View Full Version : The Spotlight - September 2010 The Lazy Days of Summer

09-01-2010, 09:29 AM
Hello Artists and welcome to the September Spotlight! :wave:

Here is a quick recap of what The Spotlight is all about!

The Spotlight 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 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 this month are taken by me. You have permission to use the photos as reference to create your artwork and to sell them and/or exhibit them. The actual photos still retain the copyright of the photographer. So you cannot 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.

The Spotlight this month is on...The lazy days of Summer!

Here in the Northern hemisphere, September marks the end of summer. But we want summer to linger! So here are some scenes taken over the years depicting the lazy days of summer! Well, actually the scenes are all of boats on lakes, but I thought “Boats on Lakes” didn’t make a very good Spotlight title! Feel free to crop, recompose and change the elements of the photos as you wish.

I hope you enjoy the references, and I hope they help you enjoy the lazy days of summer right through September! Please post your paintings here in this thread! I look forward to seeing what everyone comes up with! Enjoy!

For a larger version:

http://www.wetcanvas.com/RefLib/showphoto.php?photo=91781&size=big&cat (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/../RefLib/showphoto.php?photo=91781&size=big&cat)=


http://www.wetcanvas.com/RefLib/showphoto.php?photo=91731&size=big&cat (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/../RefLib/showphoto.php?photo=91731&size=big&cat)=


http://www.wetcanvas.com/RefLib/showphoto.php?photo=91791&size=big&cat (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/../RefLib/showphoto.php?photo=91791&size=big&cat)=


http://www.wetcanvas.com/RefLib/showphoto.php?photo=91741&size=big&cat (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/../RefLib/showphoto.php?photo=91741&size=big&cat)=


http://www.wetcanvas.com/RefLib/showphoto.php?photo=91751&size=big&cat (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/../RefLib/showphoto.php?photo=91751&size=big&cat)=

09-01-2010, 12:23 PM
Great photos and theme, Don. Interesting theme of boats on lakes, though I think I could crop creatively and do some non-boat wilderness paintings with them. I haven't been to a lake for way too many years, this is tantalizing!

Paula Ford
09-01-2010, 01:16 PM
Gorgeous photos Don!! They are perfect for the lazy days of summer!

09-01-2010, 01:21 PM
Great photos! I'm a bit intimidated though-me and water definitely a challenge. I'll have to see what I can come up with...:o

09-01-2010, 04:10 PM
Ooh, great pics Don! I love the third and fifth ones....will defo do them! Thanks for hosting again!

09-01-2010, 09:16 PM
Oh Don, more landscapes?! Albeit beautiful ones, but I'll have to think of them like a diorama! I'll try one...

09-01-2010, 11:29 PM
Thanks all! Please don't be intimidated by water or landscapes in general! Remember, whatever the subject, it is all just shapes of color/value/intensity!


09-02-2010, 06:44 PM

Love the references a lot. I might even go big this time!


09-04-2010, 03:51 PM
Yes Maria....Go BIG!

Don. I haven't got round to any of these yet. At the mo I'm struggling with a still life for the PGE challenge and trying to complete a pet portrait commission. Once they are done I will take GREAT pleasure in doing one of these!

09-04-2010, 10:01 PM
Whoa, I'm being the first to post in this landscape thread? Will wonders never cease? Well, this is really a sketch, and maybe a study for a more detailed painting. It's on PastelMat, and I had some problems with the paper, there were "tracks" going down the right hand side that took a lot of pressure to cover...disappointing.

At any rate, I pulled up my old style of painting acrylics, which believe it or not, was very loose and impressionistic.


09-04-2010, 11:53 PM
Chuas, Thanks for starting us off! I was just reading a book on Sergei Bongart, great painter and teacher from the 20th century. He mentions on numerous occasions that painters should do still lifes because, "If you can paint still life, you can paint anything! Approach every subject the same way - you paint the President of the United States the same way as you paint a cucumber."

OK, he didn't actually mention landscapes, but I thought it was a good quote! Hmmm, I wonder who was President when he said that...

Anyway, very nice sketch! Great division of light and shadow that really makes the painting!

Maria, Ruth, I look forward to seeing your efforts!


09-05-2010, 07:26 AM
Nice one Chuas! great loose approach. Talking of pastelmat I've experienced flaws in the surface which are hard to cover. I use so much pastel tho' I usually manage!

09-05-2010, 08:57 AM
Great impressionistic flavor to this,Chuas...i like it a lot. I have yet to try pastelmat...keep meaning to get some, but havent as of yet.

I figured I would start off early, also, as I tend to fizzle out later in the month...I cropped a bit, but here it is...
I think the water turned out a bit too light...wanted the sailboat to really stand out...C&C always welcome

09-05-2010, 11:54 AM
Nice one Judi! As always, your lovely almost ethereal look, with wonderful color. Are you still on the Hahnemühle paper?

Ruthie, that's not the first time I've experienced that on PastelMat. In fact, I had a pad that was a totally different texture than the full sheets. I like that this paper tends to keep me looser (not sure why that is), but I really don't like the uneven texture. This time I overworked the sky because of it.

Thanks Don! I took years of figure drawing/painting in my first incarnation and got to a point I could render a fairly lifelike figure (a little less like a space alien and more like a human). I always thought if you could draw the human figure you could draw anything...now THAT is hard! I'm going to do my next still life with a cucumber. :lol:

09-05-2010, 05:32 PM
Chuas, nice painting. I have also had problems with the Pastelmat but am determined to give it another go.

Judi, I agree with Chuas on the ethereal quality. Like the flow of the piece too.

09-05-2010, 05:46 PM
Judi. This is good...the boat does stand out well. The values are pretty good. Maybe the water could've gone a little darker but I don't think it matters.
Re the pastelmat. I've only had these problems with one pad, not so far with the sheets. I hope it's not going to be a regular occurence as I've just orderd a whole load of pads at half price!

09-05-2010, 09:01 PM

Wonderful! Love those dark green trees which provide great contrast with the boat!


09-06-2010, 06:25 AM
Here's my first one. Probably about 9x7 on a La Carte "type" sanded paper. Only used pastel pencil for the fishing rods! This took me less than an hour. Now I have to shut up studio and take Mum to the hospital.
In life it does look quite sharp. My camera's not in the mood this morning though :wink2:


09-06-2010, 12:33 PM
Beautiful, simple, understated, lovely Ruthie! Less than an hour? Holy cow. i'm a slow painter I guess. My sketch took several hours of fretting and faffing!

Good luck with your mom Ruthie, you are an angel.

09-06-2010, 04:41 PM
Its been a long time since I last posted in pastels. But I have been working with soft pastels creating landscapes and saw this thread so I decided to check it out. I saw the photo that resembles this image and decided to create my impression of it.
soft pastel on sand paper 7x9"

09-06-2010, 05:41 PM
chuas, did you put snow on the summer scene? The sparkling water is really very pretty and the color of the water too.

Judi, I like the mountains in your piece. They look so majestic with that color.

Ruthie, very peaceful piece. The foliage is really well done.

Peg, love the colors. Definitely a summery piece.

Thank you, Don, for the reference photos. I couldn't help but focus on people again.

Using only limited colors this time.

Derwent Pastel Pencils - hooker's green, orange earth, sepia, spectrum orange, geranium lake
65 lbs cardstock beige patterned, primed with Colorfix pastel ground clear 8.5 x 11 inch full page


09-06-2010, 05:42 PM
Chaus; Very beautiful painting!
Judibelle: Beautiful loose painting!
:clap: :clap:
I did the sailboat and the fishermen . Both are small the sail boat is 3" x 6" on grey velour various pastels and semi-hard pastels. and the fishermen 3" x 4" on light grey velour with various soft pastels. I've never done people in any medium, so I made them appear as shadows in both of these. :o

09-06-2010, 05:47 PM
Ruthie: Very beautiful painting; yours looks so realistic!
Peg: Great vibrant, bright colors in your painting.
Sandra, really great details in the people in your painting
:clap: :clap: :clap:

09-06-2010, 07:37 PM
Thanks, everybody, for your comments on my piece.
I hope to get another one done soon...

Sandra...great job on the people. I can feel the movement of the oars...
Ruthie....very nice job on the lake scene. love the people in the boat and the reflections created.
Peg...love the colors in this..
tvandeb...love your sailboat....and very clever 'shadowing' them!

09-06-2010, 09:05 PM
Wow! You guys were really busy today! Some really great paintings!

Ruth, Wonderful job on the peaceful fishermen! And good luck with your Mom.

Peg, Thanks for joining us! This is great - very vibrant! Love the bold strokes in the boat's reflection!

Sandra, Nice zoom in on the paddlers. Nice work on the figures!

Tammy, Nice job on these! I can't believe you can work so small, especially on velour!


09-07-2010, 11:29 AM
Great job on the people Sandra! No snow, although it does look like it doesn't it? Thermometer hit 106 here the other day. Maybe it was wishful thinking!

Nice ones Tammy, I especially like the multicolored sails!

Love the unexpected color in yours Peg, good job!

09-07-2010, 01:38 PM
Chuas, your work is stunning! I love your rendition.
Judi, very nice colors. I am always drawn to the organic shades!
Ruth, as always, perfect! I need to know how you were able to define the people! I had such a hard time with it.
gakinme excellent sketch. Very nice. I was looking at the photos thinking about cropping, and I was drawing a blank. I really need to learn to make the photo my own interpretation of art. Any tips?
Tammy, love your painterly style!
Peg, excellent rendition. I would also like to hear from you how to get the detail on the people! I am at such a loss...

:clap: :clap: :clap:

Here is my try out. I did not go too big. Is 11 x 14 on Vellum. I am not totally happy with it... I may try another photo later in the month if I have time. Any critique to improve on my next one is appreciated.


09-08-2010, 10:01 AM
Maria, this is very nice! You've really done a nice job depicting the sails - both their vivid color and their graceful curves!


09-08-2010, 11:19 AM
Thanks for comments, everyone.

Tammy, wow, you did well on such a small space on velour paper. It has definitely the soft touch to them. Very nice. Both look very cheerful. Perfect for a baby first book.

Maria, good vibrant colors. The reflected surface tells that there's a bit of wind.

As to cropping, just highlight the stuff you like to draw and you'll put your heart to it.

09-08-2010, 01:12 PM
Sunface: Beautiful interpretation of the sailboat and water!

Thanks for the comments. I've been doing alot of ATC's lately so been trying to get pastel paintings smaller to do this. I bought a really cool tool in Austin at the Jerry's artarama; never seen one before; a pastel sharpener; really nice for making smaller pastel paintings because I sharpen the pastel to give it an edge again, so I can paint the smaller objects. What a great invention..:)

09-08-2010, 03:24 PM
Thank you Don for the nice comments!

Tammy, seems like yet again, :evil: I need to spend more money on art supplies! I need that sharpener! :D

09-08-2010, 04:08 PM
Whoa, I'm getting behind here!

Peg, I really like your rendition of the boat. Hope to see more from you.

Sandra, the boat people are great! I like the way you've emphasised the skin by using more depth of pigment than the rest. Do I detect slightly more *butt* than in the ref pic?

Tammy, tiny but beautiful! How do you DO that on velour?! OMG I HATE velour!

Maria, love your boat! The sail is great and the focus of the whole painting, as it should be. I see you played down the flowers. I intend to leave them out altogether when I do this one.

Which brings me to why I haven't yet done another........I printed the stripey sail boat one off this morning. went to the studio, packed my easel, board, paper, paper towels and masking tape. Picked up my pastel box, went to my art group...and only then realised I hadn't brought the PICTURE!!

So I had to do something else.

Maybe tomorrow or Friday I'll get that one done.......

09-08-2010, 04:38 PM
Whoa, I'm getting behind here!
...and only then realized I hadn't brought the PICTURE!!

So I had to do something else.

Maybe tomorrow or Friday I'll get that one done.......

So funny!. If it makes you feel any better, it has happened to me before.:lol: :lol: :lol:

Thanks for the nice comments everyone!

09-08-2010, 08:45 PM
Thanks everyone..

I paint in the impressionist style. I love that paint era..thus the bold strokes..with the looseness.

Maria..I first outlined the people to get the shapes, then outlined in a flesh toned pastel pencil on the left where the sunlight was hitting them then went in with dark pastel pencils. I kept it very loose. When people are that small I do not go for detail. Infact even in portraits I do not go for detail I go for the colour.
Hope that helps.

09-10-2010, 09:43 AM
Maria, I'm ALWAYS doing that! Luckily for me there are bottles, jars, candle holders etc at the art group venue. Also some of the others have folders full of photos so I'm never without any inspiration!

Anyway, I have done the sailboat one now after remembering to take the photo out to the studio with me!

This is about 8x6ish on la carte type sanded paper (the other half of the sheet I did the other spotlight one on).

I really enjoyed doing this although I wish I could loosen up a bit. When I try my painting ceases to look anything like the subject. I've cropped it and left out the flowers. Be quick or it'll sail right out of the painting!


09-10-2010, 11:09 AM

Great job on this! Boat, water, reflections are great! For many folks, loosening up is a good suggestion because in tightening up the painting, they lose the natural feeling and sense of life or movement. That is definitely not the case with your work! It looks exceptionally realistic and natural!


09-10-2010, 02:05 PM
Ruth I love it!

09-10-2010, 03:28 PM
Love your boat rendition, Kris

09-10-2010, 03:33 PM
Peg -- sailboat rocks! lively ... colorful... real treat, thanks

09-10-2010, 03:36 PM
Thanks Don, maybe you're right. I've just been imagining how I may have approached this one a year ago. I would have HAD to use pastel pencils for most of the boat. As it is, I only used them for the figures and mast etc and then only because of the size and this blasted paper!

Thanks Maria!

David, who's Kris?

09-10-2010, 07:28 PM
Kris = Chuas

09-11-2010, 01:54 AM
16.5"x13" on light blue Fabriano Tizano using mostly Richeson semi-hard sticks with Faber-Castell pastel pencils showing up for the finer bits.

I will probably go back and strengthen the cast shadow a bit. It reads ok in person, but a little more drama is not a bad thing. (EDIT: I actually did this and managed to get the image swapped out.)


09-11-2010, 11:11 PM
Tim, Thanks for joining us! Very nice job on the sailboat!

It's not easy to capture the elegant curves of both the boat and the sails, but you guys are doing a great job with them!


09-15-2010, 01:19 AM
Don -

I appreciate the comment and thank you for the Spotlight.


09-16-2010, 09:36 PM
Tim, Nice job on your boat. Seems that photo was a favorite!

I worked on a piece today while my son was in his soccer practice. I had a very limited palette, and student grade sticks, but it was just a quick piece for practice.

Is aproximately 8 x 10, and for the first time I used the colorfix clear primer. It made a whole world of difference! Thanks to Robert who suggested I tried it.


09-16-2010, 10:16 PM

This is excellent! Nice job!


09-17-2010, 12:03 AM
Ruthie, your version of the rainbow sailboat is gorgeous! I love how you did the reflections. They're fantastic.

Tim, yours is so light and bright and cheery. I like how you did it on the unsanded paper, it has a gorgeous texture in the water. If you wanted to strengthen the cast shadow, why not treat it as a reflection and scumble a light layer of the rainbow colors into it, right over the blue?

Maria, your boaters came out so well. That's got great depth and vitality, their skin tones are fantastic, their bodies so well modeled and the boat so perfect in perspective.

09-17-2010, 04:14 AM
Maria, I love your "baot people". You've really caught the movement of the rowing action. Good piece. It is different using sanded paper. Personally I think it gives pastel work a whole new dimension.
Thanks Don, Maria and Robert for your comments on mine.
Not sure I'll have time to do another but I'll look in to see what's happening.

09-17-2010, 12:58 PM
Thanks everyone for the nice comments!

I feel I have learned so much since I started posting on this forum. Thank you all for your guidance!

:heart: :grouphug: :heart:

09-20-2010, 02:51 PM
Hi friends! :grouphug:
Don, thank you much for hosting. I love your photos and appreciate the time you devote to the group.

A little late getting started here this month, the first challenge I've painted since returning from Iraq. Home in the States for the next year, then off to Europe for 3 years.

This is also the first time I've tried pastels other than Blick. Sennelier over CretaColor, on ColourFix, 9x12. The Sennelier are so soft...takes some getting used to...they piled on quickly because I used too much pressure.

C&C always welcome,


09-20-2010, 04:24 PM
Wow Dave! This is great! That little windsurfer thingy stands out beautifully and I also love the way you've described the trees behind it.
Senneliers are soft aren't they.....and crumbly and sometimes scratchy. But lovely colours!

09-20-2010, 05:27 PM
Dave, Glad to hear that you are safely home! This is an absolutely lovely painting! Wonderful contrast of the sail against the dark trees! And the dark evergreens against the diffuse background trees works very well, too!

The softies do take some getting used to, but I think you will find that they are great for highlights and areas where you want intense color! They usually have great covering power, too!


09-21-2010, 12:21 AM

Welcome home!!! I really like this painting a lot. I like the way the water looks as though it's churning and the trees behind the boat are really beautiful! I'm running out of month, but I might have to give one of these a shot.

09-21-2010, 12:24 AM
Ruthie and Maria,

Your paintings are breathtaking. Ruthie, I love your vivid colors and the way you captured the motion of the boat. Maria, the softness of your colors and shadows really make it feel like it is a lazy, summer day. Very pretty!

09-21-2010, 06:12 PM
Thanks Lisa!! Hope to see one from you. I doubt I'll have time for any more but I'll watch this space!

09-21-2010, 11:43 PM
Dave, that's spectacular. I love the iron-gray sky and the textures of everything, it's so lively. I say iron-gray but it's blended and subtle with so many different hues. Great job on the little sailboat.

09-22-2010, 12:14 AM
OMG Dave ... beautiful work!

09-22-2010, 08:16 AM
Appreciate all the kind words. I really need to learn how to paint water, though

This week and next I'm in New England studying under Michael Chesley Johnson. He does water perfectly; so hope to pick up some tips.

All this month's challenge paintings so far have been good. I sat with another artist who had never seen the forum before. We looked at each piece carefully studying each. She's hooked on the site now and on each of you artists. Keep up the good work!