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Old 11-02-2008, 10:45 AM
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Re: Exploring Soft Pastels Class: Still-Life the Colourful Way!

Hi, guys. Great work! I'll post stages 3 and 4 (the last in the demo), and then I'll comment!

Btw, I changed my mind, that's why I'm rushing so with the demo-posting. Originally, I'd intended that we'd play with the text and questions, but then I thought: "I'd have wanted to start to paint at least *something*", so in the last minute I decided to include the Paint-along now in the beginning of the class. So I'm working to get it posted asap! Plus, I'd no idea (that means bad planning... ) that it would take so long to just type down what I did.

Charlie
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Old 11-02-2008, 11:18 AM
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Re: Exploring Soft Pastels Class: Still-Life the Colourful Way!

Phhhhew this is technical! Woahhhh.
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Old 11-02-2008, 11:45 AM
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Re: Exploring Soft Pastels Class: Still-Life the Colourful Way!

Red block demo 3

Stage 3 – in which we model forms in space

So far, we’ve only worked on flat masses of colour. Now that the light and basic shapes are established, and the colours of the masses are generally OK, and values are OK – now we start to build forms. This demo is chosen for simplicity of form, as there are only flat planes. So we will not have to model much, but still, flat planes are closer or more far away, and we will indicate that.

These tricks are good to know, as they are also handy for your usual style and manner of painting. The basic ideas can be used with earths and grays too. Here is an example of my using the method (in a pointillistic style) with almost exclusively earth-tones and grays. Cooler earths/grays recede, warmer earths (and greys) come forward There are a few specks of purer prismatic colours (those we work with in this demo) in the foreground:



General info:

We will work with the fact that cool colours recede, and warm colours come forward. Bright, pure, colours also tend to come forward.

White is an interesting ‘colour’. It does three things:
- lightens
- dulls
- cools

Very handy to know. Often we may want to lighten a colour, and if it is in the distance, white would work well. (As white cools, it also pushes things back in space, dull – less bright—colours recede, and light colours tend to recede quite often.) But say we want to lighten grass in the foreground. If we lighten it with white, it will become ‘milky’ and ‘misty’ and actually recede visually so it would seem to be on another plane than the less whitened greens above it in the picture plane, and those would come forward. Knowing about how warms come forward, and how cools recede, we need to find a lighter warmer green, or some other colour to lighten the green with. (The green in the very foreground of that grass, the nearest greens.) Following the colour wheel along its rim, we find that yellow is the closest warm to green. So a bit of yellow mixed with green would lighten it, and warm it. In pastels, we can choose a yellower green, or scumble yellow over the green, or have yellow under the green. Now it will stay firmly in the foreground, *and* be lightened.

The Red Block Paint-along Demo, stage 3

I choose again to start with the background. I want the upper part of the blue cloth to recede. I also see that there are very delicate shifts of colour from left to right, as I look at the upper edge of the photo, in this case. (It will be more clear when you look at a set-up in real life, in real light.)

I also want the lower part of the blue cloth to come forward, and there are delicate colour shifts there too.

Basically, what I want to do visually is to ‘tilt’ the light pink/blue plane back in space.

There is a handy little trick on how to do that: Mentally divide the picture in quadrants, by imagining two lines crossing it like a +. We will make each quadrant of the + a slightly different colour.

I apply the white stick, to the upper half of the painting, still on its side (but you can as well hatch and cross-hatch), as I want to background to be rather flat and have very little detail. (A stroke mark is a detail. The brain perceives it as such. So thin-but-close strokes will visually melt together, and I like to use those for backgrounds, or scumble.) The white stick goes all over the upper part of the blue cloth in light, and on the left side it goes about halfway down the block (outside the block, naturally). Then I apply my lightest blue stick on the upper right half, making sure there is no sharp edge.

Or, to use the +, I apply white over both the upper quadrants (to lighten and cool), and then the lightest violet-blue over the right quadrant (to blue and to cool). (This division is subtle, too sublte for the camera, thus not visible in the pic below.)

Now for the lower two quadrants of the +. Most of the lower right is shadow, so I don’t touch those. I take the remaining space (all of the blue cloth in the lower half of the picture) and roughly divide that in two as follows:

I choose the warmer (the more orange) of the two lightest reds I have, the tint/whitened of Red, and apply it from the left edge to halfway towards the shadows on the right. The remaining half of the lower cloth in light gets the cooler very light red, the whitened violet-Red. Looking at the painting, I see: Yes, the background is pushed back a bit, and the foreground comes forward. It is enough for now.



(As I type this, I discover that I’ve only used two values of the Permanent Rose, the violet-Red. Probably the pure ,5 and the light ,9, have to check. Amazing how one forgets from one day to the other.)

General info:
You’ll have discovered that I use the words ‘lightened’ and ‘whitened’ with separate meanings. And sometimes seem to mix them... Any colour , including white, can lighten what’s already on the paper (well, value has to be considered, of course). A whitened colour has white added to it. Pastel sticks are very commonly made with white added, for the tints. The Rembrandts I use are tinted with white. A shade, on the other hand, has black added into the pigments making up the stick.

Back to the demo:

Blue cloth in shadow. I see a violet cast, oddly enough not closest to the red block, but further out. So I apply a violet-Red of roughly the same value as what is already painted. Closer to the block I see a greenish, and lighter, patch, which I paint with the tint of green-Blue (the turquoise), your’s may be blue-Green, there are many turquoises/aquas. Closest to the block goes the violet-Blue, the more pigmented tint. A bit later I discover that the whole shadow needs darkening and warming, so the shade of Violet pushes it darker.



General info: I decide to start hatching and crosshatching, for two reasons. I want a shimmering effect from the broken colour, and, the tooth of the paper is getting rather filled, so hatching will work better.

Demo:
The green cloth in shadow needs a warming close to the block with the orange. Next third out from the block, the middle third of the length of the shadow, gets the violet-Blue deepest tint. And the outer third gets a blue-Green, deep tint. (Deep tint = less white, more pigment.)

(With the green shadow more in place, I see that the blue shadow needs a bit of darkening and warming with a shade of Violet, but that was covered in the text for the blue shadow already.)

Green cloth in light: (I’ve made a mistake photographing, the sticks are missing from the pic.) But you can see the effect in the picture below, where I’ve ‘laid down’ the green cloth in light by applying the tint of the warmer (more orange) yellow nearest the block. The tint of the yellow-Green is applied on the horizontal half nearest the shadow, and the cool tint of the blue-Green is applied to the upper half.



Block in shadow:
Left side got a shade of Violet at the bottom, and the yellow-Green at the top, nothing in the middle. (No sticks, but seen in the second pic below. I'm starting to loose focus of the photographing, but not of the actual act of painting.)

Right side has a deeper tint of Violet at the bottom. But on the right side we have a reflection (that should have been saved to stage 4) and I thouch it with Orange. Above that, there is the violet-Red, along the back edge, about a third wide, to cool it and recede it.

(ignore the blue sticks in this shot.)


Almost done with shaping now, only the top of the block remains.
I cool the back third, up to the short edge, with the light tint of violet-Red. The middle third (between the short edges) gets the orange, and the third closest to us gets Yellow.

I take a look. Is there anything I need to correct? Yes, the right side of the block in shadows should have more warms, and I'm not happy with the reflection (I should have saved for stage 4).

I decide that the Ochre is perfect for lightening but not brightening, the reflection, as it is a dull and grayed yellow. From about the middle of the block to the nearest edge I apply lightly, almost not touching, a yellow-Green tint, above the violet. (Sticks not in picture.)



(A few shots back I've begun colour-correcting the photo. As you can see from the shadows of the sticks, the daylight is gone, and I work in electric light. As the eye judges each colour in relation to the others, I can go on painting, it will not affect the outcome, much. I also reason that in my country, most paintings will be seen in electric light conditions. So something painted in the light it will be view in will look right.)

Phew! That was a job of work to type. Much easier to paint.

Please ask me about unclarities, the risk of my making an error increases as this stage is quite complex to describe.

Stage 4 will be a breeze, easy-peasy, and after that we’re done. Coming soon.

Charlie
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Old 11-02-2008, 11:54 AM
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Re: Exploring Soft Pastels Class: Still-Life the Colourful Way!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tracy Lewis
Phhhhew this is technical! Woahhhh.

Hi Tracy! Don't be scared off, this is basically all the technical stuff gathered in one place. The rest will be more doing, but you'll be able to refer back to this and not have to search for it (much), as it is not sprinkled out.

Maybe I also make it sound more complicated than it really is.

When I learned it, I got more than this in the first morning... felt like a ton of bricks, so I've really slimmed it down for you guys. But if you're like me, you'll get it bit by bit, as we go, and as we paint.


Charlie
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Last edited by Colorix : 11-02-2008 at 12:21 PM.
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Old 11-02-2008, 12:35 PM
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Re: Exploring Soft Pastels Class: Still-Life the Colourful Way!

Red block study, stage 4 – in which we deal with details and edges, completing the painting

We’re basically done, and now we can fuss with the small stuff.

I’m still not happy with the green clot in light, so I take the white to the upper half of it, lightening and cooling it. A bit more of the yellow-green tint to brighten the lower half, and I let that stick blend with the edge of the shadow. The tint of the warm yellow brightens and lightens the green, but I do not let the yellow cross the edge to shadow. I use the same yellow-Green to touch lightly the edge of the green cloth, within the shadow, giving form to that end of the cloth.

A touch of orange indicates reflected light on the cloth adjacent to the leftmost corner of the block. (stick not in pic.)

The darkest shade of violet-blue, and the shade of Violet, are applied on the blue in shadow, hinting at a shadow under the edge of the green cloth. It got a bit dark, so I lighten it with the tint of violet-Blue.

In order for the block to ‘sit down’ properly on the cloth, I need a bit of darks at the bottom edge. The same shades as in the previous paragraph are used for that.

The lowest edge of the cast shadow gets warmed a bit as it is close to us, and as there is a great deal of violet-Red there anyways. In the light part, I tone it down with the same sticks I used for cloth in light in stage 3.



I check the painting. Oooopsie, the block hovers over the green in shadow, can’t have that, so I darken with the two darkest yellow-Greens and a shade of green-Blue.

The darks at the bottom of the block are a bit too prominent, so I crosshatch with the shade of violet-Red.

Done!

Finished painting shot with flash in lamp-light, and PhotoShopped:



And shot in lamplight, PS-ed:



And a daytime shot, PS-ed, but I couldn't get the blues in shadow to behave:


We started here, remember:



All this painted with a “fistful of dollars”:





Thus ends the Paint-Along Demo.

Charlie
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Old 11-02-2008, 12:54 PM
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Re: Exploring Soft Pastels Class: Still-Life the Colourful Way!

Rob, looking good! "Just" copying will teach you way more than reading the words, so that is *great*. And your choices on how to manipulate the colours were really good, and at this stage, you can finger-blend freely and happily even if you don't want to do it later (like me).

Now, hopefully before you proceed: that blue-green shadow may be too light in value (but may also look that way digitally). Check the value, will you? That will save you a lot of trouble later, as it is a bit more difficult to darken than to lighten, if it really is too light.

Waiting for the rest!

Charlie




Quote:
Originally Posted by robertsloan2
Here's my second go just copying what you did on the first layer. The pink in the background is a bit colder than it looks. My orange was much more toward yellow so I put a little red blended in it. My aqua was much closer to green so I put a little blue blended in it.

In the scan, the colors are a bit off despite much playing with it in Gimp. It actually looks closer to the hues you have shown.

Attachment 414821

Mont Marte (handy) pastels on sketchbook.
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Old 11-02-2008, 01:11 PM
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Re: Exploring Soft Pastels Class: Still-Life the Colourful Way!

Hi WC, ah, the individualist! (That's fine, I'm often filling that role, too.) This is meant to be a "before", right? Yes, if that one suited you better, it was fine to paint it. Only reason I didn't choose it for the demo was the burned out lights on the cloth, as I liked it better too.

It's beautiful, and I really love your looser style. (Hope it rubs off on me.)

Regarding colour as representing light, I think the top plane of the block is way too dulled, even muddyish. Dull sides are great, but lightplanes usually glow. Otherwise, the values are fine!

What are you painting with? Pans?

Charlie




Quote:
Originally Posted by WC Lee
here is my little sketch hope it was okay to do this one ... and please excuse the messiness of it ..

---

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Old 11-02-2008, 01:27 PM
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Re: Exploring Soft Pastels Class: Still-Life the Colourful Way!

Well, I've done Stage 2...

Name:  RedBlock3.jpg
Views: 2337
Size:  61.6 KB

And then I tried to darken that green cloth in shadow. I ruined it.

Name:  RedBlock4.jpg
Views: 2360
Size:  72.7 KB

I am seriously regretting my choice of both paper and pastels here, thinking I should start over with a) something toothier and b) Nupastels where I've got more of a range and am doing less mixing and substituting.

I had a much darker blue-green that I went in onto the blue-green shadow and then a little into the other shadow to darken it, then repeated everyhting from stage two.

Unfortunately I got that patch in the middle of it that just wouldn't hold any more pastel even with fixative.

I am now thinking of working on better paper and going smaller, cause working this big is seriously killing my back. I know I'm supposed to be going outside my comfort zone, the problem is that when I go outside my physical comfort zone I don't function so well. When the back springs a warning, it's time to back up to something I know is physically easy.

Last edited by robertsloan2 : 11-02-2008 at 01:34 PM.
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Old 11-02-2008, 01:37 PM
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Re: Exploring Soft Pastels Class: Still-Life the Colourful Way!

You others, read this too! I'm using Elaine's development as a great example!

Elaine, great start! Good values, all over. Yes, I know colour 'misbehaves', so that's not a problem. What might become one, but I'm not sure, is that you may have applied a lot of pastel. But, it also depends on what kind of surface you work on. Is it plain paper? if it is, do you have a fixative, or softer pastels, for the next layer?

Compared with your before-sketch: You've seen the different values in the block, excellent! You've seen that the top is yellower, great! The only really weak point is the cast shadow, it is too light in value, even for a loose sketch like this.

I think you have added the cast shadow *after* and *on top of* the basic colours of the cloths. And I'm so glad you did (if you did?), and that you show us this sketch, because now I can point out to us all that it is important to nail down the values in the start, and to treat a shadow as a separate mass.

Compare the sketch to what you've painted so far in the Paint-along: You have established a strong clear pattern of dark and light, you'd have to be really 'violent' with the values to mess them up now, they are so strong and clear. The underlying design is what carries a painting. As someone said "values do all the work, but colour gets the glory".

Really well done, Elaine!

Charlie


Quote:
Originally Posted by mississhippi
Charlie, this is a great class. I've done a sketch 'before' and then another following your instructions.
Sketch#1 - done before Charlie's instructions on 'how-to'


Sketch#2 - after Charlie's 'how-to'
I must admit that I don't have the full palette that you have detailed in Stage 1, Charlie, so I have had to improvise. This photo has washed out the greens and I don't have Photoshop to fix it, but they are there! Also, photo taken tonight so colours not the best anyway.


This is fun Charlie. I look forward to the next lesson!
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Old 11-02-2008, 01:44 PM
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Re: Exploring Soft Pastels Class: Still-Life the Colourful Way!

Thanks Charlie. You spent a great deal of time and effort in this. It is greatly appreciated. I will be starting my block painting today.

I just wanted to pass along a tip for viewing the photos. Many people may do this already, but it may help some people see the subtle changes that you talk about when adding a colour or tint. At the bottom of everybody's monitor there is a Change Zoom Level. It should look like a magnifying glass with a + in the glass. If you click on the drop menu, you can increase the picture size by 200 - 400%. I know this helps me see all the different colours and the layering effects more clearly.

Thanks again Charlie.

Doug
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Old 11-02-2008, 01:56 PM
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Re: Exploring Soft Pastels Class: Still-Life the Colourful Way!

For you all, too

Rob, starting over is an excellent choice! and of course "out of comfort zone" means only the psychological one, to be where we can learn something new -- you have to take good care of yourself physically! Do paint smaller, by all means.

But, Rob, while most of the values in the second pic are great, I'd like to see a more whitened pink and a more whitened blue in the blue cloth in light, if you have them. Or whiten down with white. It should be very near the yellow of the green-cloth-in-light, in value.

You all: Thanks to Rob's posting "in the spirit of the thread", I get the opportunity to tell you that you can do as many starts as you need to. If something goes wrong or off in the beginning stages, the first two, then very little will fix it in stages 3 and 4. I have a cupboard where a shelf is full of un-recycled starts in oils. With pastels, you can also brush off what doesn't work, and redo that area. Stage 2 is *the* most important in the whole process.

Thank you so much, Robert,

Charlie


Quote:
Originally Posted by robertsloan2
Well, I've done Stage 2...

Attachment 414880

And then I tried to darken that green cloth in shadow. I ruined it.

Attachment 414881

I am seriously regretting my choice of both paper and pastels here, thinking I should start over with a) something toothier and b) Nupastels where I've got more of a range and am doing less mixing and substituting.

I had a much darker blue-green that I went in onto the blue-green shadow and then a little into the other shadow to darken it, then repeated everyhting from stage two.

Unfortunately I got that patch in the middle of it that just wouldn't hold any more pastel even with fixative.

I am now thinking of working on better paper and going smaller, cause working this big is seriously killing my back. I know I'm supposed to be going outside my comfort zone, the problem is that when I go outside my physical comfort zone I don't function so well. When the back springs a warning, it's time to back up to something I know is physically easy.
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Old 11-02-2008, 02:07 PM
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Re: Exploring Soft Pastels Class: Still-Life the Colourful Way!

Doug, thank you! I've worked with PCs since 1988 or so, and have had one in my home since 1994. I'd never seen that nifty little zoom until last week, when Hubby pointed it out to me... I thought I was the only one in the whole world...


And thank you for the the thought: Really, I'm the one who's learning the most from doing this, so it is a great bonus to me. Takes time, and I wouldn't have taken it for myself only... I'm now forced to be clear and systematic, and get down in writing all the stuff that's in the attic of my head. And to not rush on with the stages.

Charlie

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dougwas
Thanks Charlie. You spent a great deal of time and effort in this. It is greatly appreciated. I will be starting my block painting today.

I just wanted to pass along a tip for viewing the photos. Many people may do this already, but it may help some people see the subtle changes that you talk about when adding a colour or tint. At the bottom of everybody's monitor there is a Change Zoom Level. It should look like a magnifying glass with a + in the glass. If you click on the drop menu, you can increase the picture size by 200 - 400%. I know this helps me see all the different colours and the layering effects more clearly.

Thanks again Charlie.

Doug
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Old 11-02-2008, 02:25 PM
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Re: Exploring Soft Pastels Class: Still-Life the Colourful Way!

Thanks, Charlie. I really appreciate your validating my starting over like this. LOL -- I felt so embarrassed to be the first quitter that chucked his efforts to start over, now you're saying that's the best way to handle it if things go seriously awry.

Whew! I'm marking off a piece of warm white Canson right now, and I know Nupastel on Canson will let me do a lot more layering. Plus the 96 set has a lot more tints and I can use Rembrandts in with them.
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Old 11-02-2008, 02:54 PM
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Re: Exploring Soft Pastels Class: Still-Life the Colourful Way!

Truly, it's perfect to start over. My teacher's teacher didn't even let beginners finish a painting. I think he had them stop after finishing stage 2, and do a new start, until they got the starts right! His reasoning was that he wanted them to spend time on getting starts right, not on trying to fix what really wasn't fixable in later stages.

General info:
Do use Canson, it should take as much layering as the paper I'm using (Ingres), or more. I'm using ordinary pastel paper just because I want to show it is possible to layer (but I don't really love it), and also because most people have some ordinary pastel paper at home, and if they just want to try this method, then it doesn't cost anything, almost. If I'd used colourfix or one of the sandpapers, those who painted on ordinary pastel paper would've thought they did wrong, while it actually was the paper that couldn't take more layers.

So use Colourfix or a sanded paper if you want to. Especially if you're heavy handed, and fill up the tooth of the Canson/Ingres/whatnot real quick.

Charlie
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Old 11-02-2008, 03:18 PM
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Re: Exploring Soft Pastels Class: Still-Life the Colourful Way!

The Reprise!

Sketch (stage 1) in the darker of the two violet-red tints:

Name:  RB_1.jpg
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Size:  24.2 KB

Stage 1 basic underlayers with Nupastels on white Canson Mi-Tientes:

Name:  RB_2.jpg
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Size:  49.2 KB

My green-yellow came out lighter in the scan than it is on the page, and my background violet-red tint came out darker in the scan. I'm satisfied with the value on the page. It was too dark at first when I just used the one I sketched in, so I went over it with the same hue one tint up and mixed them.

Now to start Stage 2 again. I think my blue-green is darker now, though I am mildly concerned it's a little too dark compared to my violet-blue Ultramarine.

My orange stick in this set is a lot closer to red than the one in the other set I was using.

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