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Old 12-31-2017, 08:17 PM
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DAK723 DAK723 is offline
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The Spotlight - January 2018 - Snow

Welcome artists!

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, remember, 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 were 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…Snow!

It’s winter here in the northern hemisphere! Which – for many of us – means snow! I happen to live near the Great Lakes in the USA – which means not just snow from regular snow storms, but we also have Lake Effect Snow! Not that this is important to the Spotlight, but I just wanted to mention it!

One of the most important aspects of painting winter scenes with snow, is observing where the sun is and how it effects the lighting of the scene. I once heard a critique of a winter painting where the painting (and painter) was criticized for not observing Carlson’s "rules" of values in a landscape. The person making the comment was no doubt trying to be helpful – but they also probably lived closer to the equator where snow might never fall!


While rules such as Carlson’s are certainly helpful, observation is always the most important “rule” to follow! For those unfamiliar with Carlson’s "rules" of values in a landscape, here’s a sketch:



In most circumstances, the light on a scene is coming from above. Therefore, a relatively flat ground plane is receiving the most direct light and thus the lightest value (aside from the sky). Planes that are at an angle (my mountain in the sketch) are receiving light at a greater angle, thus darker than the ground plane. Objects that are mostly vertical (such as trees) are receiving the least direct light, and thus are the darkest value. Keep in mind these are all generalizations.

What happens in the winter as you get farther from the equator, is that the sun is very low in the sky. So, the sunlight is not coming from above – but rather more from the side. So, a typical winter scene might look like this:



With the sun lower in the sky, the flatter ground planes are not the lightest value as they are getting light at a sharper angle. The areas that are more angled or even vertical might be getting the most direct light and will be lighter in value, as in the photo above, where the ground plane is a darker value than the roof of the building and the snow bank in front of the building are lighter in value. So if you have some nice flat area that are snow covered, they probably won’t be the lightest value and since they are often getting color from the sky, they won’t be white either!

Of course, if you are looking into the sun things are different. Looking towards or away from the sun is another important factor when observing the color and value of a scene, as we can see by these two photos:



Looking into the sun (left), the snow is very light and bright, and areas that are not getting direct light, such as the footprints, are dark. Looking away from the sun (right) we see a similar situation as we saw in the first photo that we looked at – the ground plane is a bit darker than the angled or vertical planes which are the lightest as they are receiving more direct light.

When not looking into the sun, depicting those lighter, more direct sunlit areas is important if you are doing a painting with any kinds of foot, or paw prints! Notice the low angled sunlight hits the planes that are inside the footprint!



We often mention how the color of the light influences the color of objects that we paint. Many artists talk or write about the colors that are in shadows or in areas lit by the sun. We usually see grass as green whether in the sun or shade. It may be more yellow-green in the sun and more blue-green in the shade, but in many cases, this influence of the light is hard to see. Luckily, this influence of the light is easiest to see when dealing with white objects or surfaces! So when we paint snow, we can use a lot more color than we might initially realize! The color of the sky definitely influences the shadow colors, and often even the color of the snow in the light. Reflected light from other objects, such as buildings, might also be easier to see on white snow.

OK, time for the references!

First a photo by one of our Spotlight and Pastel forum members, ColorEnthusiast!




Next, a photo by another member who has posted in the pastel forum in the past, Yannse:



The remainder of the photos are by me:









As always, feel free to modify the references as much as you want! Share any observations, thoughts and questions. And most of all...

Have fun...

And Happy New Year to all!

Don
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Old 01-01-2018, 07:59 AM
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Re: The Spotlight - January 2018 - Snow

Great references and interesting lesson. Even in Carlson's Guide to Landscape Painting he said that his rule had exceptions, especially in snow, and to really look at what's in front of you. Often the snow is lighter than the sky. Your point that the snow on the slanted roof facing the sun was lighter than the snow on the flat ground made perfect sense, the angle of sunlight is not the same.

We don't have any snow yet this year so I don't know if I'd be able to add plein air to this, but the photos are awesome. Love your deer photo!
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Old 01-01-2018, 02:08 PM
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Re: The Spotlight - January 2018 - Snow

Love the references. Thanks Don. I plan to paint tomorrow.

Happy New Year to everyone. Health and happiness to all.
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Old 01-02-2018, 04:01 PM
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Re: The Spotlight - January 2018 - Snow


Doe in the Snow
6" x 8" photo reference by DAK743
Carb Othello pastel pencils on Strathmore toned gray mixed media paper.

Wow. I was first out of the gate this time, that surprised me. Loved the reference and had to do her!
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Old 01-03-2018, 03:33 PM
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Re: The Spotlight - January 2018 - Snow

This is the lovely reference from the top of the page. Thank you, ColorEnthusiast. 11 x 14 on white Pastel Premier with various pastels. Not nearly as dark as the original but from across the room I like it. I think it's been about six months since I painted. Wow! Scary! All comments welcome.

Robert, your deer is remarkable!!!!
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Old 01-03-2018, 04:31 PM
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Re: The Spotlight - January 2018 - Snow

Yikes! I just saw it. BIG mistake. I posted the photo reference instead of my art. Head to desk moment. Bad eyesight. Those little bitty thumbnails...


Doe in the Snow
6" x 8" photo by DAK723
Pastel pencil on Strathmore Toned Gray heavy paper.

Love your landscape, still-trying. It's beautiful. The color and depth is wonderful.

I don't think I've ever done this before. Chalk it up to fatigue and bad eyesight.
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Old 01-03-2018, 07:18 PM
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Re: The Spotlight - January 2018 - Snow

Jay, your sky is beautifully painted.
Robert, that makes me feel better. I'm often too lazy to put on my glasses. This is a wonderful winter painting.
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Old 01-03-2018, 08:55 PM
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Re: The Spotlight - January 2018 - Snow

Robert, for a second there I thought you were the greatest photo-realist painter that ever lived! Really glad to see your real painting - it's really wonderful! You've so captured the pose and the sunlight!

Jay, Beautiful! That sky especially - is absolutely gorgeous!

Don
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Old 01-03-2018, 09:47 PM
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Re: The Spotlight - January 2018 - Snow

That was tricky, Don. Using the cool gray paper for the mid value of the snow, it sort of demanded that I simplify some of the trees and rumples... the painting dictated that. I may play with another one to play with the colors of snow itself, this one wasn't it. This was more about "less is more" on the ground, but conveyed the texture.
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Old 01-04-2018, 08:09 AM
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Re: The Spotlight - January 2018 - Snow

That's beautiful, Jay! The sky and the snow look wonderful bathed in warm colors and you didn't make the tress quite as dark as the photo shows so it looks very natural. It's nice to see your work again!

Robert, your gray paper was a very good choice for this! I need to remember that sometimes the best choice for snow is to let the paper do the work. The deer is so nicely done - love those warm orange highlights.
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Old 01-04-2018, 08:10 AM
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Re: The Spotlight - January 2018 - Snow

Ahh Robert, now your deer is better than the reference. I think she eats my garden. You did a great job.

Thanks Karen, Robert and Don. I love skies.
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Old 01-04-2018, 10:03 AM
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Re: The Spotlight - January 2018 - Snow

Thank you Donna. I love seeing your work. Will you try one of these?
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Old 01-04-2018, 12:12 PM
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Re: The Spotlight - January 2018 - Snow

Jay, your painting not being as dark as the photo is wonderful. It looks more true to life. The photo's great but suffers from photo problems where the darks drop out and lose detail, become too dark and distort hue. You obviously worked from memory as well because you got the level of brightness from days that look like that so wonderfully. Your painting just draws me right in, it's so rich with color and light. Glorious painting.

Purr and thanks for all the comments on my doe! She was fun. I love using the paper color as part of my palette in pastels, have always liked tinted or toned papers for that.
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Old 01-04-2018, 04:52 PM
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Re: The Spotlight - January 2018 - Snow

beautiful job, Jay....You really captured it...I feel like I could follow those prints in the snow .(.but it's too cold!)
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Old 01-05-2018, 12:58 PM
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Re: The Spotlight - January 2018 - Snow

Thanks so much Robert and Judibelle. That made me feel great on a freezing blowy snowy day. (But not as much snow as I’m sure Don has!!!)
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