:09 PM
Not too late at all! Please, jump on in! You could join and do one or more of the photos on the last day or even after the month is over, as long as the thread's still open and unlocked. Also my five new references are all posted as if they're in the Reference Image Library, the holiday one is from the RIL, so if you want to use them again later on or use them with another medium -- feel free and enjoy!

Mary Y
12-26-2009, 03:35 AM
Your decorations are lovely .

Wow Miss Gemini in all her glory. She is beautiful and I love how you did the colours in her fur. Your daughter must be delighted to get such a lovely painting.

12-26-2009, 12:54 PM
Robert, your Gemini's portrait is outstanding, the fur is very soft and shining like silk, congratulations!

12-26-2009, 01:12 PM
WOW...some impressive work this month! LOVE your Miss gemini, Robert!
I didnt think I would get to do the challenge this month, but seeing everyone's renditions has imspired me....
Here is the bowl of balls....loved that photo. On black construction paper, using mostly soft pastels....


12-26-2009, 03:05 PM
Thank you! Jmcedeno, her fur really is that soft and silky and shiny. Both of our cats have incredible coats. Mary, her markings drove me nuts. She's a tortie with areas of her coat put together from three or four different tortie cat patterns and has a seam down the middle, it's beautiful but makes her hard to map out!

Judibelle, that's wonderful! Great choice using black paper, that really makes the arrangement pop. Cool way you showed the lace too, it doesn't distract from the balls or the focal point of the decorated ball.

12-26-2009, 03:33 PM
Judi, I love yours and I love that you get that too, I'll be reluctant to do something (or scared) and then I see everyone else posting their work, each of them personal and magical in some way and it's so inspiring!

Robert, Miss Gemini looks SO silky and soft! I have dogs, but I can't even think of animal hair in pastels, I wouldn't know where to start!

12-26-2009, 05:49 PM
Robert...thank you. I may get a chance to try one of the kitties, both of which are very intriguing. we'll see.....
Chuas...thank you...it was really yours and Vivien's which finally inspired me to give it a try.
I love all the cherry pictures as well...Everyone did such a great job...

12-26-2009, 06:06 PM
Guys, Robert, what a wonderful collection you've all made! Great paintings!


12-27-2009, 03:09 AM
Thank you! It's been a lot of fun all month for me and gotten me into doing all sorts of things in pastels again.

Vivien Maloney
12-28-2009, 03:51 PM
Hi there; Merry Xmas to everyone. Thank you for hosting Robert, they were great reference photos.

12-28-2009, 04:14 PM
Well, I managed to get one more in, although although havent tried many animals. 'fraid it doesnt really look like the real thing, but it was fun trying...
thanks for hosting Robert....nice choices of photos...

12-28-2009, 04:52 PM
JB, that looks like a lilac point colorpoint. Might not be Ari's markings but it's a good recognizable cat face! Love the muzzle and three dimensional modeling, that's really good.

12-29-2009, 12:50 AM
Everyone has so much going on. so many great pieces posted. I would like to take this time say Happy New Year if i dont get back before hand. and I hope you will all join me next year here. well at least in 3 days anway. Robert thank for being such a great host. I had fun and painted something i have neve did before. even did the same piece in oils something i haven't done for some time. thank you.

12-29-2009, 12:59 PM
Yes, many thanks Robert, for encouraging me to do my first EVER WetCanvas postings!

12-30-2009, 07:53 PM
So glad you did, chuas2! That's some of what hosting is all about, luring the shy into posting. Your work is so beautiful, don't hide it any more!

12-30-2009, 08:28 PM
I titled this one " and then there were two". Made the original block-in with three clementines, decided I needed a snack and then there were two.:lol:

This is a small (6 x 8 in) study painted on pastelmat. Boy, that product has found a spot on my easel. Really like the way that pastel sticks to it and how little dust is generated while painting. This is painted using Richeson hard pastels and then finishing with Terrry Ludwig's softie's.



12-30-2009, 10:19 PM
John, these are great! Love the concept of this one, the terrible temptation of eating part of a still life is always there for me. The way you got the inside of the skin on that devoured clementine is wonderful, it has a lot of mass and weight to it. I just peeled an orange and ate it tonight studying the texture and you've captured that perfectly.

I think it's more lively than if you'd just painted the fruits together without eating one. This one's interactive!

12-31-2009, 05:01 PM
I'm a bit late to join in really but did this quickly on that new paper pastel mat...it will obviously take getting used to....it seems to suck the pastel in and doesn't give it up easily! Coupled with a dry spell on my part - I thought I'd make the effort to at least finish the year with a small one!
I appreciate all the pastels done here...there's a lot of talent about!

12-31-2009, 07:58 PM
Deirdre, these ar two fine looking cherrys. they look so real.

12-31-2009, 08:13 PM
Deirdre, your cherries are gorgeous! I love the drama of the light, you have them in their own little spotlight and the strong values really give it so much punch! Beautiful work, and lovely how you made the background just a touch cooler to make the fruits pop forward. Incredible! Thanks for jumping in on the last day! I'm so glad you did!