View Full Version : The Spotlight - February 2010

02-01-2010, 09:09 AM
Hi everyone! And welcome to the first installment of...The Spotlight! My name is Don, and I am your host for this month!

If you missed the announcement/invitation thread, here’s a quick recap of what The Spotlight is all about!

The Spotlight is the new monthly activity thread appearing in the Soft Pastel Talk forum, replacing The Pastel Strokes. Its format will be quite similar to the Strokes, in that it is an activity thread for pastel artists of all experience levels working from photos chosen by a monthly host. Most months, the host will choose photos from only one subject, putting that subject into “the spotlight,” so to speak! For example, one month the subject will be painting water, another month will spotlight flowers, etc.

Some months, rather than spotlight a subject, the focus will be on a challenge of some sort. In those cases, we might have a wider variety of photo references, but “the spotlight” will be on the challenge itself.

Since this is a group activity, we can pool our knowledge and resources, and grow as artists in a fun, “no-pressure” atmosphere. And no critiques unless specifically asked for. The intent, as it was in the Pastel Strokes, is to have fun, try new things, experiment, and perhaps most of all, to see what our friends and colleagues are painting from the same reference material!

Please note: The photos are all taken by me and you have my permission to use the photos as reference to create your artwork and to sell them and/or exhibit them. The actual photos, similar to the photos in the Reference image library, still retain the copyright of the photographer. So you can not copy the photo to your blog, for example, without the permission of the photographer, or digitally alter or reproduce the photo for any purpose other than for your personal use, with the exception of crops, digital alterations and posts of these photos within "The Spotlight" thread.

Ok, the official introduction is complete!

The Spotlight this month is on....choosing a layout – vertical, horizontal or square!

I’m sure most of you have had this question arise when doing a painting; or when taking photos – would it look better with a vertical or horizontal layout? Sometimes it is hard to decide. Here, for example are a couple photos I took in a nearby park.


As I stood in front of the scene, I couldn’t decide! So I took a photo in both layouts! Choosing your layout is often the first decision you will make when approaching that blank paper or board. That is the subject that we will explore this month in ...”The Spotlight!”

Using the following photos, let’s experiment with vertical and horizontal layouts and see which you prefer (and why!). Or perhaps a square layout will be your choice – that is another option! Crop them however you like!

A common strategy is to use a vertical layout if the strongest element or focal area is vertically oriented. So a painting of a tall tree would be done in a vertical layout, for example. If the major element is horizontal – a row of houses, for example, then the painting’s layout would be horizontal, too. The idea being, that the layout will reinforce or accentuate the elements in the painting that have the same directional thrust.

On the other hand, sometimes the strategy might be to have a layout that runs counter to the directional thrust of your subject as it might be possible that a painting with lots of vertical elements needs a horizontal layout to keep it from being too vertical. Or vice versa!

So what is the best strategy?

I don’t have any answers for you – I just have the questions! The challenge is to find out what answers work best for you and your specific painting! There is no right or wrong answer! Chances are opinions will differ about what works best! Isn’t that the way art should be?

I am providing square photos, so that they don’t influence your decision too much. Feel free to do some thumbnails or preliminary sketches to help you decide how you want to crop them (or not!). You can post sketches and final paintings. I look forward to seeing what you all come up with - vertical, horizontal or square!






Post all your paintings, sketches, comments, questions here in this thread! Enjoy!


02-01-2010, 09:46 AM
Ooh, these are very nice photos, Don, thank you. The square format looks good already. Alright, I have to play with them.

Paula Ford
02-01-2010, 11:03 AM
I love the square format!

02-01-2010, 11:28 AM
These are great! Funny, this is exactly what I was thinking about recently. I haven't tried square format art and usually alternate between horizontal and vertical -- think I'll try some sketches and see what I come up with. Thanks for all the square format

02-01-2010, 11:38 AM
What superb photos to try.... and an excellent first choice of topic for the spotlight.

I frequently favour portrait format.....especially when I take photos.....and have often used square.........but also do landscape........so will have some fun here......

all this and pastels too !!!!

now to find the time !

So glad I joined this forum :)

02-01-2010, 11:41 AM
Great photos to choose from, Don. I hope to tackle at least one of them before the end of the month.

Vivien Maloney
02-01-2010, 11:54 AM
Love the photos Don. They look good in the square format. Ummmm, square, vertical or horizontal, ummmm and ummmmm again! Will have to do some sketching first I think. The new "Spotlight" looks lots of fun.

02-01-2010, 12:00 PM
Great choice of photos and, at the moment, they all look good for a square format! I'm off to do some cropping before i start on sketches. Thanks. This will be both fun and educational I'm sure!

02-01-2010, 01:01 PM
Thank you all for the nice comments regarding the photos! Sketches, thumbnails, notans are a great way to start experimenting with the format and composition! Feel free to post them!

I do hope to upload higher resolution versions of photos 1 thru 3 to the Reference image library later today! I will provide links when that happens! Photos 4 and 5 are already at their maximum size, unfortunately.


02-01-2010, 02:06 PM
Very cool set of photos, Don!

I give orientation a bit of thought when I'm out with my camera, and sometimes I'll do a few shots in both landscape and portrait - it often gives a completely different feel to the image, and sometimes I'm surprised by which one ends up looking better! I do occasionally go with square formats when cropping photos as well (some recent examples are on my blog, in fact).

I selected one of the photos and will have fun experimenting with the format :). This monthly spotlight thread is a great idea and I'll look forward to seeing everyone's work and how they approached the format for their image(s).

02-01-2010, 03:00 PM
Hi All:wave: :wave: :wave:

Thank Don for the great pics and for hosting this month this looks like it is going to be fun:clap: :clap: :clap:

02-01-2010, 03:17 PM
Thanks Don your photos are beautiful, I'm looking forward to joining in and learning a lot.

02-01-2010, 04:12 PM
Thanks Don! You've posted some great photos here. I really like the square format too. I'm looking forward to participating.

02-01-2010, 04:29 PM
Larger versions of photos 1 thru 3 are now in the RIL.

Photo #1:


Photo #2:


Photo #3:


As mentioned earlier, photos 4 and 5 are already at their maximum size.


02-01-2010, 05:16 PM
Wonderful pictures, Don, great task. I've selected one, too, it fits perfectly with what I want to test colourwise, too, so two birds, one stone.

I like square... Square is underrated, often it is a very good solution when a painting doesn't want to fit into horizontal or vertical.

"Teacher, teacher, can I do a round painting?" ;-D


02-01-2010, 06:53 PM
Here's my first one of three. For this, it's a 5x7" crop with the focal point (main pine tree) slightly off-center. I like this portrait format as it focuses on the pine and its reflection. I love the mist rising off the lake and the dash of colored fog in the photo.

Done on 600-grit sanded paper using NuPastels. I may go back and tweak the right edge of the reflection a bit, as it got distorted as I was trying to layer colors for the adjacent water:o . Good practice for doing water & reflections, and clearly I need to work on that.

Comments/suggestons welcome.


02-01-2010, 09:04 PM

Very nice! I agree that the vertical format works well to put the focus on the tree and it's reflection.

Thanks for posting our first painting in The Spotlight!


02-01-2010, 09:12 PM
Wonderful pictures, Don, great task. I've selected one, too, it fits perfectly with what I want to test colourwise, too, so two birds, one stone.

I like square... Square is underrated, often it is a very good solution when a painting doesn't want to fit into horizontal or vertical.

"Teacher, teacher, can I do a round painting?" ;-D

I must say that in my experience square is rare, especially for landscapes. It is interesting to see how many folks have commented on how much they like the square format. Some art how-to books I have read definitely frown upon the square format as being too dull and static. Hopefully in the next month, we will explore that "assumption."

Although round was not mentioned by me as a format possibility, I guess it could be!


02-02-2010, 06:39 AM
... Some art how-to books I have read definitely frown upon the square format as being too dull and static. ..

Dull and static -- or "restful", "serene", "meditative". It is all in the mind-set.

Sonya, well chosen format to put all emphasis on the tree and its reflection :clap:

02-02-2010, 09:08 AM
Thanks Don and Charlie for your comments. I finished the horizontal format version last night and will try to post later today, and I'm sure I'll be able to finish the square version as well.

It's interesting - I'd never given any thought to using a square format until I started reading more landscape painting books and articles. I'd never had any prejudices for or against any type of format used in a painting - for me, if the painting caught my eye and was successful compositionally, that was all that mattered. I'm reminded of the series of 100 same-scene paintings that were featured in the Pastel Journal by Marla Baggata and those should put anyone's mind to rest that a square format is dull or static.

02-02-2010, 10:06 AM

I found my response to your first pictures of the tree in two different formats interesting. It seemed to me that the vertical picture was about the tree, while the horizontal picture was about the sweep of the shadow.

...but I suppose that's the point, really. That the shape of the picture is one of the design elements.

Just my 2-cents' worth.

02-02-2010, 10:17 AM
Nice going, Sonya...sounds like you're on a roll....

I kinda like the square, also, though I agree with Luana...it's one of the design elements, to figure out what works best for a particular composition.

02-02-2010, 04:31 PM
so I had an hour or so earlier today and decided to do a square crop of this scene. Bugra paper, 9x9, using mostly Mt Visions.
C&C always welcomed

02-02-2010, 05:17 PM
...but I suppose that's the point, really. That the shape of the picture is one of the design elements.
Good point!


02-02-2010, 05:19 PM

Nice painting! I'm going to start thinking of the square format more myself! I don't think I've ever done a square landscape!


02-02-2010, 06:55 PM
Ok, I'm going to be brave here and post a failure, because I really want to LEARN from my mistakes!

Color looks wrong, but not sure how to fix. Water doesn't look like water, it looks like the sand trap on a golf course. Reflections of trees look like a clothes line. Judi? Any suggestions? Help! Someone...anyone! :crying:
Oh, I always forget this part. Many different pastels, mostly Art Spectrum on Colourfix paper (brownish tint).

02-02-2010, 10:58 PM
Hi Chuas!

Thanks for posting this - it is far from a failure! In fact, lots of successful things happening! First, I think your horizontal crop works well, The composition is nicely balanced! Your greens are nice - they don't have to be an exact match to work well. You have neutralized the greens- always important to make them look more natural! And you have hints of brown or red, which helps neutralize those greens and to give a suggestion of branches and trunks.

Now, I am no landscape expert, by any means, but I have some thoughts to help with the reflections. Let's look closer at the photo:


Notice (yellow arrows) that right at the shoreline it is very dark where the bushes hang over the shoreline. Placing a very dark color at the shoreline often helps. Also notice that the greens of the vegetation still appear throughout the lighter, rougher water (red arrows). These are the biggest differences I see in your painting and the ref.

Also, make sure that reflections are directly under the actual object. Keep in mind that the colors of the reflection are basically the colors of the trees and the sky. The rougher the water, the more sky is reflected.

Personally, and this is by no means the only or best way to do this, I put in the reflection as if the water was still - starting with the trees (Pardon me for using your painting and doing this on the computer). All my strokes are vertical and horizontal:


Then I would go in with the sky colors - again horizontal strokes:


Again, the rougher water is still a combination of the tree colors and the sky color. Keep in mind I have simplified this, but that's the way I would approach it. Blending the reflections to soften the edges wherever needed is another thing to consider.

I hope this helps!


02-03-2010, 02:22 AM
This is my first try at any of the challenges. I did mine vertical, too, but it's really tiny, 5 x 7, and only took about 40 minutes. It was quick and fun, AS sticks and aubergine Colourfix paper.

Thanks, Don, it's an interesting challenge. I will try to do some more too.

Here's the sketch:


02-03-2010, 08:45 AM
Jean...very nice. Love the mood...
Don..appreciate seeing your approach to this. I can see where i really needed more dark along the edges of the water. That was very helpful...

02-03-2010, 08:45 AM
Hi Jean! Thanks for posting! I really like the colors and the atmosphere in this one! I think we are seeing the vertical format emphasizes the big tree and its reflection.


02-03-2010, 10:36 AM
Thank you Don, that is very helpful. I'm going to try this and will repost, providing I can remove enough of the former color. I find it's a bit difficult to do this on Colourfix...

Something I don't understand though, I thought reflections were like cast shadows, and therefore would be the color of the object on which the shadow was cast, with some local color from the object. Is this different because water, unlike other objects, is reflective, like a mirror? Sorry for stupid question, which is probably obvious to everyone else.

Thanks again for taking the time to help me!

02-03-2010, 12:49 PM
Wow, you lot have been busy! I thought I posted a reply yesterday but it seems to not be here. I have chosen a vertical crop for the tree reflections one as it focuses on the tall tree and it's reflection and I can bring in the lovely water in the foreground. I'm hoping to start on that one tomorrow.
Chuas, you're a little hard on yourself! Don has given you (and me) great advice though.

02-03-2010, 01:25 PM
Thank you Don, that is very helpful. I'm going to try this and will repost, providing I can remove enough of the former color. I find it's a bit difficult to do this on Colourfix...

Something I don't understand though, I thought reflections were like cast shadows, and therefore would be the color of the object on which the shadow was cast, with some local color from the object. Is this different because water, unlike other objects, is reflective, like a mirror? Sorry for stupid question, which is probably obvious to everyone else.

Thanks again for taking the time to help me!

Water is indeed like a mirror when calm. The colors in the reflection are essentially the same color as the original object. A very generalized approach to the reflections is that they are usually slightly darker than the original object. Sometimes very dark objects reflect slightly lighter. In reality the value of the reflections can vary a great deal depending on the angle of the sunlight to the scene, whether there is mist on the water and a whole bunch of factors. And last but not least, you as the artist can modify the darkness (and the colors) of the reflections by how important they are in the painting and how much you want to emphasize them.

Now, if the water has it's own strong color (a muddy river or pond, for example) then that color might be influential or even dominant.

That's why it is always best to observe closely and not get too hung up on "rules".

Now, even though mirror-like reflections are usually a slightly different value than the original object, I must say that I usually use the same pastel to do both the original objects and the reflections, since it is already in my hand and I can paint both at the same time! If needed, I might modify the value of the reflection later!

Hope this helps!


02-03-2010, 04:23 PM
good advice, Don...Having not gotten too hung up on 'rules', here is my rendition of the tall pine tree


Using mostly soft pastels, on balck paper.. approx..9x12
C&C always aprreciated

02-03-2010, 04:58 PM
Great one Judibelle! Misty and mysterious. That's what I'll be aiming for too. Think I'd better get a move on with this one!

02-03-2010, 05:09 PM
I'm enjoying seeing how everyone is approaching their various subjects with the cropping and execution! These certainly aren't easy landscape images to paint, what with all the reflections in the water and all! :D

For giggles and grins, I went and did the same photo in both landscape and square formats. I wanted to try all 3 using the same format with the challenge to see if I could make them work. I knew immediately I liked the portrait format the best, and after completing these other studies (that are now in the trash), that didn't change. It was a really great exercise.

First is the notan study I did of the landscape orientation. I moved some elements around to keep it from being really dull compositionally, namely - extending the small peninnsula past the middle and bringing the main pine tree back. So, that improved it. But, for some reason, I shifted everything over on the actual painting.


Here's the study, also 5x7, done on the worst sandpaper I have - 3M 220-grit sandpaper. Despite its tooth, it doesn't hold the pastel well, and even moderate tapping causes much of the pigment to fly off. Done with NuPastels. The main tree ended up being too close to the center. It's in the trashcan.

Finally, here's the square version:
5x5", Nupastels. I adjusted the composition a bit to add space and extend the distal hills to try and break up the the tree masses a bit. Might work okay with more planning. I started to get impatient trying to push the pigment into the paper, so the trees in particular look unfinished. Nice bare halos around the trees, eh? It's also in the trash.


Aside from the challenge of experimenting with all 3 formats, it was good practice doing the water and reflections multiple times. If I was going to do one of these as a keeper, I'd definitely choose the portrait format and make it a bigger size and maybe play around with the tree shapes/positions/sizes to see if that might improve it even more.

Thanks again for hosting this, Don, and providing the great photos to choose from. I'll look forward to seeing the rest of the month's postings by everyone :).

02-03-2010, 05:15 PM
Sonya, I completely agree that the portrait format is the one for this ref but, in the trash!! Are you mad? The water/reflections in both are wonderfully done!

02-03-2010, 05:20 PM
Sonya, I totally agree with Ruthie. The trashcan? Both the study and the first painting are beautiful!

Judi, absolutely lovely painting! You're doing better without goals :lol:

Don, thank you again for that explanation plus the water demo. Great stuff! Now if I can free myself from the trap that I call "work" I can get to my studio to paint and try everything! :(

02-03-2010, 05:52 PM
I love this......

I have taken the photo of the canoes (they might be kayaks but you know what I mean). Lots of water put I'll try anything once;)

Did some thumbnails looking at different set-ups. I think I'm going to try #1 full size. #3 is also interesting but I don't know how I would manage that much water in the top part of the painting.

All done with charcoal and light grey pastel pencil on off-white cartridge paper.


#1 - 6 x 14.5 cm
#2 - 12 x 7 cm
#3 - 12 x 6 cm with subject lower in frame


02-03-2010, 06:55 PM
Ruthie and Chuas - you both are sweet to say that :). But, really, the paper is awful, and the pastel won't stay put on it. The reflections are certainly the most redeeming part of those paintings, and really were excellent practice, but I hadn't intended to keep them anyway. I did keep the vertical one, though ;).

Deaglan - I think I like #1 best as well, but it's hard to decide. Each study offers its own interesting perspective. Looking forward to seeing how this looks in color :) .

Oh, Chuas - FWIW, I basically used the technique that Don described for the reflections (and those in the image you did are definitely more challenging than those in the photo I used) - basically scribbled the tree shapes in, roughly, using some dark value color. I found it also helps a lot to then turn the image sideways because that will show you how much the reflection shapes are off - they should mirror pretty closely the basic shape and position of the actual trees. I then scumbled various colors over the basic shapes to approximate some of the color variations, and then used the lighter base color for the water, scribbling it in, side to side, against the tree reflections. I then took that same pastel and made reflection lines through the darker areas, and went back with the darker pastel as needed to adjust the shape/lines, particularly along the distal ends of the trees. I don't know if that makes any sense, or if you'll find it helpful, but it seemed to work okay...and got a lot easier by the third try, too!:lol:

02-03-2010, 07:38 PM
Wow! Great paintings and sketches!

Judi - Great sense of atmosphere and I can feel that mist rising on the lake!

Sonya - The notan is very nice compositionally! And the paintings are nice, too! The mist in the 5x7 is very nice! I think the slightly horizontal (5x7) works pretty well!

Deaglan - The sketches show how the different formats really change the painting, in my opinion. To me, the kayaks look like they are really moving in the long horizontal format!


02-04-2010, 01:42 AM
Hi all:wave: :wave: :wave:

Threre a lot of realy great painting being done here well done to you all.

this is my attemped at the mist on the lake i did mine portrait as i felt it help with the feeling of mystique.

Soft Pastels on burgundy Fabriano pastel paper (8"x 10")
:clap: :clap: :clap:

02-04-2010, 04:03 AM
Deaglan, I like no1 but I'm als drawn to no 3. It would need to be a bit wider I think though to give the boats room to move if you know what I mean.
Graham, good one. I like that crop and love the cool colours you've used.
I'm off to do my first one now!

02-04-2010, 07:05 AM
Here's my first one. Done in portrait but I decided to flip it to see how it compared. 5x7 on La Carte. What do you think?


02-04-2010, 08:57 AM
Graham, Very nice! Thanks for posting! I like your crop! I think by having the tree farther towards the edge, it puts more emphasis on the clouds and the atmosphere - at least that's how I see it. Nice color scheme!

Ruthie, Very nice, too! Every aspect is well done! Nice contrast between the very dark trees and the lighter atmosphere!


Deborah Secor
02-04-2010, 06:35 PM
May I add a couple hints about painting reflections, not meant to inhibit anyone from pure experimentation, of course, but grist for the mill?

In reflection dark values shift slightly lighter, light values shift slightly darker and medium values remain about the same. Thus in reflection there's not as much contrast of values.

The angle of incidence = the angle of reflection. Thus reflections are technically not longer than the thing reflected. So turn your painting on its side and view it like a Rorschach test! That will help you see if the reflections line up properly (not slanted) and are about the same length. You need to paint a reflection of what is in your painting, not what you see in the photo... However, keep in mind that if the object is set back away from the water line the reflection may only show the top portion of it.

Still water is like a mirror. Ripples are like two mirrors, one on each side of the ripple.

I think you all are doing very well... Love the fun sense of experimentation I see here. Keep going!!

I think format can be greatly influenced by the scale of the work. Sometimes a big painting seems to be able to 'get away' with compositional things when a small painting can't. That's one of the problems we have here at WC. EVERYTHING is reduced to small scale when we view it. It makes us hyper-critical of composition, when standing in front of a painting we might have a very different response. Just my 2 cents!


02-04-2010, 08:25 PM
Thanks Don.

02-04-2010, 10:28 PM
Great pictures! As a beginner I am a little scare of landscapes, but I think I will give one of those a try!

02-05-2010, 12:12 AM
Thanks Deborah for your comments!

Kathleen, you're welcome!

SunFace, feel free to crop to any size or shape, if that helps make the landscapes less intimidating! Don't forget, there are a couple non-landscape ref photos, too, including (perhaps) the cutest little puppy dog ever!


02-05-2010, 06:53 AM
Sunface, this thread is a *really* safe place to try a landscape.

Reflections: Choppy water shows longer reflections, but they are more and more broken the further away they get from the object. Totally agree with Deborah on reflections generally getting lighter darks and darker lights. Length of reflection is also affected by where the watcher stands, if at 'sealevel' or on top of a hill looking down. (I *think* they get longer the higher up you are, but I'm not sure.)

Charlie (who starts her today)

02-05-2010, 12:34 PM
Thank you for the tips, Sonya, Deborah and Charlie. I did make some changes on my original, and it's marginally better, but still looks bad. I'm going to give it a third (or fourth) try and then may try it again on a different photo for a "fresh" perspective (and because my paper is starting to look a little ravaged). :(

02-06-2010, 06:23 AM
I love what every one has painted so far it is inspirational looking at what other people can achieve.

I had a lot of fun doing this, the first photo is closer to the colours I can see in real life but the second one is the crop that I wanted, the cropped photo is about 14"x5".



I have a few Asian paintings done in this long thin shape and love them I'm not sure if it works for things other than mount Fuji and dragons??

I had no expectations with this and I'm just happy that the tree looks like a tree :) so any lessons I can learn from this try I would love for you to tell me.

Thanks Deborah.

02-06-2010, 10:30 AM
Deborah, I think this works splendidly! I love the thin vertical crop! You have captured the mood and atmosphere of the sunrise!


02-06-2010, 04:45 PM
Ok, here is another stab at water. Still looks bad, and not like water. Tried to follow Don's suggestions, but I found the colors in this every hard to pin down. Since it's reflected sunlight, I kept getting distracted by the value and couldn't "see" the colors.

But I'll try it again, and again, and again....

Also, this paper has been tortured, and you can see a lot of marks and scratches on it. Time for the trash bin I think.

White Wallis, Schmincke, Terry Ludwig and Sennelier pastels.


02-06-2010, 05:03 PM
Hi Chuas!

I think your painting is looking quite good! The water definitely looks like water! And I think you have done a nice job with the subtle pinks and purples of the sky and the mist. You didn't ask for critique, so I would just say that the one area to double check would be the value of the mist on the left side!

All in all - nicely done!


02-06-2010, 06:06 PM
I have been enjoying following this thread......and watching the variations ......apologies for not commenting ... ........ limited time so decided to try pastel no 2 instead

Coated the rough side of W&N CP WC paper with clear fine tooth colorfix primer... started with Rowney square and Nupastel then first touch of my sennelier at the end .

Got the figures all out of proportion with the canoes and the size of teh paper.. which was rougher than I anticipated which was OK for water... but not figures detail...... so it ended up cropped much tighter than I intended.... I meant there to be much more water in fromt of much slimmer boats !!! 10.5 x 6 "

C&C always very welcome


02-06-2010, 06:26 PM
I tried this one 16x9 horizontal, since no one else had yet. It focuses more on the sky than the reflection. It is on canson mi-teintes paper. C&C wlecome!


Deborah Secor
02-06-2010, 06:35 PM
Looks like a nice one to me, Janet! Like you, little time to comment, but I'm enjoying what I see.

I had a an hour in my studio. (Whoo hoo!!!) I worked on another painting, and then decided to dash off something fun. I turned your Adirondack stream into a New Mexico version, Don. It was just crying for the mountains when I noodled with the pic in PSE.


On Sienna Pastelmat, 5x11", done in a half hour. FUN!!! Thanks--I needed that.


02-06-2010, 08:25 PM
Got the figures all out of proportion with the canoes and the size of teh paper.. which was rougher than I anticipated which was OK for water... but not figures detail...... so it ended up cropped much tighter than I intended.... I meant there to be much more water in front of much slimmer boats !!! 10.5 x 6 "

C&C always very welcome

I really like this! To me, the horizontal format works very well to accentuate the horizontal movement of the kayaks! Even though you mention that it is cropped tighter than intended, it works for me, as you have left some open water for the kayaks to travel into!

You've really captured the sunlight glinting on the water! Kayaks come in different sizes, so the proportions look OK!


02-06-2010, 08:30 PM
I tried this one 16x9 horizontal, since no one else had yet. It focuses more on the sky than the reflection. It is on canson mi-teintes paper. C&C wlecome!

Hi Jessica! Very nicely done! The horizontal crop you have chosen looks good, and does indeed put more emphasis on the sky. You've shown that we don't need the reflection at all in this format - that the silhouetted trees make a strong statement on their own!

Thanks for joining us here in the Spotlight!


02-06-2010, 08:32 PM
I had a an hour in my studio. (Whoo hoo!!!) I worked on another painting, and then decided to dash off something fun. I turned your Adirondack stream into a New Mexico version, Don. It was just crying for the mountains when I noodled with the pic in PSE.


Hi Deb!

Wow! A southwest flavor to my Adirondack pic! Nice!


02-07-2010, 05:52 AM
Deborah, the long narrow format works really well and I really like the atmosphere you've achieved with this.
Chuas, your water DOES look like water, another atmospheric piece.
Jaytee, you've chosen a similar crop to me for this one, although I have yet to do it. Love the light and I have to say the lack of detail on the figures matters not at all.
Jessica. I like your horizontal crop. That mist looks really ominous!
Deborah, fabulous loose strokes as usual. Love the rock!

Mary Y
02-07-2010, 07:17 AM
This is such an interesting thread.There are lots of great paintings and I love the different layouts. I am enjoying all the posts here and learning a lot from everyones paintings and replies.
I hope I can paint one of these lovely reference pics before the month end.

02-07-2010, 12:12 PM
Started on the cute puppy dog today and thought I'd put it on as a WIP. decided to do it square but move the pup more to the RH corner.
This is 8x8 on la carte.
I started by sketching him out - quite an easy subject as he's basically a triangle. I used the colours pretty much as I saw and blocked in the values loosely.


Then I worked on the "grass" by going over with about 6 different colours, on their sides, very roughly and creating some lighter/darker areas within the grass.


Then I started to work on the detail. Here I've pretty much done the face and the chest, working on the back of the head and downwards now.


Then I had to stop :( because it was lunch time. This is about an hour's work and I'll work on him again tomorrow.

Any C&C appreciated.

02-07-2010, 02:43 PM

This is coming along great! Thanks for showing the WIP steps!


Tracy Lang
02-07-2010, 06:12 PM
Thanks for hosting, Don and for the wonderful selection of reference pics!
I'm enjoying seeing all the interpretations.
I cropped and chose a vertical comp. I liked the water leading in to the painting. I also tried Paula's great tree demo as I am "landscape challenged" :lol: This is 11 x14 on Richeson, various sticks.

Off to make some Superbowl snacks!


Vivien Maloney
02-07-2010, 06:46 PM
I've been watching the new "Spotlight" thread with real interest and it looks as if it's going to be really great.
Some good ideas already. Interesting to see the different formats, and everyones interpretation of the photos.
Here's mine; 6in x 9in, sketch. Tried different formats and liked this vertical one best, also added more leaves down the bottom for balance.
Sketch took 45mins

C & Cs welcome

Kathryn Wilson
02-07-2010, 08:11 PM
Decided to join in -

This is on reclaimed Wallis - 3 1/2 x 9" - 20 min. sketch. The corners are taped and they show in the photo.

I chose the panoramic format because it shows off the length of the lake and shoreline


02-07-2010, 08:21 PM
This exercise is great I am learning so much, even new computer and camera skills :)

The only thought I had ever had of one day painting a flower was to paint lotus flowers also I don't really like orange flowers so I found this a good test of just copying without imposing my ideas of what I think it should look like.



Thanks again for the chance to join in and learn, it is fantastic looking at everyones work!!

Cheers Deborah.

02-07-2010, 10:56 PM
Tracy - Nicely done! The vertical format does seem to put more emphasis on the river leading into the painting.

Vivien - This is nice! Those flowers really pop out of that dark green background!

Kathryn - Thanks for joining in! I always like the wide panoramic format!

Deborah - I like this close-up crop! The flower really stands out from the blurry background!

Great work everybody!


02-08-2010, 03:47 PM
OOh, more good stuff on here today. I haven't been able to get on all day. Has the site been down?
Anyway, finished the Pup so here he is.


Kathryn Wilson
02-08-2010, 04:41 PM
Maybe if WC were down each day for a few hours, we'd all get our artwork done and accomplish the delightful paintings we are seeing here now!

Ruthie, lovely puppie.

02-08-2010, 04:51 PM
I've finished Misty Lake, but need daylight to photo and noodle with the 'puter.

Looking at all your great crops and paintings:

Deborah (inmy...), the long crop really puts that tree as the star of the show, in the misty lake. The flowers (lilies?) got an interesting crop, clearly making one of the flowers the star.

Chuas, fab water in the misty lake, like the crop.

JayTee, great sparkle, and the crop works really well, feels to me like horizontal is the only one that really will work with this image.

Jessica, Hi! Starring the silhouette and sky, with this crop, works well.

Deborah, New Mexico version is great, it really works wonderfully with this long format, and the lone rock rocks!

Ruthie, he's adorable! This crop places his face in focus, and the sense is that he's looking back (as we 'read' a painting from left to right). Gorgeous fur, you have to do a fur-demo, you're *really* good at fur!

Tracy, this works so well, in all aspects. You've showed you're no longer landscape challenged!

Viv, it works great, and such a gorgeous glow to the flowers!

Kathryn, wonderful making it your own. Clearly about length, silhouette, and glowing sky!


02-08-2010, 05:23 PM

Love the puppy!! I like the crop. You've given him lots of room to look into and (perhaps more subtle) the amount of room above him accentuates his small puppiness! (At least that is the way I look at it!)


Vivien Maloney
02-08-2010, 06:56 PM
Looks like we are back on again! How scary to go down - I clicked on everything in sight and thought it was my computer! Thank goodness it wasn't. Didn't realise how much I would miss Wet Canvas until I couldn't get it! However we are back on again (heartfelt sigh of thanks!)

02-09-2010, 07:58 AM
Thanks Charlie! Don, I had thought of almost fitting him into the bottom RH 1/2 of a square crop but on my sketch it just didn't look right, so I kept him in a similar position but made him bigger to extend more into the square. I was pleased with how it worked. When I started out doing pet portraits the animal was always the centre of the comp. Nothing wrong with that but nothing wrong with ringing the changes either.

I see there are some gorgeous Lilies and landscapes on here. I think they have all worked very well. Will have to try those two but they are my least favourites. The lilies as I don't really like the colour and the landscape as it's too darn difficult!

But I did the canoeists this morning. Took me about an hour. No surprise about the crop. This is about 10x5 1/2 on la carte.


02-09-2010, 08:06 AM
Hi guys,

I played in PSE with several crops of the Misty Lake picture. Several crops work really well, as has been shown in this thread by other artists. I'm trying to learn composition, so I ask myself some questions, as they help me crop and rearrange.

a) what is the attraction to me? What would I want to show?
-- In this case, the 'ambience', the feeling of looking at that sunrise over that lake.
b) where are the strong shapes?
-- Clearly the silhouette of the little cape, especially the 'star tree'.

OK, so I know that "ambience" and "star tree" have to be important elements.

c) how to place these elements within the four edges of a picture. Which format supports Ambience and Tree best?
-- noodling in PSE, I quickly found that for my purposes, either a vertical that is rather wide, or a square, would be best. I really wanted to keep the reflections, and I found that the wavelets with some darker parts at the bottom of the photo helped to give a sense of depth, so I wanted to keep those too, therefore the horizontals were out, for me, this time. Nearly all crops presented *some* problem, like putting the tree in the middle vertical, or having the tongue of land ending in a point exactly in the middle of the painting.

So, I chose to crop a litte from the top, and the left side. Then I shortened the bit of land, putting the tree in the third. It isn't disturbing to me that the bottom line of the tongue is exactly on the middle horizontal half, as the emphasis is higher up, and as the mist blurs the line considerably.

The grid shows what to usually avoid, the black Union Jack pattern, and what to make use of -- the TickTackToe pattern. Placing the center of interest somewhere around any of the four intersections (red marks), is usually a good idea.

size 30x30cm, 12x12"
PanPastels only, on light grey Clairefontaine PastelMat.

Ummm, I 'upped' the colour, a wee bit.

With grid:

And without:

Really tricky to photograph (it is sharper IRL, for example), but this pic is a halfway decent approximation of how the painting looks.

C&C always welcome.


02-09-2010, 11:08 AM
Charlie, WOW!!! I love your clear explanation of what to avoid especially in square formats and the Rule of Three -- your painting is amazing! I love the way you created a beautiful warm dawn and used Pan Pastels to give it that soft glowing look. You've used all the good colors and made them leap to natural life with rich light! It's wonderful.

I've been waiting for this, wondering what you'd do, now that I see it the painting is nothing like what I expected and utterly spectacular! You're full of surprises!

02-09-2010, 11:31 AM
WOW is right, this is stunning Charlie! And many thanks for sharing your analytical fore-thought. This in itself is admirable, and obviously worth it!

Ruthie, also LOVE yours! Really like the way you did the people (something I'm not brave enough to do). Lots of movement!

02-09-2010, 12:13 PM
Ruth - Another great painting! I like the long horizontal! You've given the boats lots of room to move into! You've captured the water wonderfully including those glints of sunlight! The boats and figures are well done, too, with just the right amount of suggested detail!

Charlie - Thank you for your thought process and analysis! And your painting is wonderful! Great sense of sunlight and atmosphere!


02-09-2010, 12:24 PM
Thanks Chuas!

Charlie. That's lovely! You've made the best possible use of the square crop i think. Thanks for explaining how you came to that.

Don. Thank you! I'm glad you think the figures/boats look OK. I've absolutely never done anything like this before but I made myself appraoch it in the only way you can really, marks and shapes, colour and value....didn't think of them as people and boats. While it's not perfect I'm quite pleased with it for a first!

02-09-2010, 12:32 PM
Wow - there ar too many posts and paintings to comment on each individually, but I just wanted to say that I'm really enjoying seeing the paintings and how the individual style and cropping choice has made them all so unique and fun to look at!

This new monthly thread was a really great idea and I'm glad to see it's so popular. :)


02-09-2010, 12:47 PM
Ruthie, that is gorgeous, a perfect crop, and wonderfully painted!

Guys, thank you! I cringe everytime I see the photo of the painting, but I can not make it better, not without re-painting it in PSE...

Robert, as my Pan palette is so limited, I've even used a few of the earths in this. (Oilpainters can mix any colour from the chromatic ones, so I've found I need to 'cheat' a little bit, with warm earths. Sometimes a girl needs a dark muted yellowy colour.)

Chuas, a few moments of pre-planning saves an hour of re-doing, later.

Don, this is why I like the square format, it sometimes really solves compositional problems. Here I got both depth and width, and made the tree an element in the painting but not entirely dominating.


02-09-2010, 02:27 PM
Thanks Charlie!
I love this thread. It's so inspiring!
"Mum" day tomorrow so no painting but I'll tackle one of those others on Thurs......

02-09-2010, 03:41 PM
I'm glad you think the figures/boats look OK. I've absolutely never done anything like this before but I made myself approach it in the only way you can really, marks and shapes, colour and value....didn't think of them as people and boats.
Which is the way to approach pretty much every painting!


02-09-2010, 04:52 PM
Ruthie, your kayakers are magnificent! I forgot to comment on them last time, please forgive me on that. They look much, much better on the big screen but even on the small screen your elegant composition came through well and the natural look of the water did too. Love the way you did that.

Charlie, wow again! The colors are truer on the big screen, so I've got an even better idea of how your Pans landscape looks. That is so gorgeous. Thanks again for the lesson and the tip on using warm earths for the darker range of yellow. I like doing that too sometimes. Darkening with black always heads toward green and it's nice to have that dark yellowy color in its accurate value too.

02-09-2010, 05:20 PM
Which is the way to approach pretty much every painting!


Yes and I am so glad I learned that early on. It's saved me a lot of heartache over the last year!

Thank you Robert and of course you are forgiven :) When you say big screen does that mean you have your new PC?

02-09-2010, 06:45 PM
Don. Thank you! I'm glad you think the figures/boats look OK. I've absolutely never done anything like this before but I made myself appraoch it in the only way you can really, marks and shapes, colour and value....didn't think of them as people and boats. While it's not perfect I'm quite pleased with it for a first!
I can't believe you haven't been doing figures for years! Even more impressive. You go girl!!:clap:

02-10-2010, 03:55 PM
Ruthie, your male figure is supberb!

02-10-2010, 07:46 PM
I have been lurking for a while and figured i better get involved before the month is over. So many paintings to comment on, so I just want to say this is a very interesting and educational thread. Great crops and very interesting comments. This has opened my eyes to using different sizes and formats. I have been working on a painting today that is far from my regular format. I hope to finish and post it tomorrow.


02-10-2010, 11:25 PM
Yep, my new HP notebook is here. Coming from a 10" netbook screen that had great color compared to the previous laptop, to a 17" screen in full glorious color is a treat for my eyes. Everyone's paintings look so much better. So do the references, I can't wait to get started on doing one of these.

I cut a square piece of PastelMat in light gray when I butchered the damaged sheet to have some small ones and some practice pieces, so I think I'll try the square format on one of the references.

02-11-2010, 02:55 AM

Thanks for organising the Spotlight, Don- I'd really like to have a go at it too. I've just enrolled in a pastels class at my local art centre and I'm very keen to begin.

Can I just say thank you, also, to both yourself and Chuas- I've learnt a lot from the postings.

At the moment I haven't looked past page 2 of the forum so I can't comment on anything else but I do really love Jean's painting- beautiful!


02-11-2010, 03:07 AM
Okay...now I've looked at all 7 pages and read the different comments made by all and sundry. Thank you, everyone! I've learnt a fair bit already. I'll have a play around with one of the photos over the weekend and see what I come up with. Thanks again Don.

02-11-2010, 10:43 AM
Well, I've done a few landscapes now. I have no problem with sky really and I love doing water and reflections. Foliage, well that's another thing. So it was with trepidation that I started the Adirondack one. All that foliage :(

I decided on portrait for this as I thought it may mean less foliage and more focus on the water! No really I was just more drawn to that crop.

I loved the bush with the red berries in the left foreground so thought I'd give that a go too.

Anyway, I've worked on it all day and I do believe it is by far the best landscape I've done :thumbsup:

So thank you Don for this thread. I love challenges!

C&C is very welcome. Just because it's my best doesn't mean I think it's perfect!

Next challenge is to try to develop some sort of style with landscape so I can put some of me into them instead of just copying the ref.


02-11-2010, 12:19 PM
Ruthie, that's gorgeous! I love the red berries, that's so elegant. Beautiful water treatment and rocks. The deep darks of the trees are great. Everything on this is lovely, I don't have any suggestions.

02-11-2010, 12:58 PM
Fantastic job, Ruthie! You did a bang-up job on the water and reflections. It's not always easy to resist the urge to paint individual trees in a case like this, but you did a great job there, too! Definitely a painting to be pround of :).

02-11-2010, 01:54 PM
These aren't pretty, but they're functional. Some thumbnail composition sketches or notans, in black or monochrome, with one color study at the bottom right. Done from the first photo that was the example of different layouts. Basically working out how to set up square formats to look good.

8 1/2" x 11"
Color Conte on white sketchbook paper.

An ugly accident in the middle of doing this page resulted in most of my color Conte sticks breaking up, some into useful sizes and others into four or more very tiny bits. I'm very annoyed about having to replace the set, though I'll naturally still keep using any pieces large enough to hold. I might have to switch to my Richeson hard pastels for more sketching.

If you're going to break your sticks, do it on purpose and right in the middle...

02-11-2010, 02:01 PM
Ruthie, it's wonderful! You can paint anything!

Robert, oooooo, that hurts, breaking them. Have you tested 'gluing' the pieces together with water? If they are big enough to handle....


02-11-2010, 02:49 PM
Ruthie- Beautiful. You have to do more landscapes. Great trees and I love the water. You did a fantastic job on all of your paintings.

Robert- Ouch. Use what you can. I never thought of glueing them with water. I usually break my FC Polys into thirds. I like to have some small pieces for shading with the side in tight spots. Good idea with your sketches.

Well, here is my first attempt in The Spotlight. I had a scrap piece of Wallis and thought I would try to use it, so I looked at the photos and picked the one I thought might work. I think the crop puts the focus on the tree and reflection and not so much the fog. Anyway, it is on 4 x 12 white Wallis and I used mostly Terry Ludwig and Great American pastels. I used SpetraFix and I really like it. You can layer over colours without worrying about making mud.

Thanks for looking. Any and all c & c are welcome.



02-11-2010, 03:17 PM
Doug, I love this crop for focusing attention on the tree and it's reflection! Can I dare to say that the reflection of the tree looks a little long to me and I feel it should be a little darker. Love the sky and water colours.

Robert, thank you! Looking at this on screen it seems a little bland to me. It really looks better in real life (at least I think it does...it did this afternoon...too dark to go back to the studio and have a look now).
Interesting sketches. The first appeals to me most, 'tho, as usual, I can't say why! Let us know how you get on if you try "glueing" the sticks back together with water.

Charlie. Thank you for your comment. I WANT to paint everything but I also want to avoid being a jack of all trades, master of none!

Sonya. Thanks! That is where I went wrong to start with. I wanted to put in the same detail as I do when doing an animal picture and everything looked so stilted and unreal. I'm starting to realise that I must respect the viewer and know that they can work things out for themselves. I'm not there yet though. This looks too much like the photo to me.

And I've just noticed that the reflection of the clouds is lighter than the clouds themselves. Now that must mean my lightest blue violet is lighter than my rembrandt white!! Will have to take the BV up into the sky.

02-11-2010, 04:51 PM
Doug, absolutely gorgeous sparkle of reds and greens in the water! You made this your own, with wonderful colours, and a crop that really stars the tree.

Ruthie, you'll always be a specialist in the kind of paintings that speak to your heart (wildlife), but you can be competent in other subjects.

Is your lightest blue violet a different brand? Let's say it is a Unison, then it will definitely show up as lighter than white *in a photo*, as Unisons reflect lots of light, while Rembs don't. Look at it IRL, before changing things.


02-11-2010, 04:57 PM
This is my take on the Adirondak Lake picture. I chose to go with a landscape crop because I really wanted to get as much mist into the picture as possible. It's still on my easel, so if there is anything that jumps out at you which requires more work please let me know. It's done on Wallis Belgian Mist with mostly Terry Ludwig, Great American and Mount Vision. 16 x 20

Now that I have posted it, I see that the top right corner is askew.

02-11-2010, 05:10 PM
Carol, that's gorgeous! I love the mist, beautiful!
Charlie. Yes the Blue violet is a unison. I did use it in the sky too but put a little white in the clouds to make them lighter. I'll check it out in real life tomorrow. May add a few strokes of the schminke white maybe if the sky indeed looks duller.

02-11-2010, 06:08 PM
Carol, that's gorgeous even if the photo did fade out a little of the corner. I love the way you did the mist. I've got my eye on that reference too, haven't decided which of them I'm going to do. Maybe I'll do more notans tonight and work out a square version.

Doug, wow! Your tall thin crop is beautiful and the colors grab me so much. It's a perfect sunset! Agree with Ruthie about darkening the reflection a bit, though the colors in it are so great and you got the water looking so glorious.

All the different versions of these are so exciting. I'll have to add one of my own soon.

02-11-2010, 07:08 PM
Carol- Your painting did what you wanted it to do. The fog is thick, but it is floating. I think the crop works very well.

Ruthie- Thanks for your comments and yes, I agree about the tree reflection. Can you tell I am a colour geek?:evil: I will darken it.

Charlie- You are the one who opened my eyes to colour. Thanks for your kind words.

Robert- I am glad the colours grabbed you. I guess I did things backwards, because I had a piece of paper and looked for something that would fit it. If it works I shouldn't complain, eh?


02-11-2010, 07:18 PM
Rebecca (beckyboo) - Welcome! We look forward to seeing your paintings!

Ruth - Beautiful landscape. No critiques from me. A couple thoughts about the whiteness of the clouds in the reflection. Both the clouds and the sky near the bottom of the painting are reflected from higher in the sky than we can see in the painting, so I wouldn't worry too much about comparing those clouds to the clouds in your painting. Plus the sky up high (and in your reflection) is darker and bluer, which will make the cloud reflections look lighter anyway due to the greater contrast. Plus, I am a firm believer that rules (or reality) can - and often should be - manipulated to create the emphasis you want in your painting. In other words, exaggerate the contrast in the reflection (within limits) if you want more emphasis on the reflection, even if it doesn't quite follow the "rules". If you want more emphasis on the clouds - exaggerate the contrast there. That's just my opinion.

Robert - Thumbnails are a great way to work out the format and other compositional issues! Sorry to hear about your smashed pastels. I have a box of 25 giraults that have the same broken bits when I dropped them a couple years ago!

Doug - Very nice painting! Love the extreme crop! Great colors!

Carol - Wonderful painting! The mist is great! Love the sky, too and the detail of the trees!

Hope I didn't miss anybody!


02-11-2010, 07:38 PM
dittoeing Don....Such beautiful work. And Robert...a good reminder to me, who usually does not take the time for the notans, to do so.
Doug so glad you got yours done...the colors are really neat.
Ruth and Carol...Your landscapes are just lovely.

Vivien Maloney
02-11-2010, 10:46 PM
Great work from everybody. Interesting to see the different crops we've all used.

Carol; Beautiful painting - you can feel the mist.

Doug; Love your crop and the colours you've used.

02-11-2010, 11:24 PM
Prompted by another thread, I did a fast pastel pencil sketch of the second reference with the beautiful waterscape, centering it on that big dark pine.

Pines and Water
5 1/2" x 8 1/2"
Cretacolor pastel pencils
Canson mi-Tientes "Bisque" mid-brown color, smooth side.

Limited palette: Permanent White, Ivory Black, Paynes Grey, Light Blue, Green Earth Dark, Olive Green Light, Ivory. Seven pastel pencils.

Fifteen minute sketch to see if I could get the gist of something beautiful down in a short enough time using pastel pencils that I could use them plein air. The fifteen minutes did include prying the pencils out of the elastic bands of their leather case.

I was just trying to work quickly and get to the point where I'd be able to understand it when I got home. I've had the embarrassment of doing plein air sometimes in colored pencils or something and found scribbles I couldn't make sense of in my sketchbook.

It's also a preliminary sketch and a test for that crop, which was fun.

02-12-2010, 07:56 AM
Interesting crop Robert. Must say that pine does draw the eye even in the full square ref.
Thanks Don. I've checked out the sky and it DOES look lighter than the water in real life so I'll leave it be. And you are right about the reflections coming from the sky above which we can't see and which would indeed appear bluer.
I've only got the flower one to go now and may do some little sketches like Robert did as I can't decide on the best crop. I like the ones that went before in this thread but see if I can do something different.

Vivien Maloney
02-12-2010, 11:06 PM
Robert; great sketch and yes the Pine has got "Centre Stage". I know the feeling of doing a "Plein Air" Sketch, with great enthusiasum. only to get home and find I've not enough information in the sketch - how embarrasing! But it happens to us all, at some stage. It seems to happen to me more than others.

02-12-2010, 11:12 PM
Vivien, thanks! That happened last summer when I went up to Mt. Petit Jean and got all those photos. I had photos but I didn't have usable sketches, partly because of how I was doing them. I used something like pencils, it might have been my pastel pencils. Now I know better -- block in masses! Get color close and general masses, details will come out right on the photo in the wrong colors.

This year's plein airs will be a whole lot better!

Well, my preliminaries continue! Just because the last one was a vertical crop doesn't mean that my final painting will be vertical. I looked at that sketch, cropped with my hands and decided I liked it -- if I got it balanced just right.

So I did a square crop on the photo reference and copy-pasted it into another file as follows. This way I don't have the distraction of the whole reference when I get down to doing this simplified landscape. This is what I usually do if I don't actually draw notans, just drag the rectangular selection across the reference to the shape I want and move it around till I have something that looks good to me.


It's not as big but it's not as complicated. (If anyone else wants to use my crop, enjoy!)

Then with that to work from, I did a notan and a quick little color study in color Conte. Some of the value shifts in the sky on the notan dropped out a bit in the scan, but you can sort of see the shape of the clouds. My light gray is much more visible offline and the actual notan's more useful. However, I know I can't go quite that light on the sky if I want it to scan, so I learned something from the scan problem.

Dark Pine River Notan and Color Thumbnail
Approx. 3" square each
Color Conte on white sketchbook paper.

Fortunately I still have usable size pieces of all the colors, though the dark green was a little hard to handle. I'm going to have to try water-splicing on the tiniest bits to get them stuck onto a bigger piece and not waste them, these are way too expensive. Or I suppose I could powder the smallest pieces, then apply them with a Sofft sponge or chamois or finger for smudging in color areas on sketches. I'll find something to do with them.

This is the crop I've decided on for doing a good one on the square piece of PastelMat.

02-12-2010, 11:48 PM

Sometimes by zooming in on a wider scene you can find a nice composition hiding within! Good to see your preliminary sketches, notans and thumbnails!


02-14-2010, 07:30 PM
What great work.

Robert, as always I love your line work. :clap:

Doug, I love your colors. :clap:

Devonlass, your piece is amazing. :clap:

Well, here is my take on one of the pictures. I love doing close ups, so I drew the center of one of the flowers.

02-14-2010, 10:47 PM
Hi Maria,

I was just mentioning zooming in - in response to the last post - and here you have given us another great example! Nice!


02-15-2010, 03:18 PM
Nice one Maria! Haven't yet started on my lily sketches but I'm picking up some tips!

02-15-2010, 07:29 PM
Maria, that's beautiful. I love the colors, the way you used little touches of blue-violet in the deeper darks on the flower. Gorgeous!

02-16-2010, 09:21 PM
Everything posted has been great. Love seeing all the works. I so seldom do people so I choose the kayak. Its 7 x 14 on wallis paper. Terry Ludwig, Girualts, NuPastels and some pencils. The wife hated the people, (thats why I don't do them) said they looked cartoonish so this one will get erased and a new painting will take it's place. I did change it up a bit. I was going for kayak raceing. So before it gets brushed off, I decided to post it here for some good old fashion C and C. So lets have it, you can not hurt my feelings. thanks James

02-16-2010, 09:49 PM
Hi James! Thanks for joining us! I like your wide horizontal crop!

The color and the handling of the water is especially nice! One suggestion that might help make the figures less cartoonish is to create more of a value contrast between shadow and light - and then make the shadows more neutral. At least that's my opinion!

Love the sparkles on the water!


02-16-2010, 10:39 PM
Robert- Good idea with the sketches. I makes sense to do some thumbnails before doing a bigger piece, but it's something I don't do enough. I guess you will be able to do more with your new Conte sticks on Friday.:thumbsup:

Maria- I love the flower macro. You did a wonderful job on it. Nice crop.

James- lol Don't you just love critic/ wives. Other relatives as well. Once my daughter said, "I really like your pototoes." Problem was, they were eggs.:lol: Anyway, I think you did a fine job on this. The water looks great and you did better on the people than I ever could.


02-17-2010, 11:21 AM
James, the people look fine, just unfinished. If you haven't scrapped it, don't. I am not kidding.

Look close at the reference. Blow up the part with the people and turn it upside down. Look close at your painting. You have their basic outlines there fine. They look good and the skin tone is all right, a little pinkish but fine. I'm going to get specific now because I have done people, at least their faces, for a living in pastels once.

The biggest hurdle is proportions -- you got that just fine. Pastels aren't a super detail medium, especially people on that scale. So the way to imply all the details you can't draw in is getting the shadow shapes exact and having enough value changes to make them look rounded and three dimensional. You might practice on another sketch even if you did tank this one.

It helps to work upside down so that you forget what the shadow is and that it's a person you're working on. That makes it easier to get the shadow shapes right.

I noticed on the girl's arm that you shaded her with brown, shaded evenly to make her arm a horizontal cylinder. That's why I suggested the upside-down shadows method, because I suspect that's not the shape of the modeling shadows on her arm. Also it would help to cool that brown shadow with blue, the water reflects up into it.

Skin tones are weird that way, they will pick up anything that's around them. Light bouncing off the water will give cooler, purplish or bluish shadows on the underside of anything.

The clothes don't have any modeling shadows. ON the girl, without a color contrasting sleeve, the edge of her sleeve continues the line of her chest and makes it look like her arm is sprouting from her chest. That's a thing like "kissing" and even if it's there in the photo it helps to extend the sleeve just a bit so that it's distinct -- and then get the shadow under the sleeve so that you can see where the sleeve stops and the (shadowed) side of the shirt continues. That'd fix that neatly.

But that's what I mean that it looks unfinished -- there's modeling shadows on only one element, the girl's horizontal arm. For all I know that actually is where her arm shadows are and you got that right (could be, depends on lighting) but the brown is a little too warm. So I'd suggest choosing a blue-violet and very lightly sketching in all the shadows with that blue-violet over what you have. It'll mix in different ways with what's under it. Use a darker version so that it's darker than the blue shirts.

Ah. I didn't notice his extended-arm shadows because they looked better -- you got the shape on that shadow so well that it looked right and my eye didn't spot it as a problem! His leg still looks unmodeled though.

So... don't think of it as bad. Just unfinished. Tell your wife that's a stage and let her see it again when you've tried the upside-down shadowing trick. A deep purplish blue should do the trick, maybe with some brown in another layer -- but if you do that also use the brown (a deep orange) into the shadows on the shirt so that your shadow color stays consistent. That'd also help mute the bright blue shirts, except I think in that lighting they may not be that muted.

Hope this helps!

02-17-2010, 02:31 PM
Thanks Don, Doug and Robert for the advice and encouragements. Robert, I give it another shot with the upside down method, sounds interesting and well worth the try. james

02-17-2010, 05:17 PM
Here is my second offering here........and my third pastel...... the orange lilies in square format. As I cropped it I rotated the image to make what I felt was a more balanced composition and more interesting negative shapes.

I cropped it ages ago... but today was the first time.. since i felt far too ropey to do anything else..... I cut a meeting and painted instead.

Its 6 x 6 inches and on pastelmat.... first time Ive tried this....and chose the terracotta ... I used whatever pastels gave me the closest colour to what I was trying to acheive... am starting to realise why pastelists need so many !!

I took photos along the way as a WIP and would love comments on how I could improve my approach.. where is the best place to post these ?

Anyway here's what I finished up with.. though in daylight I may not feel its finished


Looking at the image on screen I realise Ive lost some spots in the middle lower petal !! I shall put them back in!!!! I laso realise that I have been careless with stroke but not noticed :(

Now I shall go catchup on the rest of the thread :)

02-17-2010, 05:27 PM

This is wonderful! I like the square crop and rotating the flowers was a good idea to fit the square format! The colors are vibrant and the petals have a nice flow and movement!

You can show your WIP steps here if you want, or you can post them (and the finished painting) in our Studio and Gallery thread!


02-17-2010, 05:54 PM
Don....... thankyou......... I had a huge amount of fun.. though teh end was frustrating until I found the bright turquiose ble worked......

I will post in a separate thread so as not to clog up the works as there are quite a few steps.....it took me a long while to work out where Iwas going !!! :)

PS. The thread is HERE (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?p=8540842#post8540842)

I have looked at all the other work here.....most impressive, informative and so fascinating to see how everyone handles their pastels.....quite apart fromteh different crops. Its an excellent excercise....... I almost always crop .. even when I took the original photo wit a painting in mind.....once I get it onto teh screen and have photoshop to hand.. my original intention can sometimes change radically .

Ive also learnt a new word.. 'Notan' in decades of paiting Ive never met it before......is it the same as a thumbnail.. or is it larger.. or does size not matter ?

02-17-2010, 05:58 PM
Finally found some time to do a quick sketch for the spotlight. Great ideas for cropping of the compositions from what I have seen. Great reference photos, Don.

This is a quick 45 minute sketch, 5 x 7 on suede mat board and a variety of pastels.

02-17-2010, 06:32 PM
Janet, that is beautiful! I love the way you captured so many details in luminous color inside the flowers. The composition's great too and the colors just sing. Thanks for sharing your stages! The flowers look very delicate and three dimensional, you really captured how cupped they are and the light coming through the petals.

Terri, your misty sunset is striking! I love the way you did the tree branches, the sky holes are particularly nice and the way the mass of the tree looks is so cool. The mist is very effective too, wonderful composition.

I finally started the square painting from all those notans and color studies. Her's stage one. Warning, it's goofy at this stage! I wanted lots of complements in the vegetation though and not much in the way of matching local color in the underpainting.

Pines by River Stage 1
8" square
Color Conte sticks
Light gray PastelMat

It'll look better once I start modifying the color. It's got to. Right now those sickly peach light vegetation areas are just too much. It looks like I'm on Venus but I got something in my eyes. Once I build it up some it ought to look a lot better. This stage and the next one are always sort of... acts of trust.

02-17-2010, 08:34 PM
Robert.. thanks for the kind words... I cant wait to see the next stage of your scene...... its a fascinating approach...... a bit too soon for me to try yet though !!

02-17-2010, 09:38 PM
Terri, Absolutely love this! The crop, the simplicity of the color scheme - beautiful!

Robert, Looking forward to seeing how this comes out!


02-17-2010, 10:22 PM
I just found this thread tonight....I'm a bit slow on the uptake :cat:

It's a GREAT thread and I hope to participate next month! Really wonderful work everyone...nothing like just doing the work!

:clap: :clap: :clap:

02-17-2010, 10:46 PM
Thanks, Doug and Jaytee! I hope it comes out as well as the pears still life did. I used the same pastels and support, so I'm hoping this works!

I did another study, this time of just the large pine. I'll crosspost this to the sketch thread and Tree Studies thread too.

Large Pine Study
12 color set of color Conte sticks (hard pastels)
White sketchbook paper

It was easier to get the right hue and value with the larger set, but I love the way the 12 color set mixes. I was able to approximate it pretty well though more work on the foliage behind it would've helped.

02-18-2010, 02:24 AM
Everyone’s work is so great! And I thank you for all the nice comments to my piece. Doing pastels the last 6 months, I am starting to build more confidence.
I have had a difficult month and do not think I can work with the pastels the next couple of weeks, so I will wait for March. Though I have been working with some oil paintings.
I so love coming here and learning so much from everyone. I really appreciate Colorfix, Don, and Robert for so much good advice and the time you spend here. :heart: :heart: :heart:

02-18-2010, 10:56 AM
Jaytee, love the Lilies! I've replied in your thread too.
Terri. Good sketch. The suede board makes it look soft focus and kinda dreamy.
Robert, the colourist is at work again! Looking forward to the next stages. Like the sketch of the tree too.
I haven't done the lilies yet and, well, I may not now I've seen what Jaytee's achieved!

02-18-2010, 10:58 AM
I'm sure glad I ran across this thread. Being bogged down on another project, I needed a bit of a break and this is a great excerise! I have been wanting to try a fog scene and walla... I worked most of the blending with a paper towel but when I blended the foreground I used my fingers. I tried going over it lightly but it came out a bit rough looking in my opinion. I was tentative about pouring on the chalk to produce a more smooth finish but anyway this is what I came up with. It is about 10" X 9".
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/18-Feb-2010/213244-82335-h-v-10-small-1.jpg http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/18-Feb-2010/213244-DSCN0521-1.jpg

02-18-2010, 08:09 PM
WOW! everyone is doing so great here, i did one last week than got busy then sick for a few days and haven't got to post. will do soon.

02-18-2010, 09:21 PM
Marcus, your painting has a very nice feel to it. Your coniferous trees have lovely edges to them.

02-18-2010, 11:11 PM
Robert, Your sketches continue to impress!

Marcus, Very nice piece! Especially like the color of the water!


02-19-2010, 06:34 PM
Jaytee, love your flowers!

mollerman I really like your rendering.

02-20-2010, 10:09 AM
Marcus, I love what you did with the misty scene. That's so rich and beautiful.

02-20-2010, 12:16 PM
Mark, your landscape is lovely. I love how you've handled the water...delicious!

Well, I've finally done the Lilies. I did this as a 1 hour sketch as I've hardly done any this month. I may post it in the sketch thread too but it has to go in here of course! I chose a square crop and in the end the only thing I did was to crop down first then change the position of the RH flower in relation to the other. I think it just made them fit better into a square.

7x7 on Memoir (yeah don't ask. I've had it for ages and don't like it for pastel) Oh and I used a couple of my small set of Sennelier half sticks and was quite surprised at how scratchy they can be AND that they don't go down or cover as well as my unisons.


02-20-2010, 02:07 PM

This is wonderful! Those flowers just glow! Boy, all these square crops are looking good!


02-20-2010, 03:40 PM
Ruthie, your flowers are gorgeous! They're so luminous and brilliant, wonderful painting for all the trouble you had with the Senneliers.

Here's the second stage of my square one. It didn't scan very well, the hues are a lot greener in person. It's weird the way the scanner made the underlayer so strong and didn't pick up the top layer much.

Pines by River, Stage 2
8" square
Color Conte hard pastels
Light gray PastelMat

I might switch to softer pastels for the next stage, go in with my Art Spectrums or Rembrandts or both.

02-20-2010, 05:37 PM
Everyone, I'm too behind on commenting, but I've looked at and admired all paintings, it is so interesting to see different crops, and how square crops suddenly are so popular!

Rob, like your energetic straights that zig-zag! Next stage will totally transform this!


02-20-2010, 07:49 PM
Yep! Tomorrow, maybe they'll look like trees instead of a geometric abstract!

02-20-2010, 10:40 PM
Yep! Tomorrow, maybe they'll look like trees instead of a geometric abstract!

Even at the "Geometric abstract" stage, I think we can see all the big shapes of the composition and it's looking good!


02-21-2010, 11:59 PM
I'm still in a stall mode so I came back to this thread and tackled another project! Finshed size 11" X 9". Had a hard time coming up with colors and values I wanted but I have a new pastel set on the way and can't wait to play with a larger arsenal of chalk! I just looked back and couldn't help but notice similarities to Ruthie's painting.
Lots of nice paintings..great thread Don.

02-22-2010, 11:03 AM
Mark, this is lovely. I really like how you handled the water and reflections, excellent water. Cool foreground foliage and the pines over on the right are spectacular mingled with the deciduous trees.

02-22-2010, 11:47 AM
Mark I love your interpretation of this. Yes, there are similarities with mine, er like it's from the same photo! Other than that I think you are too modest. this is a cut above mine for sure!

02-22-2010, 12:16 PM
Wow Mark I love it!

02-22-2010, 03:52 PM

Great painting! The colors and values look real good to me!


02-22-2010, 04:48 PM
Thank you, Don, for the photo references. I have been reading a book on Painting People in Watercolor by Alex Powers and I'm just using his format for the canoeists.

Pan Pastel
SMi soft pastels
Strathmore Gray Paper gray toned 9x12 inch


02-22-2010, 05:54 PM
Robert, looking forward to seeing stage 3.
Marcus, nicely done.
Ruthie, very lively.

02-22-2010, 10:22 PM
Hi Sandra,

Thanks for posting! Lots of energy and movement in this one!

Here's a question for everyone - Sandra has placed the kayaks fairly high in the composition with lots of water below them. I have always wondered if placing boats higher in the painting - and with more water below them - emphasizes the fact that they are floating? Anyone else have any thoughts on placing boats in a composition?

Just wondering!


02-22-2010, 11:46 PM
Sandra, that's great! I like the landscape elements you brought in with the kayakers, that makes the composition more interesting. Wonderful rendering.

Don, I couldn't say. It's something I've literally never thought about, probably because I don't paint boats or people in landscapes very often. I like the idea that placing them high makes them seem to float but think that it's also a matter of good accurate proportion and how the boats are placed in the water, more than if they're near or far.

02-22-2010, 11:55 PM
Typically for me the central image is always placed off center. In this case it would depend on whether I found the sky to be more interesting or the water in the foreground. If I felt the water in the foreground was kind of dead to the scene I would bring the kayaks lower and on the other hand if I felt the sky was a bit bland I would place the kayaks higher up and ephasize the forewater. In either case I try to take a bit more emphasis off, either at the top or bottom so basically two thirds of the painting are more so captivating. Personally I would have prefered placing the kayaks more to the lower right corner since they are moving left to right it seems to me since the backs are showing they should be towards the right side as they would be passing by.

02-23-2010, 12:45 AM
Here are a couple crops to go along with my earlier question. Does placing the boats higher give them more of a floating feeling?


I have been puzzling over this for many years! This seemed a good place to ask!


02-23-2010, 04:24 AM
Don, based on ocular empirical evidence, I'd say a higher placement is indeed making them float more, while placing them lower gives them weight.

Only tricky thing is the paddle, as it nearly touches the edge and leads out. If the persons could be reversed, might that work? As it'd put the raised paddle lower within the picture?


02-23-2010, 12:44 PM
Yes, higher placement makes them float better. I think Charlie's suggestion of switching paddlers, would keep both of them in the painting plane.

02-23-2010, 03:15 PM
Don't ask me why but, to me, the second one has the feel of them rapidly rowing out of the picture and therefore does not make such a good composition. If it was a wider crop the 2nd may look best. To me, they are floating just the same in the first as in the 2nd. But then, I never said I had an eye for composition, just a gut feeling!

02-23-2010, 07:14 PM
For me when I see a boat my mind says it must be floating...cropped high or low doesn't seem to make a difference if it is more floaty or not. The angle of the paddle does draw the eye in the direction it is pointing. With the picture on the left there is enough water expanse at the top to absorb my eye from wandering off the page.
This is my theory in cropping so I could be wrong but, when you are cropping a mobile object generally there would be more room towards the direction it's going in and cropped tighter towards the rear. Depending on the objects features vertically for instance if you were to have a long water reflection below the boat, I would crop the boat higher up in the picture. If the boat were to have smoke stacks and smoke pouring out at the top more so than the reflection at the bottom I would position the boat lower in the frame.

02-23-2010, 07:28 PM
Not surprisingly, we all see things a bit different. If nothing else, this is a good reminder that one person's "rule of composition" might be quite different - even irrelevant - for someone else!

Personally, because of the paddle position of the upper kayaker, I like the first composition better, too. But I usually do consider placing boats a little higher in the composition than I might normally, to increase (at least for me) the floating feeling!

Ruth wrote:I never said I had an eye for composition, just a gut feeling!

Well, that's how I compose, too. I consider it far more accurate than any other method, at least for me!


02-23-2010, 07:34 PM
This is my theory in cropping so I could be wrong but, when you are cropping a mobile object generally there would be more room towards the direction it's going in and cropped tighter towards the rear.
I think this is generally a good theory. I think most if not all of the boat paintings have been composed with more room in front for the boats to "move" into. In fact, the theory can also be applied to non-mobile objects. In portraiture (people or animals) more space is usually given to the side the subject is looking into, if the gaze is not straight ahead.


02-23-2010, 08:00 PM
I hadn't noticed that, Don, but now that you mention it, you're right. When I'm painting sometimes I wind up adding space in the direction something's pointing or looking to get it to look right, without realizing why.

02-23-2010, 08:03 PM
I hadn't noticed that, Don, but now that you mention it, you're right. When I'm painting sometimes I wind up adding space in the direction something's pointing or looking to get it to look right, without realizing why.

It's that all important gut feeling! I think every artist needs to trust their's more!


02-24-2010, 11:33 AM
Don, Robert you are correct I believe. The angle of a portrait or the direction the eyes are looking in suggests movement of a sort. It's like talking to someone who's eyes are looking in a direction away from you. Your eye would eventually tend to look off in that direction. I do agree that how you crop may have general rules but none that can't be broken. Use of values can also break the common boundaries of composition. In a picture everything appears to be correct and apt but in a painting if I feel my eye wandering off the image I can change the value to suck the viewers eye back into the composition. I'm not so sure I am good at it but it sounds like a good theory? If we all followed the same rules of composition how diverse would art be? Go with that gut feeling...it's not a bad thing.
In my last painting post in this forum, I was confused in what direction the river flowed? It almost appeared to split to the left and right. In the photo the river was nicelyframed with the pines in the background, the shore on the left and the small bushes along the bottom. The question I faced was: Do I want to frame the river in with the larger bush on the right...or take it out and let the river flow by? My gut feeling was let the river run. I think Ruthie saw the same thing or her gut feelings took charge. So does the river flow more without the brush on the right or not? I think it is more flowy without...

02-24-2010, 05:25 PM
The question I faced was: Do I want to frame the river in with the larger bush on the right...or take it out and let the river flow by? My gut feeling was let the river run. I think Ruthie saw the same thing or her gut feelings took charge. So does the river flow more without the brush on the right or not? I think it is more flowy without...


Your question is a good one and this comes up in a general way in many landscapes. The bushes in the foreground could be looked at as "blockers" or "stoppers", or similar terms. In many paintings the artist needs to decide where they want - or don't want - some element that stops the eye from continuing in a certain direction. So, yes, I believe that the river flows more without the "stopper" bush.


02-25-2010, 01:04 PM
Hello everyone, great work posted this month and also your discussion about composition is very interesting, I kind of agree with Mollerman, Robert and Charlie. This is my version of the ref. with fog I introduced a boat on the right to balance the trees and house on the left. It is a 9x12 pastel on Wallis and have tittled it "Early catch at Sunrise"http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/25-Feb-2010/159973-IMG_1060.jpg

02-25-2010, 01:34 PM
Jose, that is magnificent! I like the way you added the fisherman, that balances the house nicely. Your reflections and mist are wonderful!

02-25-2010, 03:30 PM
Jose, Thanks for joining us! This is very nice! Always good to keep in mind that a photo reference can just be the starting point and that things can be rearranged, deleted or, as in your case, added!


02-25-2010, 04:30 PM
Nice one Jose. I like the addition of the house and the boat.
Robert, how's your coming on?
Can't believe I'll be without WC for the next few days. I s'pose I could do some housework..............no, don't think I'll get that desparate.
Thank you Don for hosting and everyone who's taken part in this. I think we've all taken something from it to chew over. Shame no one else did the cute puppy though.

02-25-2010, 08:24 PM
Nice touch Jose. I had the same idea in mind with the boat but didn't feel bold enough to go through with it. I'm glad you did. I love the way the painting pulses and is so lively. Did anybody else notice the cabin in the ref photo?
I'm going to miss wc also but just think maybe when we come back we will have another challenge?
Don - What is the name of the river with the pines in the background?

02-25-2010, 10:30 PM
The scheduled shutdown this weekend has been delayed, so we still have a couple of days to enjoy the February Spotlight!!

Marcus - The river with the pines is the Hudson River - believe it or not - not far from it's source in the Adirondacks!


02-26-2010, 12:59 AM
Well hi everyone. y'all are doing a great job here. it's a little late for me to comment to each and everyone. I also did this of the stream about two weeks ago and forgot to post it. :confused: so here it is. 6/8 mi-teintes. C&C welcome.


02-26-2010, 10:24 AM
Jose, lovely! I like the human element, with emphasisi on the boat and the cottage!

Pete, beautiful water! Like the crop, it works well to 'behead' that main tree, it looses impact, and the water shines as a result!


02-26-2010, 11:05 AM
Pete, I love your version of the stream! That is so inviting. It's true and rich and wonderful.

Mine's still sort of hung up on stage two, haven't worked on it again and really should. I've been thinking about it a lot? That happens sometimes. I might work on it today -- wow, it's actually still early and I've got some light.

02-26-2010, 12:03 PM

Very nice painting! As Charlie has mentioned, your crop really puts the emphasis on the river!


02-26-2010, 12:12 PM
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/26-Feb-2010/159973-IMG_1058.jpg Thank you, Robert, Don, Ruthie, Marcus, for looking at my work and your comments are deeply appreciated. I'd like to submit another one for your consideration; this one gave me a little headache with the composition. I did few mini sketches in watercolor prior to adding pastel and finally understood that the rocks and the foreground bushes were the culprit; they stopped the river from running which was the goal I was pursuing. What do you think? your comments are extremely valuable, so please C&C. This is a 9x12 pastel on Wallis.

02-26-2010, 12:19 PM
Pete, very nice I like how the colors harmonize.

02-26-2010, 07:27 PM
Pete, this is so lively! I love how the water sparkles, that's the first thing that grabbed me in your river painting. My eyes keep coming back to the water, it's like the water's the focus in it. Gorgeous!

02-26-2010, 09:26 PM

Very Nice! I'm glad to see the various ways folks are manipulating the photos to achieve their goals! I think you've succeeded!


02-26-2010, 09:48 PM
Jose, I also puzzled over the rocks for some time trying to decide whether to take them out or use them to break up the great expanse of water. Your bringing the far shoreline down squeexed the water expanse down a bit which looks good. I like the use of colors.
Nice job Pete.
All of the interpretations of this photo certainly depict the photo reference.

02-27-2010, 05:54 AM
Pete. Nice rendition of the scene. Great reflections.
Jose. I think you achieved your goal with this one. When I did it I think I, almost subconsciously, wanted the flow to be slowed hence my retention of the foreground bush. The rocks must've helped that impression too. By the way, great pastel work. Love the hints of red amongst the green making it sparkle.

02-27-2010, 05:59 PM
Don, thanks for this great thread and the refs -- a wonderful selection. I'm way to far behind to comment on all the great work. Without the weekend work being delayed, I'd not had time to post. So, I am thankful for the dealy. both are about 8x10x mi-tientes.

I agree with Ruthie, that puppy was too cute to pass up, though I cropped quite a bit. Also, got in time for the reflecting pond -- that photo is so gorgeous I may go back and try it again.

C&C welcome and appreciated --

Thanks to all the contributors -- I learned a lot from everyone's work and the great comments and suggestion.




02-27-2010, 06:01 PM
Both of these are great. I love the reflecting water, that one is so gorgeous. The puppy's very true to life even if you cropped so tight.

02-27-2010, 10:15 PM
Charlie, well thank you ever so much. i find some times that the sky most of the time seems to over power the rest of the seen. and the eye seems to run right up to it forgetting what the main subject is in a painting.

Robert, thank you. now it's time for a swim. if it were only warmer (alot warmer) i was going as the water was the main focal piont in here. i'm glad it worked.

Don, thank you ever so much. that's what i was trying for.

Jose, you did great on this on. love the reflections even the clouds in the water. and thank you for the fine comment.

Thank you, Marcus.

Ruthie, thank you also.

Nancy, your to pieces are just lovely.

Don, Thanks for hosting our very first ever Spotlight. what a great job yor did with it. :clap: :clap: :clap:

02-28-2010, 12:19 AM
Nancy, Very nice paintings! You've really captured the colors and atmosphere of the landscape, especially!

Thanks to all for your kind words!


02-28-2010, 05:18 AM
Great paintings both Nancy. The landscape is full of atmosphere.
Well, I'm looking forward to what next month has in store for us!

02-28-2010, 08:01 AM
Nancy, lovely pup, and wonderful colours in the landscape, that crop works really well in giving depth!

Pete, I've noticed that Monet quite often dulls and darkens the sky, so it doesn't steal all the attention. As sky is light, then anything silhouetted against it will create the greatest contrast, and draw the eye.

Don, wonderful host and teacher! Thank you! Very much looking forward to next month, tomorrow!


02-28-2010, 12:45 PM
Pines by River
8" square
Color Conte hard pastels
Light grey ClaireFontaine PastelMat
Photo reference by DAK723 for February 2010 Spotlight challenge in Soft Pastel Talk forum.

I did it. I'm declaring it done, though I could keep fussing at it for weeks. It worked. I can't believe it worked, this one was totally crazy in both the sky stuff and the foliage stuff, but it worked. I stuck my neck out on some of the colors and that worked too, using all those blues into the more distant foliage and oranges into the nearer, it still looks green.


It's done... after all that intensity...

02-28-2010, 01:06 PM
Robert, love your forground foliage. very nive scence of light. well done.

02-28-2010, 01:26 PM
Robert, forgive me for taking the liberty to put all your three together, stages 1, 2, and 4. The devlopment is wonderful! The finished painting feels solid and real! Well done! So let's "back up digitally", and see them side by side:



02-28-2010, 01:54 PM
Thank you so much! I love the way you put the stages together, can I copy that to my blog?

02-28-2010, 02:45 PM
Beautiful work Nancy, love the pup especially!

Awesome work Robert, I also love the foreground foliage. Looks like you are able to do a fair amount of layering even with the hard pastels. I invested in a few Richeson squares and am finding it very difficult to layer these.

And thank you Don for hosting this month. It's been very informative and fun! :clap: :clap:

02-28-2010, 02:53 PM
Robert, of course you can copy it for your blog, it is your painting!


02-28-2010, 03:03 PM
Robert, great finish and great to see the stages together Charlie.
Happy March everyone!

02-28-2010, 03:42 PM
Chuas, try layering them on PastelMat. I had no problem with five or six layers in some areas on this painting, though I haven't tried the Richeson squares on it yet.

02-28-2010, 05:07 PM
Pete, Don, Charlie, Ruthie, chaus -- thanks for your comments -- can't wait to see what there is to work on in March!!!

Robert -- also thanks for your comments -- your river scene is terrific, and Charlie's gallery of the three really shows your progress. The foilage is very effective and your use of color, very dramatic. Love it.


02-28-2010, 07:19 PM
Thank you! Thanks, Charlie. I can't believe I did the whole thing... it's proved the value of all those preliminaries that I skip so many times.

02-28-2010, 07:37 PM

Wonderful painting! And thank you, Charlie, for putting together the stages side-by-side!

And thank you Charlie and Chuas and everyone else for your kind comments!

And thank you to all who have posted paintings, those who have commented, and those who have just browsed! I've just been the humble host - it is you have made the first installment of the Spotlight a success!

And for those who may still be working on their paintings, or those who still want to try out some of the refs, the thread will still be active once February ends. It just won't be "sticky" (kept at the top of the page) once March begins. And please join in for the Spotlight in March!


02-28-2010, 10:52 PM
Robert, your third stage really tied up nicely. Great job and nicely put together Charlie. I think sometimes we all forget the stages we did to get to where we ended up. Thanks for reminding us. Pete, great river composition and colour.

Thanks again, Don, for such a fun adventure. Looking forward to March.

02-28-2010, 11:14 PM
Thank you! I can't wait to see what the March challenge is going to be -- subject, or color, or palette... it's going to be fun! I've got new pastels and paper, so I'm going to be jumping right in tomorrow weather permitting.

03-01-2010, 12:46 AM
Thanks for hosting, Don. I meant to do another painting before the month was up, but it's the last day of February. So much for my big plans. Thanks again.


03-01-2010, 11:46 AM
Nancy, love both of your paintings, great use of color.

03-01-2010, 11:54 AM

Very Nice! I'm glad to see the various ways folks are manipulating the photos to achieve their goals! I think you've succeeded!

Don, thank you for your comments, and thank you again for the beautiful Pictures. I'm still working on on the fourth ref. almost 75% complete, wondering if I could post it past the deadline?

03-01-2010, 12:54 PM
Yes you can post, still. The thread might get 'un-stickied', and 'float' in the posts just like any thread, but post in it you can.


03-01-2010, 03:31 PM
Robert, I love your color pallet the colors just sing, wonderful. And, Charlie what a great idea of putting the steps together, how you do that?