View Full Version : The Spotlight - December 2011 - Happy Holidays

11-30-2011, 11:03 PM
Welcome artists! :clap:

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 Image 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.

This month’s Spotlight is on…Happy Holidays!

Well, this month's Spotlight isn't really on the Holidays - I just want to thank everyone for their participation in the thread and send out Holiday Greetings!

Since the holiday season is such a busy time, I thought we'd just take it easy and relax this month. No new lessons or compositional challenges - just some nice reference photos to work from any way you want!

So, I went through the reference library - and my own pictures from 2011 - and picked out some favorites! I've tried to get a nice variety - I hope everyone likes at least a few!

Enjoy...and Happy Holidays!

Photo by She-She

Photo by stephie20

Photo by SweetHuia

photo by yahooserious

Photo by Late Bloomer

Photo by me

Photo by me

Please post your paintings here in this thread!



11-30-2011, 11:47 PM
PURR! Don, you put a cat in for me! Thank you! Actually I like them all in their own quirky way, you just have an eye for great references or taking them. Even the lemons one looked interesting. But of course I've got to do that cat this December, no question about it! I love the angle of the head.

12-01-2011, 02:06 AM
Cool pictures. Thanks Don I will have a go at one or more hopefully.l

12-01-2011, 02:40 AM
Love the pictures several there I fancy thanks Don. I just hope I can make some time to play. Don't you just hate having to work for a living when all you want to do is play :-(


12-01-2011, 03:26 AM
PURR! Don, you put a cat in for me! Thank you
And trees for me! thank you!
I have enough to do this month but I will try a tree :wave:

12-01-2011, 03:42 AM
Happy Holidays everyone!
Don, you're a star!! I have a Cat commission to do. One of the Cats is in a similar position to this (but flipped). He has his tongue out licking his nose in the ref so I have made up a closed mouth for him. It looks OK but this photo will really help me to make sure it is. How did you know???
Usually I would do the Cat one but, maybe not after having to do this commission! I will try and do at least one though.
Thanks as always!

12-01-2011, 10:28 AM
Thanks Don! I may have to pull a change up and try the cat. I've never done a cat, and my attempts at a dog were dismal, but I know I'd get some great pointers here.

On the other hand, I have more Christmas cookies on my easel...:evil:

12-01-2011, 11:53 AM
Happy Holidays from me too.
I will participate the first time this time and I am sure I will find a great photo. Thank you Don.

12-01-2011, 12:34 PM
Happy Holidays to you Don and to everyone! Wonderful, inspirational photos, they've got me ready to get out to the studio, turn the heat on for Zerd, and get to work.

12-01-2011, 05:06 PM
Oooh a tough choice. You have some great photos to choose from Don. Think I'm going to have a go at one this month. Cheers!

And wishing everyone at Wet Canvas a wonderful and peaceful holiday season.

12-02-2011, 04:50 PM
Seasons greetings to You Don and thanks for all the great work you are doing here and all the advice that you have provided me with over the past few months.

12-03-2011, 02:29 PM
Happy Holidays, everyone!
If life hands you lemons...paint a few.


12-03-2011, 10:16 PM
David - Very nice! Very painterly! Thanks for starting us off!


12-03-2011, 10:16 PM
another month, another spotlight!
I've been reading deborah secor's landscape book, so hopefully i can put some of it to good use here.

12-04-2011, 05:35 AM
Hi all

Just studying the ref photo from Late Bloomer trying to put off actually having to start and is it me or does any one else see the face looking back laughing in the bushes on the right near the shoreline? unless its just my fear of starting :confused:


12-04-2011, 05:38 AM
Sorry meant bushes on the left


12-04-2011, 12:37 PM
Hi all,

I haven't set goals yet but did manage to do one spotlight painting. It is done with Sennelier Pastel and Pastel Pencils of PastelMat. The size is 8 x 10. Your C&C is welcome. Thanks, Cali

P.S. Now that I've posted it, I think I need to repost a sharper photo with some corrections. Can't do it now. So lets call this a WIP.

12-04-2011, 02:32 PM
I think this second photo of painting might be better. Thanks, Cali

12-04-2011, 08:44 PM
Yes, the 2nd photo is better! Very nice painting!


12-04-2011, 10:37 PM
David, your lemons are gorgeous and painterly. Thanks for kicking off this month's Spotlight! They're so beautiful. I like the background, was studying how you played with color and created that cool texture behind the objects. The whole painting is great.

Cali, yours are lovely too. I like the second photo better. Very cool how you did the shadows. The bucket looks great, especially the inside of the bucket and the handle, you got some interesting textures on it and gave it some good depth.

The fruits on both of yours are spectacular. You've got me itching to do something for this - maybe a warm up to working on my cat commissions.

So here we go - a cat sketch to warm up to my cat commissions.

Cat - Pastel Spotlight
5" x 6"
Pastel pencil on Stillman & Birn Delta sketchbook
Photo reference by SweetHula posted in December 2011 Pastel Spotlight

12-05-2011, 07:22 AM
Don, always grateful for your continued hosting and c&c

Robert, handsome start to the cat!
With the lemons, I wanted to bring some excitement into an otherwise dull background. Hoped that cooler violets would contrast against the warmer yellows, with textures adding interest. I got too much scumbling in some areas though--distracting. I opted not to detail the bucket....It's beautiful in photo; yet feared it would compete with the lemon focal points. Also tried Something Charlie said about letting background colors become shadows...trying to understand that more too.

Cali, love your interpretation! Shadows built nice contrasts to your focal points. You've done a great job with the bucket and found a way to make it team up with the lemons. I understand how cameras distort .... Never like the real thing!

12-05-2011, 08:39 AM
Don and Robert, thank you for your comments. I was going to pass on the kitty, but you make t look so easy that I'm going to try that next.

David, I loved your painting. I only wish I could talk about what I intended like you, but the truth is I just paint by instinct. I can't explain my reasoning other than trying to paint what I see. The only thought I had was to use complimentary colors with the lemons for shadowing and background.

Thanks once again all! Cali

12-05-2011, 09:07 AM
David, wonderful painting of the lemons and I like the quote too! :) Cali, fantastic use of colors and shadow, I so enjoy your work!

Robert, as always, you've done a fantastic job on the cat - he looks like such a content kitty,

12-05-2011, 08:13 PM
Purr thanks for all your comments on my cat sketch! I love the photos this month, might be a few days before I do another one though. Must work on commissions first.

12-05-2011, 09:53 PM
Robert, Great cat sketch! Economical and assured. It's obvious you know your cats!


12-06-2011, 04:20 PM
Great-looking lemons so far....! All very impressive.
and the cat, Robert...always a winner...

I tried the lemons, but did not have much success in making them look like lemons....a real 'lemon' of a rendition...

12-06-2011, 05:46 PM
Judibelle, I like this. The middle lemon especially looks good, the color shifts on it are excellent. I know that feeling of not trusting your own work that much, but you're improving a lot. Bucket shape looks good!

Still Life with Lemons
3" x 5" approx.
Hard pastels
Stillman & Birn Delta ivory multimedia journal paper.
Photo reference by She-She posted in December Pastel Spotlight

12-06-2011, 06:40 PM
Judy, very nice lemons. I like the color variations.
Robert,also well done. I like the texture you achieved with the hard pastels. Cali

12-06-2011, 08:33 PM
Purr thank you! Sometimes it's fun to just work on unsanded paper and smudge my background textures. I did quite a lot of mixing on this one.

12-07-2011, 03:45 AM
Ah, the Lemons take off first! I like all of these. Each person's individuality shines through in their paintings. Robert, great Cat as usual!
Well, this morning at my art group I will be doing the Cherries on black paper. I've never done Cherries (don't think so anyway) and it's high time I did!

12-07-2011, 09:43 AM
Robert and Judibelle, such great lemons! Judi, I think your lemons look very lemon-y, nice job! Robert, very dynamic drawing, lots of life in your still life!

12-07-2011, 05:22 PM
Judi, very nice! I like the composition and shadows.

Robert, the light in yours is so well done. I got the sense of light source easily. The dimples on the lemon ends are nice, too. Cool blues in the shadows....

12-07-2011, 08:01 PM
Judi and Robert, Nice job on your paintings! The lemons look like lemons to me - and the paintings are definitely not lemons!


12-07-2011, 08:23 PM
Thanks, everyone, for your comments.
Robert, I particularly like the colors you used....and the shadows are great.

...hope to get another one done before the month is over...

12-07-2011, 10:06 PM
Finished the kitty - the photo was taken inside my shop with really bad lighting. I'll take another photo in natural light once the rain stops pouring.


12-07-2011, 11:04 PM
Finished the kitty - the photo was taken inside my shop with really bad lighting. I'll take another photo in natural light once the rain stops pouring.



Absolutely incredible. I showed this to some friends. We all agree--expert. Thŕnks for posting!

12-07-2011, 11:07 PM
Oh wow! Your cat is spectacular, looks so feral and alert! Wonderful characterization, spot on accuracy. Beautiful.

12-08-2011, 03:14 AM
Beautifully done NCGirl!

12-08-2011, 01:39 PM
:clap: had an hour spare today (away from my commission) so I finished this which I started at art group yesterday. OK, I know the patterns on the table are out.....that's what comes of not drawing it out first and, being on canson, I've run out of tooth to really do those justice (only put them in to explain the shadows on the bowl).

Black canson, smooth side, with Unison and rembs. It's about 8x7" I think. Haven't measured it.


12-08-2011, 04:13 PM
Love it Ruth! Luscious!

12-08-2011, 05:28 PM
Ruth, Robert, and David, thanks so much for your kind comments! You guys are so encouraging and supportive!

Ruth, what lovely cherries! I'm really impressed with the shimmer on the bowl, hard to do! Bravo!

12-08-2011, 06:59 PM
ncgirl, your kitty is stunning! I started it, but am getting frustrated with the fur. I will persevere and whatever happens, Oh Well!!!! Once again, yours is lovely.

Ruthie, I love your reflections on the bowl. I hadn't thought of trying this one because I thought there was too much bowl, but you proved me wrong. Lovely bowl of cherries. Cali

12-08-2011, 07:13 PM
ncgirl, Excellent painting of the cat. Every aspect is beautifully done!

Ruth, Wonderful job with the bowl of cherries!


12-09-2011, 03:49 AM
:clap: had an hour spare today (away from my commission) so I finished this which I started at art group yesterday. OK, I know the patterns on the table are out.....that's what comes of not drawing it out first and, being on canson, I've run out of tooth to really do those justice (only put them in to explain the shadows on the bowl).

Black canson, smooth side, with Unison and rembs. It's about 8x7" I think. Haven't measured it.


Ruthie, this is spectacular! I love it. The reflections are fantastic, the cherries so rich that I could reach in and grab one. I can almost taste them. I like what you did with the patterns on the table, they're enough to make the reflections make sense and also make an eye-path. Wonderful crop. Love it!

12-09-2011, 04:14 AM
Thanks all. They were fun to do (light relief from the commission). Today when I dry up over the commission I'm going to start the roses, this time on black colorfix. But I will try to make this a "serious" one so it may not get posted for some time.

12-09-2011, 10:39 AM
I made a start on the Rose one. I haven't used colorfix for ages, maybe not since I've had my Unisons. I made the mistake of using them for the first layers. The colours are so much richer than the rembs and AS pastels.
Anyway, it's done now. I have a feeling that colorfix will not take as many layers as P mat or Fisher 400. Maybe this is just because it sucked in so much pastel, despite my trying to be very gentle.

Not sure what to do with the BG, leave it black or put some dark colour in. I think I'll put some colour in the foreground. Any ideas.

Here it is so far


12-09-2011, 12:06 PM
Everyone is doing so well this month and I still haven't got do do one!
Ncgirl that cat is just amazing.
Ruthie love those cherries and I think the lines work. The roses are beautiful too.I like the dark background but you will need to ground the eggcup in a minimal way. Good stuff!
I am off to Dallas for the week for the grandsons birthday so I don't know when I will get any drawing done!

12-09-2011, 01:31 PM
Finally made a start on one...

12-09-2011, 01:57 PM
good work , all . :)

Ruthie , the two flowers seem most complete ,
and there are two different textures !?!
both of which i like !
with that in mind , i cropped the image at the upper half of the vase .
> it may have possibilities .


the issue of the tabletop is gone , the background is okay , so ,
those textures might be more fun to explore .

... just a thought ...

Ed :}

12-09-2011, 02:22 PM
Al - we cross-posted :D

Great nuance so far !
so much so that at this point i worry about those long straight lines .
> with that long trunk on the right ,
the base is understandable simply by value/colour notes
and the upper 2/3 is stark by comparison .
> i like how the Middle values are working together .
= what i understand as how blocking a scene
has an abstract quality of it's own ...

look forward to your update :)

Ed :}

ps. sortta like having one foot on either side of the fulcrum
rather than one seat on a teeter-totter :D

12-09-2011, 04:25 PM
Oh wow! Two great paintings begun. Ed, your landscape's going to be magnificent. I love the layout and rich colors, the masses of the trees read so natural even at this stage. Ruthie, that rose is incredible even at this stage, the petals so delicate, depth and light established, it's wonderful. Agree that if you don't use Ed's crop you need to do something to create a surface for the vase to be on, at least minimally.

Can't say about Colourfix and layers since you layer more than I do. I've done entire paintings with Unisons on Colourfix but I haven't carried the layering as far as yours, it's glorious.

12-09-2011, 10:05 PM
Ruth, Nice start on the flowers! I would consider a colored background (rather than black) which would allow you to add touches of that BG color into the flower's shadows. Of course, you could add colors into the shadows anyway, even with a black BG!

SoulBro, Wonderful start on yours! Personally, I think it looks good as a finished piece! Wonderfully organic and graceful tree shapes!


12-10-2011, 02:13 AM
SoulBro and Ed, sorry I got you mixed up. I got the names mixed up but I love that painting. SoulBro, it's gorgeous.

Sigh. Yep. That would be me having symptoms again. I feel so embarrassed.

12-10-2011, 04:35 AM
thanks robertsloan2...i figured there was a mixup from the content of your post, its all good. making my way through this one, trying some colors i normally dont use...since my palette is organized and clean now!

12-10-2011, 11:41 AM
Really beautiful Ruthie! They look totally eatable and have a transparent quality to them. Great.

12-10-2011, 12:42 PM
thanks Folks. Ed, That's interesting. I may go with a similar crop. I'll see when I get back to it.
Soulbro, This is coming on great. You're pretty good at trees!
Karin, so where's yours then?

12-10-2011, 12:44 PM
Al - shame on me :rolleyes:
your painting has juice !
> looks like a winner :)

Ed :}

12-11-2011, 09:52 AM
WIP strathmore pastel block, 26x33cm.
I'm enjoying my new fling with pastels, but find them extremely challenging. I'd be very happy to receive C&C---need all the help I can get. http://www.waxlander.com/artist/56/Sangita-Phadke style is what I'd like to eventually achieve in smoothness and blending---lofty goal---haven't come close to figuring out how she does it.


12-11-2011, 10:23 AM
working on black is a different way of understanding your sticks ,
but the artist you aspire to may have started with white :eek:
> bottom line - Practice !
>> high key on black needs a mid-value underneath , generally .

Ed :}

12-11-2011, 12:14 PM
shrswmn, im a fan of Sangita Phadke as well- she had a cover + article in the pastel journal earlier this year. She said a part of her approach was using a limited palette, not more than 15 sticks in a painting, with the values carefully chosen. and usually starts on a midtone paper (colorfix or wallis belgium mist)

as for my piece...finished! got the reflections in and played with their value...

12-11-2011, 01:21 PM
thank you Ed and Bro,
Ed --I used a cream color paper, the black is toning. you're right---practice is key. Bro --thanks for the tips. Your waterscape is lovely--- the gradient values in the reflections look great!

12-11-2011, 02:18 PM
Barbara, Thanks for joining us! Very nice painting of the bowl of cherries!

SoulBro - Wonderful!


12-11-2011, 05:05 PM
shrswmn, im a fan of Sangita Phadke as well- she had a cover + article in the pastel journal earlier this year. She said a part of her approach was using a limited palette, not more than 15 sticks in a painting, with the values carefully chosen. and usually starts on a midtone paper (colorfix or wallis belgium mist)

as for my piece...finished! got the reflections in and played with their value...

The finish is magnificent, SoulBro! I like the way you played with the white at the end. You've got wonderful depth in the scene and the colors just dance, it's glorious! The little boat gives scale to those enormous trees, you remind me how big they get in a deep old forest. Wonderful painting.

12-11-2011, 05:07 PM
WIP strathmore pastel block, 26x33cm.
I'm enjoying my new fling with pastels, but find them extremely challenging. I'd be very happy to receive C&C---need all the help I can get. http://www.waxlander.com/artist/56/Sangita-Phadke style is what I'd like to eventually achieve in smoothness and blending---lofty goal---haven't come close to figuring out how she does it.


Barbara, this is beautiful. I love the way you toned the black and gradated it so that there are little dancing areas of light here and there. The cherries look yummy and the bowl is gorgeous. Most of all the whole setup dances with light, it's gorgeous.

12-12-2011, 11:02 AM
Barbara, great cherries! You have really got the luminous, almost transparant quality of the bowl there.

SoulBro, Love the finish of this. I like your style!

I went with Ed's crop suggestion for the Roses (easier than doing the elipse when there wasn't much time :D ). So this is now square, about 8.5x8.5" and I have a 3" strip of colorfix to wash off and play with a bit. I need to do this before rushing in again as I am not familiar enough with it.

I darkened the shadows in the top Rose and finished the other. So, here it is


Must just show you the first photo I took with the flash on auto. Look at the depth there! Unfortunately my painting does not look like this photo, but it's given me the idea of pushing the shadows further. hope I'll have time.........


12-12-2011, 12:53 PM
Ruthie, that is so beautiful! LOL that same thing happened to me with Mystery Cat. When I took the photo last time the shadows came up darker and it looked tons better than the painting, where the cat looks a little like a cutout. So I know I need to push the darks.

12-12-2011, 01:03 PM
Ruth, Very lovely Roses! Ed's suggested crop was excellent!

I think it is true of almost all the photos I take of my artwork that the values get compressed so that the darks are darker. This is the nature of photographs. And, yes, it almost always looks better as I tend not to go dark enough myself. On the other hand, sometimes making the darks darker makes it look more like a photo than a painting from life. In this case, the darkening of the shadows may create more drama, but I think it also takes away from the delicacy and lightnesss. So, it might be fine just as is!


12-12-2011, 02:34 PM
Barbara - thx .
i must have misread Strathmore ' block ' as ' black ' .
> from my observation , many ( not all ) high-key ceramics
have a hint of another deeper colour
which i like , but can be so elusive :rolleyes:

Ruthie ( and Don ) , aw shucks - thx . :)
Great finish !
> a photo trick i use is to put a piece of facial tissue
in front of the flash ,
take the pix ,
fold the tissue ,
snap again ,
and so on ,
( it's what the pro photogs call a scrim )
then review with the computer .
>> you might find that useful .
>>> the second photo shows on my screen
as a good example of ' north light ' ... :)

please excuse my commenting and not presenting .
> i'm enjoying all the paintings !

Ed :}

12-12-2011, 03:46 PM
WIP latest incarnation. Found that fixative between layers helps.http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/12-Dec-2011/973438-IMGP5914.JPG
Some things I like better here, and some on the first version

12-13-2011, 09:42 AM
Ruth and SoulBro - really enjoyable watching your paintings develop - and the final product - wow! Nicely done! SoulBro, you are so good at capturing the light in this landscape and retaining a unity about it too. Ruth, the roses on a black bg are so dramatic and shimmering. How do you achieve such complete coverage of the black paper?

Barbara, I'm in love with your painting of the cherries! I think you've done a lovely job of blending and your colors are very smooth. Beautiful!

12-13-2011, 08:51 PM
Barbara, I like how it's coming on! Beautiful. Love the sweeping curves of the reflections on the bowl and the way the cherries are sharper now.

12-14-2011, 01:09 PM

This is my pot of lemons. The size is 9,6 x 6,5 inches. It is done on Fisher paper (thank you Ruthie).
There is a wet underpainting in dark lilac.
C & C welcome.

12-14-2011, 01:22 PM
Karin, your version of the bucket o' lemons is delightful! I love the painterly strokes and lively hue changes. This one is gorgeous.

12-14-2011, 01:58 PM
Karin--really like the colors in your light and shadow, and the orange background makes the container and lemons pop. Just one thing--where is your light coming from? The light inside the bucket seems to come from the front, but then all the shadows are in front, too. All in all, it's an enjoyable painting.

12-14-2011, 04:08 PM
Thanks Robert and Don! NC Girl, thanks. I have to admit to a touch of blending here. That and the fact that I was using Unison and Scminke pastels enabled me to get that coverage. Now, If I'd started with harder pastels, say Rembrandts, I feel I would have been able to build up layers better and wouldn't have needed to blend. That's what I'll do next time on the colourfix.

Barbara, this is coming on well. Just watch the shape of the top of the bowl. It dips rather on the right and that combined with the shading you have now gives me the imprseeion the bowl is melting! Quite a neat effect really.

Karin, Ooh, glad you posted your Lemons. I knew you'd use the Fisher well! The lemons are really rounded and I love the different colours you've introduced to this. How did you like doing the underpainting?

12-14-2011, 04:20 PM
All three of your work-in-progress paintings are inspiring. I would have left it at any stage as a finished painting. The first is loose and abstract, impressionistic--awesome. The last fills in more of the story as an advanced and detailed painting. All three are rich, vivid, captivating. I'm glad you posted your work.

Love your painting, too. I'll research the artist you ref'd. The bowl is delightfully realistic... so... glass-like.

The orange secondary/tertiary background color plays well against the primary blue bucket of a more intense hue. Great contrast! You also achieved a nice balance between cool blues and violets against warmer oranges and yellows.

As for light source, the painting presents dual sources. The primary is obviously from the right; yet, the shiny metal bucket displays a sheen from a secondary light source. It works...and the table may not reflect that secondary light source as well as a shiny bucket does. You're also not shy about color...which really appeals to my taste.

I remember, vividly, the roses you painted in our Challenge from over a year ago. Your flowers continue to enchant.

12-14-2011, 05:24 PM
I am trying to post a picture, but having a problem with rotation. So will resubmit when I can do it the right way.

:cat:Maria (new member from Allen, Texas)

12-14-2011, 05:34 PM
soulbro: the trees and lake reflections are really wonderful. Excellent work.

Ruthie gorgeous finish on the roses. I really like the crop too!

Shrwmn: good job on the bowl of cherries. Very believable.

Goeppeeka: nice work on the lemons. I like the blue/orange contrast too.

Mkernekins: the cat turned out really well. Nice one. Welcome to the forum!

12-14-2011, 08:47 PM

Loved this ref photo. Did you take in your neck of the woods? Such skies...



12-14-2011, 09:22 PM
Barbara, Your cherries are still looking good in your latest incarnation!

Karin, Very nice job on the lemons! Nice feelings of texture throughout!


12-14-2011, 09:25 PM
David, Really nice painting of the sunset skies! I like how you have captured the essence of the sky and the branches - while keeping things loose and full of energy!

The photo was taken from my front door - so I guess you can't get much closer to my neck of the woods than that! The photo is composed looking up into the sky so that I didn't get the townhouses and other signs of civilization into the pic!


12-15-2011, 04:46 AM
Dave---love your painting--the looseness and texture of the branches and the colors---make me want to be there. Thank you for clarifying Karin's light source---I see it now and it makes sense. Yummy lemons, Karin. Ruth--lovely roses---I went to your website---wow---amazing work---wish I could learn from you---my bowel was in a very hot place....----no, I'll fix it, thanks. Robert---I already learn from you on your blog and notes---thanks for the encouragement, and everyone else, too.

12-15-2011, 11:51 AM
Thank you everybody for your comments on my lemons. I really appreciate it very much.

Soulbrother, I love your painting. The colours are gorgeous and well-tempered.

Ruthie, you have done the rose so well. It is beautiful. The black background is great.

Dave, your painting is beautiful. I like the colours and especially how sensitively you rendered the stems and leaves. And thank you for commenting so attentively about my painting.

12-15-2011, 02:32 PM

David - very interesting tension between the marks/colour
of the sky and the silhouette .

Barbara , Karin ,
your works are without a doubt further than literal reproductions .

it's refreshing to see ,
and for me , a gentle nudge to think further about
colour and Painting . :)

Ed :}

12-15-2011, 04:02 PM
David, Don is right, this is full of energy. It is very loose yet looks so real from a distance. I could learn a lot from you.

Thanks all for your comments on my Roses. As an experiment I decided to increase the value range of the Roses to try and get more depth. What it has shown me is that I still have a long way to go in my quest to understand colour. I don't think it's quite as garish in real life but, now I look at it, I think I need to tone down some of the colours! Yellow is so light. Hard to make it darker and have it still appear yellow. I covered the paper roughly with black pastel because with all the brushing off etc it had lost it's crisp black.

So here is my failed experiment....for those of you who think I am an experienced artist, to prove that I still have a loooooooooong way to go :eek:
Hey, it looks good in greyscale though :lol:


12-15-2011, 05:06 PM

Ruthie , on the upper blossom ,
the dance with ochre , turquoise , and resultant green is delicious !
> i'm no expert about roses , and a yellow tinge
may be cultivated ,
and i'd guess there are stages of maturity and decay ,
but i'm catching colours between the blossoms
which are so sensible !
> just that petal above the vase band ...

deep dark looks fine on my screen :)

Ed :}

12-15-2011, 05:34 PM

Captivating. The value stretch worked to increase dimension. The roses reach from the page.

I share your quest to better understand color...
Yellow is a very difficult color for painters to master because the wavelength range visible to the human eye is so narrow compared to other colors...like green, red, or blues. There are billons of greens...but oh, so few yellows!

You harnessed this difficult, narrow range of perceivable color to present believable roses. (I'm envious!)

So I'll stop being a geek and just say: I stopped to smell the roses. :)



12-15-2011, 07:43 PM
Lovely stuff everyone.
Thought I would give the lemons a go(struggled with background, foreground, shadows etc .lets just say I struggled). -rembrandt soft pastels on colorfix 11 x 6.http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/15-Dec-2011/197555-lemons-2-001.jpg
C & C very welcome as I am on a steep learning curve with regards colour and pastels.

Happy holidays.


12-16-2011, 01:07 AM
Brian, nice start---don't give up---keep working it.

Dave, I'm saving your graph---fascinating

Ruth, I wish I could fail as beautifully as you do! Personally, I find the colors in the upper rose perfect, and the lower one, well, I'd only tone down the yellow/green slightly. I'd hang this on my wall even as is in a second.

12-16-2011, 04:05 AM
Ed, thanks! Actually I now quite like the open Rose, but the other has lost it's shape as well as gaining that acid looking green colour.
Dave, Thanks. We will both keep learning! Thanks for the diagram too, that really shows how small a range yellow has and how green is such an important colour! I will add violet to the shaded green areas of the bottom Rose. I think that'll help. Violet is a wonderful colour for harnessing others!
Barbara, thank you!
Brian, Nice Lemons! You have achieved good depth with them and the shadows are very believable.

12-16-2011, 04:28 AM
Dave, WOW! Dawn of the foliage! That is so lively and so cheery! The silhouetted foliage is gorgeous, making those lacy patterns, the sky's delightful, your painterly technique is beautiful. Something about the color harmony makes me smile, the blue foliage is just right with it. Black would have been too stark. This is unified, that's a warm greenish dark blue rather than a purplish dark blue, it harmonizes with the turquoise in the sky. Gorgeous work.

Ruthie, what do you mean failed? It looks even better than it did! Don't be afraid of your values, that pushed color and gave them even more depth! They just popped and became three dimensional - fragile, beautiful, feels like if I touched them a petal might fall off. The bulk of the young rose is solid, the fully blown rose is having its last grand moment and a breath might scatter some moist petals. They look moist. That is a success. If I had the money I'd prove it to you with my wallet.

Do not brush it off. I'll trade you a Golden Gate bridge for it or something else cool. I'm serious. That is not a failure. It also doesn't look garish at all, even if it's brighter in person it has a long way to go to be garish. Think of Charlie's paintings before you think Garish - the colors harmonize and you could've gone as saturated as she does without killing it.

The acid looking green color on the young rose is both that it's younger and may have a greenish tinge at the base or reflected greens from the leaves. That's a point of reflected color to me, don't hurt it. Step away from the painting, carefully, set down your pastels, or move it gently to the side and set up a new piece of blank sanded paper. Do not brush anything off, just use new paper. Please.

Brian, your lemons still life is fresh and lively! For all that you struggled it sure doesn't show or look overworked. The background texture and table texture is awesome. The lemons are bright and rounded, everything's dimensional, the painterly texture on them is gorgeous too. Great ellipse on the bucket opening and good rounded hollow sense on it.

Well done, all three of you. Ruthie, don't kill that rose.

12-16-2011, 06:26 AM
Barbara-thanks for the encouragement!
Ruth-your flowers are awesome,thanks for lookin.
Robert-thanks for givin me a boost,-- I do plenty of lurking and enjoy reading you posts and viewing your art especially Ari(although I am a doggy-man myself)but I feel the same bond between you and your cat friend-as I have with my dog friend Tara.


12-16-2011, 05:19 PM
Brian, thanks. Hee hee, wait till after Christmas! I've got a dog commission under way that's a surprise Christmas present for my patron's mom - she gets to see it first, but after it's unwrapped I can post it. I'm scanning stages on it too. The dog is laughing, so her mouth was tough but I got it perfect last night.

I know that feeling. When a dog-loving friend has that close a bond with their animal, I feel the same way. The love is real on both sides. They're people with fur, family members, loving, trustworthy ones that often behave better than human beings. We forgive their foibles, find their quirks endearing, get to know them as well as if they were relatives.

If you want cheap dog treats, get a small box of dry cat food. It's too rich for them to have as a meal but both of my daughter's dogs love it. Kitten uses individual cat food kibbles as training treats.

12-16-2011, 07:06 PM
Cant wait to see your doggy portrait,Robert!!
Dogs and cats and the majority of all animals give so much and ask for very little in return(cant say that about the majority of humans)
Although yourself and a lot on here give freely -advice and guidance-and I am grateful.
Cat food for my dog.something to ponder.lol.


12-16-2011, 07:50 PM
Ruth, You are very picky and quite the perfectionist - or so it seems! Your painting is beautiful - certainly not a failed experiment.

Brian, Nice job on the lemons! Your struggles aren't noticeable!


12-17-2011, 07:00 AM
Lots of good work on show here, not had a lot of time these past couple of months, and now absolutely full of cold. Found some time to do a bit for this month. Size 10 x 7 on colourfix.

Happy Christmas one and all.

12-17-2011, 09:56 AM
Nice painting! The background / foreground both look great. You left out detail, which could distract from the focal point(s). The cool colors there are a nice backdrop for warmer yellows / oranges in the lemons. Glad you posted !

Dawn of the foliage! :lol: That made me howl. It kinda does look like a couple movies I've seen.

Fantastic underpainting (or is it just the paper coming through?). The darks values really set off the lemons. The bucket is super and works well with the fruit. Love it.

12-17-2011, 11:12 AM
Thank you David, it is the paper showing through. Just taken a peep at your site and love what is in there.

12-17-2011, 05:54 PM
Jim, Wonderful painting of the lemons! The lemons really pop against the neutralized/gray blue background! Great use of contrast!


12-17-2011, 08:19 PM
Jim, your lemon still life is spectacular! I love paintings on black Colourfix, they have such richness. It's fantastic. The little flecks of dark set off your bright light colors and give them sparkle. Your lemons have dimension and beautiful color harmonies, your hue and value shifts are bold and make them very solid. Your perspective on the bucket is fantastic. It looks deep. I can reach right into it. The little color variations in the background are subtle enough to be supporting characters, they blur together but give it a lively painterly look. I love it.

12-18-2011, 05:05 AM
Don thank you for looking and commenting.

Rob, thank you also for such enthusiastic applause, you made me blush

12-20-2011, 12:11 AM
Ruthie: I love your roses and you really made them stand out and showed the softness of the turning petals. Great job.
Jim:Nice job on the lemons. They just trip across the page.

Well I finally got one in before the end of the year.I am not good with animal painting but this one appealed to me so I had a go. His face is a bit short I think but at least I had a go! Thanks for all the refs Don and Happy Christmas.


12-20-2011, 02:30 AM
Jen---wonderful---you seemed to catch that intense cat look like she's ready to pounce on a bird....
love the colors, too, the greens reflected in the eyes

12-20-2011, 11:45 AM
Thanks everyone for your comments about my Roses. It's still on the easel ands I haven't been in the studio for 3 days. I will look at it with fresh eyes tomorrow.
ArtyJim, sorry about the cold. Maybe you should take some hot lemon!! I love your lemons. I think black paper just peeking through gives the painting life....a bit of zest!
Jen, Great cat portrait! I love your treatment of the fur. His face looks pretty good to me. Glad you had time to join us!

12-21-2011, 08:30 AM
Jen, Very nice job on the cat! And Happy Holiday wishes to you, too!


12-21-2011, 10:24 AM
I've just had what will probably be my last session in the studio this year, unless I can wangle a few hours one morning.

So I chose the Lemons, again on black colourfix. I cannot get used to how quick the tooth fills up when using the softies. I think in future I will tone pastelmat or fisher 400 black first.

I can't get an entirely accurate photo of this. This is the closest I can get.
It's about 12x5"ish, haven't measured it.

12-21-2011, 01:01 PM
Turpintine - he's magnificent! You didn't get his face too short. Cats' faces are short! I know that was hard for me years ago when I started trying to draw cats, my first study of cat facial anatomy was full of shocks. They have short faces. You got the muzzle length and profile right for an average "applehead" cat face. "Pansyface" muzzles are even shorter, very flat. Siamese and Oriental Shorthairs have a very long muzzle more like the proportions on a big cat like a leopard or jaguar. For a tabby the Applehead profile is the most likely.

Bright shining eyes and gorgeous ears. You captured the expression and mood of the cat beautifully too, that quivering intense interest, alert and lively. Well done!

Ruthie, I love your paintings. Your lemons are magnificent. The light pouring through is so bright and searing, the whole painting is a paean to light. I love the way it plays on the bucket as well, the rich reflected colors in the shadows, the roundness and temperature of everything. I feel as if I could reach in and grab one of the lemons and the patch of light would be warm on my hand. Wonderful!

12-21-2011, 01:27 PM
Wonderful !
i'd spot this across a room of any size :D

on my screen , the highlights of the basket look somewhat pink and flat ...
> don't know how a stump might work on pastelmat ...

blue violets aren't obvious at first -
the sense of them behind the lemons/basket
pulls me into the picture :thumbsup:

Ed :}

12-21-2011, 01:46 PM
Thanks shrswmn, Ruthie, Don and Robert. Robert all my cats were Siamese so that is probably why her face looked short to me. Thanks for the explanation.

Ruthie your lemons are gorgeous. I agree with all Robert so eloquently says. The light hits so right. I will have to try some black colourfix.

12-21-2011, 02:29 PM
Well done Jen. You reminded me that I started this last week. I'll have to finish it. Ruthie, I agree with Robert! Your lemons are gorgeous for all the reasons he gave and some. Thank you both for sharing. Cali

12-21-2011, 02:36 PM
Jen - sorry .
i went to last page first ...
> detail is very sharp !
tempting to push some values , isn't it ? :)

Ed :}

12-21-2011, 09:12 PM
Ruth, Wonderful as always! Great sense of light while still getting a nice sense of reflected light in the lemon's shadows!


12-22-2011, 11:19 AM
Ruth, spectacular. The lighting. Wow After all, the one thing a human eye responds to more than anything is light. You took it to a higher level.

12-22-2011, 12:05 PM
Hi all,
I managed one more. It is 5 x 7 on Pastelmat. Hope you like it. C&C welcome. Thanks, Cali

12-22-2011, 12:35 PM
Thanks for your comments all. Robert, waxing lyrical as usual. It's so obvious you're an author, you string words together so well.
Ed, yes the lit rim of the pail is rather thick and therefore looks flat. No reason why a stomp shouldn't work, if I have one small/sharp enough. I look forward to your keen observations!
Cali, wonderful Cat! It looks lovely and soft and the BG perfectly enhances the eye!

12-22-2011, 03:10 PM
Beautiful cat, Cali! I like her eyes. You have given her a sly expression, she's so cool. The way you did the background is gorgeous, the reflection on her eye is wonderful. Love that little pink nose too. Great proportions. She has a soft feeling too, I want to reach through and pet her silky fur.

12-22-2011, 11:18 PM
Hello everyone! Its been awhile since I last posted because teaching keeps me busy but I'm now on break and have some moments to spare. I've been inspired by all of the wonderful lemons and decided to give it a go. I've been experimenting with color since I'm mostly self taught and a newbie so C&C are welcome. It's a 5x7 on Colourfix with Rembrants and Senneliers. Thanks everyone and have a great holiday!


12-22-2011, 11:26 PM
I didn't have even a few minutes to work on a challenge this month, but I enjoyed viewing all the wonderful work everyone did.

Happy Holidays and I hope to jump in the challenge for Jan 2012.

Pam Dallaire

12-22-2011, 11:46 PM
Thanks Calli and Ed. Ed I am so delighted to have it look like a cat I don't think I will work on it any more. No time also!

12-22-2011, 11:51 PM
Cali I love your cat. I think it is because as Robert said it is so soft. It is just begging to be stroked. Really great job on the fur, the bright eyes.

757 jewelry great job on the lemons I like the red, blue, yellow colours.

12-23-2011, 08:19 AM

Great painting! I like the direct use of primary colors in a painting. Your blue and red hues are eye-catching. I see solid value changes / shading in the red background table, too. You also achieved a rhythm in the pastel strokes used to paint the lemons and bucket alike. This movement in texture is hard to achieve uniformly.
Well done!

12-23-2011, 11:12 AM
Robert, Ruthie, and Jen, than you so much for your comments. I thought I was done with animals for a while, but this kitty appeared and had to try it. I didn't set goals this month But at least I can say tick to two spotlight photos. Here's wishing you a Blessed Holiday Season. CIO, Cali

12-23-2011, 04:18 PM
Cali, Wonderful job on the cat! Love the background color - and the eye!

Brittany, Very vivid and bold painting! Well done!


12-23-2011, 05:03 PM
Hello everyone! Its been awhile since I last posted because teaching keeps me busy but I'm now on break and have some moments to spare. I've been inspired by all of the wonderful lemons and decided to give it a go. I've been experimenting with color since I'm mostly self taught and a newbie so C&C are welcome. It's a 5x7 on Colourfix with Rembrants and Senneliers. Thanks everyone and have a great holiday!


Wow! I love the strong bold primaries and the beautiful depth and variations you've achieved. Painterly look in the background and on everything, especially the lemons. It's got colors that seem as if it'd be stark and oversimplified and it's not, instead it's rich with harmony. Gorgeous painting. Well done!

I had to bump it forward so everyone can get a good look at this.

12-27-2011, 05:25 AM
ok, made some fixes, time to go on to the next---looking forward to January. happy holidays to all.http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/27-Dec-2011/973438-IMGP5991.JPG :wave:

12-27-2011, 09:21 AM
Thanks for the kind words! Hopefully I'll be able to paint something for next month too :)

12-28-2011, 08:45 AM
WoW!! love all the paintings, just reading this thread what a lovely works!!!

12-28-2011, 03:12 PM
Hi friends,

I jumped out of my comfort zone with this couple-hour sketch. The largest paper size I've ever used was 8 x 11. Well, this is 22 x 30 -- befitting the grand scale of the ref photo Don shared.

I spent a lot of pastel on this…but the exercise was fun and instructive. It was tough to take a larger photo--with tons of little distracting details and little pastel sticks--and distill it into a cohesive message in terms of value, hue, intensity, form, etc.

The Challenge paintings this month were truly inspirational. I learn something new from each of you.



12-28-2011, 04:11 PM

hi everyone,
this is my first post in this area, I discovered pastels and now I hope to do other work.

12-28-2011, 07:41 PM
Barbara - Not sure what you fixed, but it's still looking good!

Dave (G33) - Very nicely done! I think you have done an excellent job of distilling the image into a cohesive painting! I think you are finding that detail isn't really that necessary and the large masses tell most of the story!

branca - Welcome to the Spotlight and the Pastel Forum! This is a very nice painting! You seem very comfortable with pastels! We look forward to seeing more of your work!


12-28-2011, 08:33 PM
Barbara, good fix on the bowl shape. Still gorgeous and a little more refined.

Dave, gorgeous landscape! You successfully lost those irrelevant details and showed it bold and painterly.

Branca, beautiful bowl of cherries. Welcome to the forum and the challenge! It's gorgeous. Looking forward to seeing more!

12-29-2011, 03:54 AM

I second comments from Don and Robert: that's a great painting and you look really comfortable with pastels. Happy you posted!

12-30-2011, 07:29 AM
Dave--- love the energy in your landscape

12-30-2011, 01:49 PM
thankyou all, i'm waiting for the next month session.