View Full Version : The Spotlight - August 2010 - Focusing on Focus

08-01-2010, 09:37 AM
Hello Artists and welcome to the August 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, or are from the reference library. 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...Focus! Or, you might say, let’s focus on Focus!

When we work on a painting, one of the questions we need to answer is, “What part (or parts) of my painting will be the most in focus?” The answers can vary quite a bit – from having the entire painting in focus – with hard, sharp edges all around – or using “selective focus” - narrowing the focus (and the hard, sharp edges) to a certain area or areas, and blurring the edges – to various degrees – in the remaining areas of the painting.

The two main reasons (that I can think of) to use selective focus, are to place emphasis on specific parts of the painting and to help create the illusion of distance or depth. In many cases, the two will go together!

But also keep in mind that focus is only one strategy to help place emphasis and create depth. There are other methods that can be used (value contrast, color intensity and temperature, atmospheric perspective, etc.) that often work hand in hand with focus, to achieve emphasis and depth. That is one reason why the use of focus can vary widely and that there are no rules when it comes to how you use it! Which means – we can experiment like crazy!

On the subject of rules, sometimes you will read them in art books and realize that they are far more restrictive than they should be. (No offence intended to the many great artists who have written how-to books, but rules tend to sell books and often hinder artists!) One of my art books, for example, says that for a painting to look realistic, you should definitely use selective focus. The reasoning being that the human eye can only focus at one distance at a time.

Now this is certainly a good strategy. As we will see in some of the examples later, using selective focus at a specific distance in your painting can work really well! But, is it the only way??

One could argue that – since the human eye focuses almost instantaneously – when we look out upon the world, we do see everything in focus. In fact, it takes a great deal of concentration to focus on an object at one distance and consciously be aware of the other distances being blurry. Because as soon as we concentrate on the other distances, they are immediately in focus! So a scene with overall focus can be just as “real” looking, don’t you think?

Let’s take a look at some of those examples!

Here are two landscapes with quite different focus strategies – on top, a painting by Albert Bierstadt, below, a Monet.


The Bierstadt is in focus from the small flowers in the immediate foreground, all the way to the distant mountains. The Monet, on the other hand, takes a different approach - narrowing the focus to the middle distance cliffs. Both the foreground and the far distance are out of focus, with softer edges, less value contrast and less detail.

And, obviously, both paintings work!

Here are another couple examples! On the left, a Degas; on the right, a Renoir.


The Degas painting has elements in focus from the closest foreground objects to the people along the back wall. In the Renoir, only the subject dancers are in focus, the figures in the background are blurry. The more distant trees are blurrier still.

So, in both the Monet and the Renoir, only a specific distance is in focus (as with the human eye, or as is sometimes the case with photography). That distance can be whatever you choose, and will obviously be the distance that contains your focal area or objects of greatest emphasis. As mentioned earlier, the two will often go hand in hand.

Now, while the human eye and the camera can selectively focus at one distance at a time, as painters, we do not have to restrict ourselves or create any sort of rules that say that this is the only way! Below is another Renoir! Notice that some figures are more in focus (regardless of distance), and others - especially the three figures in the upper right corner – are blurry and out of focus. In this painting, Renoir is using focus primarily for emphasis - guiding us to the figures that he wants to emphasize. It keeps the painting from becoming too busy, too.

Now if we go beyond the figures, we can see that Renoir has blurred the background, and through the trees we can see a blurry sailboat on the river. So there is some use of focus to create depth as well!


One more example of using focus for emphasis. On the left, a rather incredibly detailed pastel portrait by Maurice Quentin de La Tour. On the right, a sketchier portrait by Sargent, where only the head is in focus!


Now, even though the painting on the left is almost entirely in focus, that does not mean that the artist hasn’t created areas of emphasis. By placing the woman’s light-valued face against the large dark background, a focal area is created. Value and color contrasts, color temperature and intensity, the amount of detail, are all other ways to help create emphasis and depth. Focus can be used, along with these other methods to achieve your goals!

So, here is the challenge – let’s experiment with focus! As the artist, you get to decide what is in focus and how much variation in focus you want to use! The entire painting can be in focus, or you can use selective focus to the extreme! Have fun and see what strategies work best for you!

Here are the reference photos for the challenge. I’ve tried to provide lots of variety!
The photos are mostly in focus, so it will be up to you to decide if, and how much, you change them! Feel free to crop them and/or move the elements around a bit, too!


(This looks a lot like a 30 year old vacation photo...which it is!) For a larger version, click on the link:

http://www.wetcanvas.com/RefLib/showphoto.php?photo=90191&size=big&cat=57 (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/../RefLib/showphoto.php?photo=90191&size=big&cat=57)

More references will appear in the next post...


08-01-2010, 09:48 AM
More reference photos...


Photo by Sundiver, from the ref library.


Photo by Jocelynart, from the ref library. For a larger version, click on the link:



Photo by Gallery318, from the ref library. For a larger version:



Photo by me.


More references on the way...

08-01-2010, 09:57 AM
The last reference photos, all taken by me.









Have fun with this month's challenge - focusing on Focus!

Paula Ford
08-01-2010, 10:14 AM
I love the variety of subjects!! Great photos and subject matter Don!!

08-01-2010, 11:16 AM
Wow! This will be a real mental challenge.

08-01-2010, 11:33 AM
A challenge for me too Don, and something I've been thinking alot about since Charlie and Jackie's critiques on my recent WIP.

Great photos!

08-01-2010, 11:44 AM
Ooh this is a great challenge! What to focus on in a painting from a photo is always a conundrum to me. Landscapes, portraits or scenes with lots of detail often look so stilted if everything is sharply focused (not the examples above. They show that it CAN be done well).
It's something I find so hard to decide on and I have oft been critiqued for not using selective focus which, I now realise, has made some of my paintings feel flat and uninteresting.
I am so looking forward to this challenge! There are so many ref choices I'll have to study them carefully to decide which to do first.

08-01-2010, 01:45 PM
Thanks everybody! And, yes, the subject of focus can definitely be a challenge! For me, too! And let me reiterate - there are no right or wrong answers! Here's a chance to experiment and see how changes in focus can change the painting!

As I mentioned, the subject of focus is a challenge for me, too - not just in painting, but in taking photos as well. I take a lot of flower photos. Now, with a camera, it's easy to change the focal range (on close-up subjects), so I often take a series of photos with a different amount of focus in the background. But choosing which one I like best?...That's not easy!


Here's another example. Should I blur the foreground leaves or not? I tried two slightly different pics of the same scene.


To blur or not to blur - that is the question!

So have fun experimenting! I know I will!


08-01-2010, 02:20 PM
Interesting Don. I have to say I prefer the third Tulip with the soft focus BG. That's something I CAN do and I find it quite easy with pastels.
The other one looks better in the first shot, but that maybe because there's too much glare in the second. I've been looking at the challenge photo with the leaves at the top and wondering if I could successfully blur them to focus on the boat and jetty. I'll have a go when I've time.
Oh, and I must do the first one of the old man. He looks so like my late father it's unreal! I have Dad's nose and ears unfortunately!!

08-01-2010, 03:42 PM
Don, this is a great challenge! I'm going to have to do this one. Thank you for posting such a wide variety of photos too, it helps a lot!

08-01-2010, 03:44 PM
Don, I love the tulips and the lake with mist scene too - do those count as challenge photos too? They're both giving me ideas.

08-01-2010, 04:53 PM
Don, I love the tulips and the lake with mist scene too - do those count as challenge photos too? They're both giving me ideas.
Sure, feel free to use these as ref photos. The tulip pics all have blurry backgrounds, of course, but one could always experiment with sharpening the focus if you want!


08-01-2010, 05:03 PM
Oh, and I must do the first one of the old man. He looks so like my late father it's unreal!
He looks so like my late father, too! But, as one might guess...he is!


08-02-2010, 02:48 PM
Well Don, Maybe we're related! I know that he is not my father (you'll be relieved to know) but the likeness is quite striking. Hmm, wonder if you and I look alike? LOL

08-02-2010, 05:13 PM

I liked the Black-Eyed Susans. Nice photo, as well as all others!

It was fun to paint and I practiced with Deborah's short challenge of painting with 20 strokes or less:

May wake up tomorrow to change some other things, especially with comments and critique, which are always welcome.

Cheers, Dave

08-02-2010, 08:22 PM

Thanks for starting us off this month! I like this a lot! You've done a nice job of blurring the background, with just the slightest suggestion of leaves, to put the focus on the flowers! And then it looks like you've gone one step farther, and made the central flower even more in focus! I also like the choice of blue in the background to complement the yellow/orange flowers. Nicely done!


08-02-2010, 08:24 PM
Interesting challenge Don! Great ref photos. Hopefully I can find the time to join in the Spotlight this month.

08-02-2010, 09:50 PM
Don, this is a great challenge and a great lesson! When taking drawing classes in college, focus is always one of the main subjects, and sometimes a hard one to do right! :crossfingers:

Mollerman that was fast! Nice blue background.

08-03-2010, 11:37 AM
I tried to focus on one of the tomatoes. I like close ups, but I am not sure if such a close up would qualify as focus. What do you think?

08-03-2010, 08:57 PM
Hi Maria,

Nice close-up of the tomato! In terms of this Spotlight, focus is using hard or sharp edges wherever you decide! In this case, it almost seems that the texture of the highlight is the most in focus. You could experiment and see what happens if you make the stem sharper. I like the fact that the edges of the tomato are softer. This definitely helps make the tomato look round and gives it depth - even though we are zoomed in close!


08-04-2010, 06:25 PM

I love the landscape photo with the very tall tree and the house in the distance. I struggled (hard) at first in painting this...to focus on the house in back...which caught my attention. I wanted to draw the viewer to that house....but not leave the rest of the painting boring!

Nonetheless, at first I obsessed with details, and was ready to throw it in the trash!

Then a friend told me: "Don't be fussy!" He said there was toooooo much emphasis on details, that I needed to loosen up and focus on values, color, and leave out all the fussy little flowers, etc...to draw attention to the focal point.

So I went on a rescue mission and painted over most of the existing painting. Deborah Secor's gift to the art world provided so much insight on value ...so that it is easier to build focus:

Now, still skeptical about this one, I offer it so that others might feel encouraged.


08-04-2010, 09:39 PM

You have definitely accomplished the goal - the house is the focus of the painting! Not only are the hard edges in that area - but also the most intense color and the most value contrast!

And I must add, putting the focus on the most distant plane of a painting is very difficult. It is much more common to have the focal area in the mid or the foreground. So it is a real challenge!

Thanks for posting!


08-04-2010, 10:25 PM
Thank Don for all your input. You are the best! :heart:

I figured I tried a different photo, although I am not all that happy with it. I tried to make the boat the focus, but it seems is being robbed by the pier. Most likely by the color of it.

Is a very quick painting, just to work on the exercise, so is not my best. :o

08-04-2010, 10:27 PM
Greenbrier33 I love your painting! Definitively good focus on the house. I am all for painterly impressionistic styles, so I like your loose colors and impression.

08-05-2010, 06:30 AM
Likewise I love your painting. I picked up the boat right away as the focal point. The pier is fine to my eyes...believe the darker tone makes it recede.
Think you did well with the water, too. I sense the depth with value changes from foreground to rear. I have never painted water... so kudos to those of you who can!

Much appreciate your feedback and of course your time in hosting the challenge when you could be out painting in the last days of summer! :)

08-05-2010, 11:15 AM
Dave, great focus on the middle flower in your first painting. That's fantastic.

Maria, your close-up on the tomato has the focus on the stem and highlight, if you sharpened the stem a little more that would do it. Excellent painting, especially the softer edges on the fruit.

David Greenbrier, wow, you got the focus on that bright little house in the distance perfect. That's a great painting.

Maria, if you want the dock to be less distracting, cooling it and lightening it a bit as well as obscuring detail might help. I think it's that it's so dark that makes you see it as a focus, also the way individual boards are distinguished. Looser cool strokes lightening it with a blue-gray would bring it closer to the water in hue and value, making the boat with its black accents jump out more.

08-05-2010, 01:56 PM
Well, here's my first go at this Spotlight. I wanted to keep the focus on the tree, so I mostly did that by contrasting light and dark in the branches. The darkest darks in the tree and the lightest lights in the sky are contrasting. I blended some of the turquoise tint in the base of the sky down into the distant trees to mute and lighten them. Hope this works! I also cropped in closer to the tree than the reference did.

Sunny Summer Tree
5" x 7"
Pan Pastels
Darker gold ClaireFontaine PastelMat (Maize, I think is the color name.)
Photo reference by DAK723 for August 2010 Pastel Spotlight.

08-05-2010, 03:41 PM
Don great pictures, hope I would have time to participate. Thank you for hosting August Spotlight.

08-05-2010, 04:30 PM
Well, I'm a slow starter this month. I got carried away with a figure painting for the PGE Get Dusty challenge and I am using focus in that to draw the eye to the focal areas. Can't show it to you though!

Dave, I really love your Flowers! I have viewed them standing back from the screen and the painting is very impressive! Even more so with so few strokes!

Maria, Great Tomato! Did you try sharpening the stem as Don suggested? With that sharp focus and with the edges soft as you have them I think it would have a great impact. With the boat one I think the main focus does seem to be on the pier. Maybe because of the dark value and the detail on it. But maybe the boat is too near the tone of the water to really stand out. If I squint all I can really see is the outline. Artistic licence would allow you to make the boat a different colour...hmm, maybe I'll try that!

David, I love the colours you've used and that bright red roof really draws the eye to the little house. I think it works well!

Robert, what can I say. Your tree is fabulous! again viewed standing back from the screen it has such a natural quality and the sky is beautiful.

Ooh, you've all got me raring to go now! Don't know when I'll get one done though.

08-05-2010, 04:34 PM
Thank you, Ruthie! That's what blew me away. I wasn't too sure of it, but once I scanned it I saw it in thumbnail and it surprised me how natural it looked. I'm happy with how it came out. Still got the Pans handy too, might do another Pans one or go at the other piece of maize PastelMat with pastel pencils. Or both.

08-05-2010, 05:01 PM
Robert -- love it! I smiled right away.

You use realistic colors (the greens) and captured the focal point well with sharper contrasts and more developed lines. I like the value transition between shadows foreground and highlights middle ground, which send the viewer up to the tree and then back through the painting.

Appreciate your post, Dave

08-05-2010, 08:39 PM
Robert, outstanding! great colors, I also like the looseness of your marks, great job.

08-05-2010, 09:15 PM
Thank you! Using Pans, all those marks were experiments. They worked! I built it up in layers, first the sky and general color masses, then layering more colors on those masses and putting in the trunk, then layering foliage on and around the trunk and last highlights and details in the foreground vegetation, then the last highlights in the foliage. For once I've got enough sky holes!

08-05-2010, 09:56 PM
I've been watching this thread, and enjoying everyone's paintings. I'm not sure I will have the time to participate, but I'll try.

David, Beautiful job on the flowers. I especially like your background choice. Nice and loose too. Your tree painting is excellent - the focus definitely is on the house.

Maria, Excellent tomato. I like close-up's too, and this worked out well! Your boat is good also. I think it's good you put the greatest contrast by the boat and the dock, it leads to the focal point, the boat.

Robert, Awesome tree! Love your color pallet, and I think this is very strong, especially as I walk away from my monitor. Excellent! :thumbsup:

08-05-2010, 10:09 PM
Maria, very nice job on the boat and dock!

Robert, Your tree is very strong! There's no question that it stands out very strongly against the sky! One tiny thing to look at - the very light suggestion of flower (very light) against the base of the tree (very dark). That might be the single point of greatest contrast and might pull the eye a bit more than you want. Perhaps it makes a nice counter-balance. Not sure, but I thought I would let you take another look at it!


08-05-2010, 11:27 PM
Thank you! Don, I liked the flowers under the tree in that sun patch, but you may be right. Maybe if I go back in and carefully add some tints, turn them into pinkish and orange flowers, put a little warm color down there it'll be less of a distraction, more the setup that I intended it to be. I didn't place any of the white flowers directly against the dark but I may have followed the reference a little too closely.

I'll take a look in the morning. I like it at a distance, right now it's up on my cork board so I'm at some distance from it.

08-06-2010, 12:10 AM
Thanks everyone for the nice comments! :grouphug: Ruthie, thanks for the suggestion. As soon as I have time I will try to fix it. I have a very busy month! But I totally get what you are saying.

Robert, OMG I love your tree. Again painterly styles are my favorites, and I really love the colors you used. So bright. :clap: :clap: :clap:

Vivien Maloney
08-06-2010, 03:21 PM
Robert - Fabulous tree, great job with the Pans!

08-06-2010, 03:39 PM
Thank you! I'm still debating on the flowers. I like them in white, it keeps the harmony of the whole painting so well. Several people have commented that they like that patch of light in front of the tree, so I think I'll keep it. When I sit back at a distance, it doesn't seem to be too much.

08-08-2010, 12:25 PM
Managed to do one today. I didn't have much time so chose what I considered the easiest one (drawing wise anyway). Here are the Pears. Took me an hour and it's about 6"x6".
I'd be interested to know if I should have shaded out a bit more of the RH pear. What d'you think?


08-08-2010, 12:27 PM

08-08-2010, 12:34 PM
Weird! According to my other tab, this post hasn't even loaded once yet!!

08-08-2010, 02:44 PM
Hi Ruth,

Very nice job on the pears! Your question is a good one - regarding the focus of the pear on the right. You could always do another painting with that pear blurred a bit more - or you could blur the background pear a bit on this painting after the fact. (You could try it in photoshop first!) I do like the blurring of the far right side of that pear, making it disappear into the background.

There are some strange things happening with the migration. The site showed no activity on this thread since Aug. 6th. Other threads show no new posts although they are active. Not sure when this will all be resolved!


08-08-2010, 05:42 PM
I love your pears Ruthie! To me they look perfect, but hey, what do I know! :lol:

I too have been having problems with the site. I have not gotten any of my subscriptions for several days.

08-09-2010, 11:20 AM
Ruthie, I like your pears a lot. I think the dramatic lighting on the background pear makes it more of a focal point. So maybe try it again and soften the foreground one - that's accidental but it's a wonderful effect.

08-09-2010, 12:34 PM
I love your pears Ruthie! To me they look perfect, but hey, what do I know! :lol:

I too have been having problems with the site. I have not gotten any of my subscriptions for several days.

08-09-2010, 09:23 PM
Wow, really great paintings so far, really like the different ways they have been painted. I'm a bit late this month.. Finished the boat at the dock, very small one 4" x 4" green velour with pastel pencils and various semi-hard and soft pastels. :)

08-10-2010, 12:03 AM
Tammy, very nice!

08-10-2010, 05:01 AM
Thanks Don, Maria and Robert.
I shaded out the far pear's shaded area some more. This is new territory for me. Don't really know how to do this. Now I'll go back again and try your suggestion Robert. This is just a practice anyway so doesn't matter how it turns out.
Oh my photo gallery is playing up and wouldn't let me crop this one!


Good one Tammy! What do you think of velour?

08-10-2010, 11:18 AM
Tammy, Very nice! It's hard to get details on velour - especially that small! Nice job!

Ruth, Your pears are very dramatic. Lot's of hard and soft edges!


08-10-2010, 07:44 PM
Ruthie; Wow, I really like your pears really nice color choices!!!!:clap:

I finally finished the still life with fruit; really tough one, I may go back and fix some areas something doesn't look quite right...
Done on 8" x 5" white velour with pastels pencils and semi-hard and soft pastels.:o

08-10-2010, 08:03 PM
Great work everybody. I just read through the thread and looked at all the paintings and enjoyed looking at every one of them. I hope to join in the fun in the next few days.

Keep letting the dust fly.:thumbsup:


08-11-2010, 02:16 PM
Tammy, very nice. I specially like the counter!

08-11-2010, 02:56 PM
Tammy, Very nice! This is very much in focus. Those dark shadows accentuate the sharp focus of the piece.


08-11-2010, 03:06 PM
Tammy, good effort. I like the different textures you've produced. I passed over this one as it seemed so complicated but you've dealt with it very well.

I had another go at the Pears, incorporating Robert's suggestion of softening the front pear. I've had great fun with these pears and it's saved me starting a new painting!

The focus is now officially on the lit part of the back pear though I've kept focus on the Right side of the foreground pear as well.

Any other suggestions? There's plenty of tooth left so I can revise the focus again if I want to!


08-11-2010, 03:26 PM
OK, here's my first attempt! I chose the tree reference. I started by keeping with the reference (sort of) by having most of the painting in fairly sharp focus. The tree, the foreground and the overhanging framing leaves are all rendered with approximately the same hardness of edge. The background trees are softened, compared to the ref, and I have removed the house.


Now, this is probably where I would normally have stopped. It makes a pretty nice painting, in my own not particularly modest opinion!

But since we are experimenting with focus, let's see what happens when I blur the closest elements - the overhanging leaves.


I think that there is less focus on those leaves now - giving the main tree a bit more emphasis. Next I will soften the edges of the foreground just a little bit. I literally just touch down with my finger to slightly blend the pastel. I also wanted to reestablish a darker value for those overhanging leaves. I think the darker value will help reestablish more depth between those overhanging leaves and the main tree.


By just touching the flowers especially, I have reduced the intensity of the color. But the marks themselves are still fairly small and detailed. So, I try a slightly different approach, making those marks a bit larger, but soft edged.


In my view, the focus on the tree has been increased considerably. The only really hard edges are on the main tree. But which version makes the best painting??

As I mentioned in the opening, there is no right or wrong when it comes to focus. Each of my 4 versions is a little bit different. My progression from lots of focus to a much more selective focus seemed to work in making one element (the tree) more emphasized - and lessening the emphasis on other parts of the painting.

Some questions that I ask myself:

Is the tree interesting enough to make it the sole area of emphasis? Do I want a secondary area (the flowers) to be almost as important? Are more of the elements important enough so that they should remain more in focus?

I wish I had the answers! But these might the type of questions that determine how much focus you use!

Just to see them better, here are side by side comparisons:

Version 1 and 2:


Version 3 and 4:


Comments, Questions and Discussion welcome!


08-11-2010, 03:43 PM
Wow! Don, that's great showing the different paintings together. Food for thought definitely.
I really like the focused overhanging leaves, they are so well done. However, although it is a lovely painting, those leaves actually seem to draw the eye away fromn the other elements of the painting because they are so sharp and dark and prominent.
In the second it's almost a shame to see them go but I think, as you said, there is more emphasis on the tree itself.
Now, I have to say that I prefer the flowers in sharp focus in pic 2. I feel something has been lost from the painting when they are blurred down, either way you've shown it.
I think that, even in sharp focus, they play an important supporting role and are an exciting element of the painting. Maybe it is the case, in this scene, that the tree itself isn't interesting enough to be the star of the show. If it were in it's Autumn foliage then that may be different again!
My opinion, which has only been made possible for me to form by your great idea of showing us different options!

08-11-2010, 07:06 PM
Ruthie: Great update on the pears!
Don: Wow, great paintings on the trees; really like the way you handle the lights and darks-wow.:clap: :clap:
I re-worked some areas on the still life, I wsn't satified with the first one. Also did the still life pears on sanded paper ( not used to painting on sanded paper yet, seems hard to me) various soft and semi hard pastels.
Here also is the sunflowers, my version on black velour with various soft pastels. Great refs this month, Don; Thanks!!!:wave:

08-11-2010, 10:12 PM
Hello everyone. I've been lurking lately, but finally decided on a photo. I tried to use the direction of the leaves to lead the eye around, and to use more detail in the front two flowers. I was having trouble with the dreaded "holes" so I thought I'd better quit while I was ahead.


Various pastels and pastel pencils on bristol coated with golden pastel ground.

08-11-2010, 10:15 PM
Tammy, Very nice paintings! You have been so productive this month!

Ruth, Interesting that you prefer version #2. I, too, think this is the best version. I think the fact that the flowers are at the base of the tree - thus easily connected visually - makes the tree/flowers combination the most interesting focal area. If the flowers had been far removed from the tree then it may not work as well. In that case they may have competed with one another. Plus the fact that the flowers and the tree are also very close to the same distance away makes having them both in focus work well.

But it is not an easy answer, which version works best. I will be interested to hear what others have to say!


08-11-2010, 10:19 PM
Robin, Very nice! I think you've done a real nice job on the focus! The front two flowers do have the most focus, the third flower just subtly less, and then various increasing softening of the rest! The flowers really pop out of the dark background!


08-11-2010, 11:16 PM
Thanks Don for such clear examples. I agree with Ruthie for much the same reasons the first one appeals for it's sharpness but the second "focuses" our attention on rest of the painting which all works in harmony.

I am currently working on a painting which has been bothering me. It is of a painting with background trees of various depths and a boy in the foreground. After your example I realize the trees are all in focus so if I blurr some I think it will work better.

You have all done some lovely examples here and I hope to have a go soon. Jen

08-12-2010, 07:35 AM
Ruth, I forgot to comment on your latest pears! You have definitely put the focus on the back pear! I like this version!


08-12-2010, 01:39 PM
ArbySD I love your flowers. The yellow of them brings the up nicely on focus. I also like the bold colors you picked. :clap:

tvandeb nice job! You got a lot done in such little time! :wink2:

Ruthie, I think your pears are PERFECT! :thumbsup:

Don, what a wonderful painting, and a wonderful lesson! I personally like the version number 3 the best. Blurring the foreground some really focus on the tree, without diminishing the colors. The number 4 seems too dreamy, and number 2 is more realistic, but really a nice one. Just my opinion, no expert here though! :o

08-12-2010, 02:42 PM
Don, thanks for the photos and the lesson. I wasn't going to post this because I didn't put blurry edges to it and just wanted to have fun with it my way but Robert suggested that I should. So here it is.

Daler Rowney soft pastel
65 lb red cardstock with colorfix clear primer 8.5 x 11 inch


08-12-2010, 03:37 PM
Sandra, you found a way other than softening and blurring edges to bring the focus to his nose. In caricature, exaggeration also helps draw attention to a focal point - in this case his nose and then his sunglasses. The strongest contrast is between his sunglasses and his nose. The nose itself is very prominent. Lastly, you loosened up your strokes down toward the bottom on his shoulders, so the white highlight on his nose draws more attention than the white shirt he's wearing.

So you did a number of things to create interest in the focal point. You just didn't smudge or blur things to do it, that's all. The nose has the most layers of different colors too, along with the lenses of the sunglasses. I think you did a great job of directing focus.

08-12-2010, 03:51 PM
Abry; Gorgeous colors on your sunflowers.
Sandra; wow, really like your approach on the portrait! I have never done portraits so I always steer away from them- Very nice.:clap: :clap:

Don; Sure would be nice if you could do a step by step demo on how you capture lights to darks on trees; landscapes, I know me as a newbie to pastels could use a demo and I'm sure others could benefit also. Just a thought.

08-12-2010, 04:36 PM

Very nice! Remember, you don't need to make any edges blurry! Focus can be everywhere, too. That's one of the options. I do notice there is some variation in edges - the ears and the hat are not as sharp as many other areas. Zooming in this close also changes the focus in a way, too.


08-12-2010, 04:43 PM
Don; Sure would be nice if you could do a step by step demo on how you capture lights to darks on trees; landscapes, I know me as a newbie to pastels could use a demo and I'm sure others could benefit also. Just a thought.
Thanks, Deb, but I am nowhere near experienced enough to do a demo for a landscape. My landscapes are trial and error, with lots of choosing the wrong color then trying to fix things, etc!

Last month, Paula did a great demo which can be found here:


Hope this helps!


08-13-2010, 01:59 AM
Thank you, Robert, Tammy, Don for your comments. I had fun with him.

Here's one more.

Daler Rowney soft pastel
Derwent pastel pencil
65 lbs blue cardstock with colofix primer 8.5 x 11 inch
Only used half a page.


08-13-2010, 02:23 PM
Sandra. I like the close up of Don's Father. I think you've caught his look. With the other one you seem to have put the focus on the water. was that your intention? It's quite effective anyway!

08-13-2010, 02:27 PM
Very cool version of the dock and boat. I agree with Ruthie that the water's got more of the focus, it's beautiful.

08-13-2010, 03:40 PM
Sandra, Very nice! The intense blue of the water, with contrasting light colored "ripples" does put a lot of emphasis on the water. The boat, with those very intense, hard edged green strokes draws the eye very much as well!


08-13-2010, 04:23 PM
Well, as requested, I started to do a WIP (work in progress) - but, as you will see, I sort of abandoned the WIP fairly quickly as the painting was going nowhere! But I will show the first few steps as they might give you some ideas on one technique of starting a painting.

I never used a wet underpainting until a few months ago, but I have found that it is a good way to get the background colors onto the paper without having those colors mix and blend with what you paint over the top.

In this case I lay down the basic water and foreground color in pastel. Notice at this stage I already put in the variation in the water color. Then I brush some rubbing alcohol over the whole painting. I could also use water or paint thinner. Make sure your paper can handle wet techniques!


Next I look at the big general shapes. I want to put down a fairly dark color/value. I am not packing the color in. It is a bit loose - trying not to fill in the tooth.


I am putting down the dark colors first because the lighter colors are always on top of objects. For example, the dock has cracks between the boards, and perhaps other holes, nicks, textures. These are all below the top layer, so to speak, and in shadow. The same is true for rocks or trees - even grass. Below the topmost layer is shadow. So I put that shadow color in first. This way I can put the lights in on top. When I do, everyplace I leave a gap, the shadow color is there already! And the topmost layer of light is physically on top of the shadow, just as it really is. So, here I begin laying in lighter colors to depict the boards of the dock.


Now you can see on the farthest part of the dock, I have already laid in too much of the lighter colors, and the cracks between the boards are already obscured! So, as is often the case, I will still need to go back in with some darks later! But generally speaking, I am trying to work from dark to light.

Keep in mind that is one way to do it, but not the only way. I have done many paintings working from light to dark - and others starting in the middle!

At this point, I am trying to find the shapes that depict the light areas and the shapes that depict the shadows and the darks. Gradually, I try to get more precise and detailed. Some of the base colors will remain - if I do it right!

Unfortunately, I am not doing it right very often! I am continually using colors that are not working well. In the end, I use 10 or more pastels for the dock. The foreground, too, I rework over and over again. Luckily, I am using a sanded paper and can add layers fairly easily - but things are far muddier than I want, and it is hard to get a really light or dark value to show over the amount of muddy pastel that is already on the paper. Since I do not really want any evidence of my stumbling and bumbling, the camera has been put aside!

In the end, however, I get the painting to look OK. (It looks far better in the small photo than in real life!)

In terms of focus, I have tried to put the sharpest lines and details on the boat and far end of the dock. The foreground has blurrier lines and not much variation in value. The overhanging branches, too, are blurred.

Uart 500 grit paper, approx. 11' x 7". Assorted pastels including Mt. Visions, Giraults, Conte and one Polychromos.

Even though there is about 90 minutes of work between steps 3 and the final, it might be interesting to note that by putting in the basic big shapes first, the overall painting didn't change that much between steps 3 and 4. Just adding light and shadow and ultimately more details. In my case, it was reworked and redone over and over, but all within the basic shapes that were put down initially.

I hope this was of some help!


08-13-2010, 05:04 PM
Nice work Don! Thanks for showing the WIP and putting your comments about the stages. It all sounded so familiar! I may start off with a wet underpainting, then block in the darks, then add other colours.....which look wrong so I add more, go back in with the darks, put more colour on....layer and layer 'til it looks right! I'm so glad I'm not the only one!
But in the end it's turned out very well, despite you failing to show us pics of the "ugly" stages, lol.

Paula Ford
08-13-2010, 09:32 PM
Don! Another gorgeous painting! You are just spitting them out!!

08-13-2010, 09:47 PM
Don: thanks for the link; I missed the tutorial last month, very helpful. Thanks Paula!:clap:

08-14-2010, 02:25 AM
Thank you, Ruthie, Robert, and Don for your comments. I actually wanted to focus on the bottom of the boat and give it a different perspective but I failed to do so.

08-14-2010, 08:34 AM

Love the boat painting. Funny that you released it the same day they were playing the latest Friday the 13th movie...which is based on a place called Crystal Lake. I couldn't help but look under the dock for Jason... you know... just in case!

The technique is excellent. Focus is clearly on the boat and end of the dock. Your descriptive stages are very helpful.


08-14-2010, 01:14 PM
Firstly, apologies to Don. This looks nothing like your Dad....in fact it looks nothing like a human being really!! One hour, 1/2 sheet of canson paper (smooth side) and the plan was to focus on the head, arms and trunk. had to get rid of those black socks Don! Now I look I wonder if the BG grasses have become the focus. If you stand WELL back and squint furiously it doesn't look too bad!


Oh dear...just looked at it again. So Sorry Don!!

Then I did the boat and dock. OK my idea was to bring in some mist but it didn't work. However, the top foliage is soft focus and so are the extremities of the dock. The grasses are in focus and I've tried to make the water near the boat more focused. I quite like it. Other half of canson sheet....2 hours.


08-14-2010, 02:55 PM
Thanks everybody for your comments!

Ruth, No apologies needed - this is instantly recognizable as my Dad! And you've done a nice job of focusing on the upper body. The chair is just suggested, but it is enough. Our minds do an excellent job of filling in the rest!

Your boat painting is excellent! I wish I could have been looking over your shoulder so I would know how to improve mine! Your use of focus is great!


08-14-2010, 03:47 PM
Ruth, Love you pastels ... when can I take a lesson with you?

Don, Thanks for showing how to to this boar on the dock. i found it a little hard to make it look good, but you nailed it!

gakinme I like your airy version of the dock. Makes me feel refreshed! And your old man just makes me smile! I absolutely love it!

08-15-2010, 08:33 AM
Phew, thanks Don! I still don't think it looks like him but have let myself off the hook as it's so hard to get the features right so small. One day I'll be one of these artists who can just put in a few casual lines and blocks of colour and the face appears looking just like the subject!
If you had been looking over my shoulder with the boat painting you would've laughed at how I work and overwork and then realise that I'm using canson and the tooth is full!
Maria, thanks for your lovely comment! Give me another 50 years to learn enough and I'll give you a lesson....lol

08-15-2010, 11:52 AM
Ruthie, both of these are great. You did get the likeness of Don's dad so well. I agree with you on the black socks, turning them white completely changed the way the bottom of the painting works and drove attention back up to his face. His well proportioned, accurately painted and beautifully expressed face, I should say. The likeness is there and the painting is excellent.

Your boat painting is interesting and that succeeded well. I wasn't sure I even wanted to tackle that one, because its composition is so weird. It's framed by the grasses at the bottom and the foliage at the top. What you've done with it works - the boat is a clear center of focus and the border elements aren't distracting. Well done!

08-15-2010, 01:01 PM
Thanks Robert. I totally get what you mean about the comp of the boat one. You'll notice I brought the top trees nearer the boat (as I think did everyone else) as it was such a long way between them and the action in the photo.

Looking forward to seeing another one from you maybe?

08-16-2010, 12:58 PM
Maria, thanks for your lovely comment! Give me another 50 years to learn enough and I'll give you a lesson....lol

You are too modest. I think you've just about got it made! :D

08-16-2010, 11:46 PM
Hi everyone!

I wasn't able to see any images that come chronologically before Robert's wonderful tree. :(

Robert: I love the stroke work of your tree. I studied the play of greens--it looks like you used 5 values? Not so many, and yet, what an impact what you chose makes! Sometimes I think I "muddy things" by using too many colors. :( I'm just really loving the strength and the vitality of your painting!

Ruthie: you amaze me, you do. My gosh, you are prolific! And good! My goodness! Love your last set of pairs--they absolutely glow in the golden light!

I disagree about Don's Dad--I think it absolutely ressembles him!

The boat scene was fantastic! That is the one that I tried my hand with, and am glad I didn't see that you spent all of two hours on yours until I was almost done with mine (I spent over three hours just on boat part alone. Lord have Mercy!) :lol: The boat, the water, the reflections on the water--all fantastic. One of the things I learned from looking at your treatment is that you were not a slave to the photo, in that in the photo, I didn't see a lot of light reflected in the reflected shadow of the dock, and so I didn't put it in mine. But I think your treatment of putting in a bit of reflected light in the reflected shadow of the dock is both more "realistic" and more interesting.

I agree with Sunlight: can I take a class with you? :)

Don: Thank you for organizing this! It's a lot of work and wonderful for you to do so. I really love the boat and dock photo! And I loved your step-by-step how to! That was excellent! In the finished painting, I love the actual boat. It has a sense of peace and quietude. It is the way a person remembers such a boat--do you know what I mean? It is the way a person feels about such a boat. I also learned from your treatment about simplifying the details. For instance, in the actual picture, the inside of the boat is a little chaotic. In your treatment, you simplfy that and make the bench more easy to read. I didn't do this in mine, and I should have. I guess, not knowing boats too much, I didn't actually understand via the picture what was in the boat exactly. But looking at your painting, I get it!

It's funny--yours is definitely an "evening light"--don't you think? And Ruthie's is definitely a 3:00 or 4:00 light. It's fun to see different treatments by different artists of the same subject!

Want to comment on the "lurker" and her wonderful flowers, and the lovely fruitbowl and others, but must run to the store before it closes! Thanks all for sharing!

08-17-2010, 01:17 AM
Okay, I'm back.

Tammy--I like your fruit! I thought about doing the first one you did, but it looked "hard" to me! What I especially like about yours is the granite--i think you got it exactly right, which is much harder than it seems. Specifically,the way the "grain" is with all the little pieces of color. The degree that you used to draw your marks is spot-on, so it looks right.

Crystal is tough--good job on that, too! I also see the way you are working the reflections on the pears!

Robin--glad you "De-lurked" to post your painting! It is really beautiful. I especially like the deep darkness of the negative space. The flowers themselves are lovely--love the varigated color approach to the petals. You did a good job of rendering the petals in a direction that makes sense, which I think is hard to do. Mine tend to look, in the words of another WCer here, a little "wonky."

Side note to Don: I can only see one page worth of posts at a time; if I "go advanced" I just see the last page. And since I want to look at everyone's work, that means I'm posting my reply and then going to the next page and replying to those on that page. Hope this isn't considered "spamming" the list. Let me know if I'm running afoul--

08-17-2010, 01:23 AM

OMG, I LOVE Don's Dad! That is excellent! He looks very cool!

One of the fun things about painting, as Don pointed out in another thread, is the ability to change things, re-imagine them, etc. I think the portrait you did really excels in giving a feeling of personality to the subject. It has a very Timothy Leary/Hunter Thompson kind of feel, which I love here. It has humor and vibrancy. I think Don's Dad would enjoy this portrait!

I also like your boat painting. What I learned from that was how you cropped it. It didn't occur to me to do that. Why not, I wonder? I need to loosen up and think more out of the box. Thank you for helping me do so!

08-17-2010, 11:26 AM
Thanks again Maria!

Anne-Marie, thank you for your comments! What you said reminds me of me a year or two back. I would spend AGES on detail, each painting took forever....but when you paint as much as I do you really do speed up and I've noticed that a lot letely. You also said about being a slave to the photo....this was me too, if it didn't look the same as the photo it wasn't a good painting. Now, although I don't have the imagination to deviate too much from a photo, I change, omit or add to the scene if i think it will make a better painting.

Did the flowers today (2 hours) and thought I'd put a different angle on it. I liked the little rose so I made it a bit bigger and added a companion for it. The painting still needed more to focus on I thought so I made one of the Rudbeckias focused. So ths is a sort of mid ground focus one. Not sure if it works?


08-17-2010, 11:38 AM
Another gorgeous one, Ruthie! I love your treatment of the roses especially. I am just beginning to understand how to render flowers--I think it is a whole genre-onto themselves, and something that LOOKS deceptively easy but certainly isn't!

As for the focus question: I don't know what "Rudbeckias" is, so I can't answer to that. I thing the eye goes on a diagonal from the larger rose, the leaf with the white highlights, and the middle sunflower. Maybe there is a "fight for attention" --at least for me--because I am so drawn by the larger rose--the details of it and the colors, while the sunflower via it's size proclaims dominance, and the contrast of the highlight and leaves also makes a claim. Still, it's lovely and I really enjoy looking at it!

Thanks for the kind words and assurance!

08-17-2010, 11:55 AM
Here is my try. Last month I tried the "trees" challenge--much harder than it looked, and the result was, well, the term "one hot mess" does come to mind. :lol: I guess I'm not much of a landscape girl. I couldn't resist Don's photo, though, along with the excellent step-by-step instructions which, though I didn't follow, interested me greatly. Because of my hang up with actual drawing, I find that I need to sketch in the main elements before I go to color. But I liked seeing Don's color swatch approach. :)

Enjoyed rendering the water the most--am discovering that what I really like is working with color and texture. The grass was harder than it looked but satisfying to develop. I re-did the branches on the top after seeing Ruthie's treatement. I liked her soft look, so I took a stiff brush to the trees to give a softer focus to them (and to take the overall focus off them).

That boat . . . wow. So simple looking, and yet it gave me NO END of grief. As I mentioned in my response to Ruthie, I had to spend AT LEAST three hours on it, drawing and re-drawing and scrubbing out and starting over. Finally I sat back and asked what Travis would do. Travis (Jensen--he is an illustrator) is one of my professors at school, whom I owe a huge debt to, as he is the one who really taught me how to draw. And I realized: Travis would ask (and rather gruffly, too!): Where's your vanishing point? And so I looked at the original photo and located the vanishing point for the boat--on the "horizon" and off to the right. Okay then! I found the same spot on my piece and marked it with a bit of pastel. Then I got out my old 24" RULER and built up the image, one plane at a time. The angle looked all wrong but I kept at it and once I'd made the "box" of the boat, I saw that the angle looked okay. STILL had to make corrections several times--making the boat shorter in length, making it narrower in width, making it deeper in the front--but I think in the end it's okay. It looks like a boat! But please: Don't even mention the motor! That's too much! I'm not going there!:lol:

08-17-2010, 12:47 PM
Anne-Marie that is a very nice piece! I found the boat at the dock the most difficult to do.

Ruth, what can I say? BEAUTIFUL. I worked on a daisy myself, but I am kind of shy to put it here after your work! :o I made the background really blurry, so I would focus on the flower alone. I will take a second look at it, see if I can improve on it.

08-17-2010, 01:36 PM
Anne-Marie, I think your boat was worth the work! As far as perspective goes it's spot on for sure. You have also distinguished the boat well from the water. Ah, the water.....beautifully done! You should be proud of this. It's good work (next one will take you less time, I promise!)

As for my flowers, thanks for your comments. The "sunflowers" are actually Rudbeckias, not sunflowers. Trust me, I'm a gardener! I get what you say about the fight for attention. I think I may soften the leaf in between the flowers and see if that helps.

As for the Rose...I agree that a detailed close up rendition of a Rose is difficult (but fun) but this was easy. I just put a red blob in the middle and hinted at darker lines within that blob. Then curving strokes of an orange, pink and yellow to portray the petals. If you look closely at it you will see it's pretty loose really but hopefully gives the impression of a little rose. OK that's your first lesson from me....lol

Maria, thank you once again!

Please post your work here. That's what the Spotlight is for. It's not a competition, just a challenge. And I can assure you that doing these challenges is a way to improve your skills!!!

08-17-2010, 02:18 PM
Ann-Marie, Thanks for all your nice comments! Your boat painting is very nice! Boats are difficult! It's those subtle curves that are hard to get!

It's perfectly OK to sketch things out first before going to color. I have gotten to the point (after many years) of sketching very loosely with the pastels and then blocking in those big shapes.

Ruth, I like your flowers very much! You have succeeded in putting the focus on the small roses and the middle Rudbeckia! (They are commonly called Black Eyed Susans over here - I don't know why!)

Maria, I hope you will consider posting your paintings!


08-17-2010, 03:25 PM
Thanks again Maria!

Anne-Marie, thank you for your comments! What you said reminds me of me a year or two back. I would spend AGES on detail, each painting took forever....but when you paint as much as I do you really do speed up and I've noticed that a lot letely. You also said about being a slave to the photo....this was me too, if it didn't look the same as the photo it wasn't a good painting. Now, although I don't have the imagination to deviate too much from a photo, I change, omit or add to the scene if i think it will make a better painting.

Did the flowers today (2 hours) and thought I'd put a different angle on it. I liked the little rose so I made it a bit bigger and added a companion for it. The painting still needed more to focus on I thought so I made one of the Rudbeckias focused. So ths is a sort of mid ground focus one. Not sure if it works?

I think your boat came out great. It's definitely the focal point and you got great dimension and depth on it. Boats are difficult and it's almost more serene that you turned it into a rowboat, it's more relaxing that way. You might have done that for convenience but that adds to the serenity of the painting and gives it some theme... peace and quiet.

Ruthie, the experiment worked beautifully! The mid-area focus is fantastic - detailing the rudbeckia helped draw attention back toward the roses so well. It's great! You're really getting this challenge!

Anne-Marie, thanks for your comments on my tree. Yeah, I use fewer values and colors in foliage than I used to but I like strong values, so it works out well. I like strong contrasts and noticed yesterday when I saw my paintings in a gallery with a lot of other artists that mine stood out for having deep darks and intense contrasts.

08-18-2010, 05:27 PM
Ruth, you are so funny. Iknow is not a competition! :D :D

08-20-2010, 12:26 AM
So I just finished my daisy. I tried again a more close up approach ... I do not like very much how my background turned out. I was trying to make it blurry, so the total focus would be on the flower, but it did not turned out so well.


08-20-2010, 04:10 PM
Maria, I think you achieved what you were after. the focus is definitely on the flower. It pops out and says "look at ME". I like the way you've shown the 2 petals of another flower in the LH bottom corner, pointing to the centre of attention.
Good one!

08-20-2010, 05:03 PM
I like it. Well done. The faint leaf at the bottom showing soft veins is interesting.

08-20-2010, 05:10 PM
Maria, this is very well done! The focus is definitely on the flower! There is no doubt about it! The stems are less focused and the background is very subdued and, well, in the background! Thanks for posting!


08-21-2010, 02:26 PM
Ruthie, absolutely love your rendition of Don's father. So recognizable at once and has character too. I also like how the flowers pop out in yours waiting to be adored with a very green background. Very graphic like.

Maria, I like your simple one flower. Direct and cheery. I was ready to try that and then the insides of the flower baffled me. :lol:

Don, love the color of your boat. A bit after the sun set. Very romantic. The colors attracted me at once.

Anne-Marie, did you paint it purposely to looked like a curled painting. Wow, impressive. Again, the color of the boat is very pretty.

Alright, exactly a year and eight months ago, Paula posted something very similar to this photo that Don posted but with much more profusion of pinks and purples and back then, neither did I have good colored pastels (SMi pastels with neon colors) nor did I have sanded surface and was pulling my hair out when it just didn't seem to come out right. Now that I have a second chance to do reflection, I'm glad I have time this time to try something similar again.


I have bought this set of 100 pcs of Rowler Daley soft pastels and I don't know what to do with all these entire rows of 30 pcs of green and yellows when I don't even do green scenery. I could always do self portraits with those colors but too much I'd look like Frankenstein. Today, I finally got to use at least five shades of green. Very pleased to get to know greens finally.

65 lbs khaki green cardstock primed with clear Colorfix pastel ground 8.5 x 11 inch

My purported focus was on the middle band. I think I have come a long way. Looking at what I did 20 months and now, it's such a comfort that I am finally improving.


08-21-2010, 10:16 PM
Maria, I think you succeeded in placing the focus by contrast and color. Warms bouncing right out at me make the flower the central focal point and it's also the strongest contrast of light and dark. The greens of the background fade back well and seem much less intense than the saturated warms of the flower. The flower's the lightest, brightest element and the center is the darkest, still intense in color and analogous. Your painting worked as a focus demo and it's got a freshness I love, it's got a great feeling to it.

Sandra, thank you for showing your earlier painting. I'm stunned at how much you've grown - and love the way your new one came out. Pretty good focus on the shoreline too, more detail there and that bright green pine makes a good center of interest - the pinks near it make it even greener. Very cool painting. It works well, and seeing it next to the one in the SMI, wow! Yep. You did need good pastels and on top of that, you really know how to use them better now.

08-21-2010, 10:18 PM
Hi Sandra! Improving...yes!! And the focus is definitely on the middle band! Nicely done!


08-22-2010, 08:52 PM
Thanks everyone for the nice comments!

Robert, you see things in a way that I am always impressed. I tend to just go with my gut, and sometimes I do not think about what I want as an end result. You are a great teacher! :wink2:

Sandra, I think your is very lovely. I specially like the the reflection and I agree with Don that the focus is in the middle. I like your loose strokes!

08-23-2010, 06:17 AM
Sandra, yes you've improved immensely (tho' I love your use of colour in the first one). I like the complimentary reds and greens in this one too.

08-23-2010, 03:23 PM
Havent posted in a while, but have been following all these wonderful posts....
Sandra....love your sketches..
Sunface...your daisy is vibrant...wanted mine to, but it didnt...
Everyone is doing so well...sorry not to comment on each...
I finally am getting the courage to post my flower picture....didnt turn out the way I wanted it to, just couldnt seem to get the brightness I wanted on the paper whose background was an alcohol wash....
but here it is...

08-24-2010, 01:26 PM
Judi, Very nice! The flowers may not be as bright as you wanted, but they still are bright enough to be the focus of the painting! I'm not sure what type of pastels you are using, but one often needs fairly soft pastels to layer and get lots of intensity or brightness.


08-24-2010, 02:57 PM

I also think that is a nice start! I would say that maybe you need more layers on top, and that might be why you are not happy. I was always afraid to mess it up with more, but actually I found out that as long as the paper takes it, the more the merrier! Also what paper did you use?

I used to have the same problem when I started, which was not that long ago! :lol:

08-29-2010, 08:27 PM
Judi, your flowers are bright and lively. I think it's very intense, the overall effect is soft but the flowers definitely hold as a focal point. You could add more layering to get a different effect but I'd suggest sticking to analogous colors on the flowers themselves, you've got a great start there.

08-29-2010, 10:50 PM
Fantastic lighting on these pears....

Managed to do one today. I didn't have much time so chose what I considered the easiest one (drawing wise anyway). Here are the Pears. Took me an hour and it's about 6"x6".
I'd be interested to know if I should have shaded out a bit more of the RH pear. What d'you think?


08-30-2010, 12:58 PM
Hi all, I haven't posted on this thread at all; too swamped at work, and then just marching to a different drummer but had to laugh out loud at Anne-Marie's comment!

Don, I don't know if posting a picture of your pop was quite fair. Lots of pressue. So would he have enjoyed a comparison to Timothy Leary?:lol:

Some awesome work here from everyone! GREAT stuff Ruthie, Sandra, Robin, Don, Judi, Maria!! Maybe I can turn something out tonight and make the deadline...