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Old 03-07-2008, 05:06 PM
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EdK EdK is offline
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Williamsville, NY
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Demo - Summer Light

I have been asked to provide a demo of how I paint pine trees. So I photographed my progress through my next painting in an attempt to illustrate how I am currently working. I apologize for some of the poor photos. They may be slightly out of focus, but I believe still exhibit the idea at that particular step. The colors appear on my monitor to also be slightly cooler than in real life. Glad I am not a photographer by profession or I would not eat much.

Here is the reference photo. I chose this photo because it offered some challenges in composition and all that green. As with working with photos, colors were not as saturated as in real life and the dark shadows become too dark in the photo. It made it difficult for me to resolve some of the shapes and relationships. I like to use the photo only as a reference and do not try to copy it.

I chose to work on water color paper treated with a gesso/marble dust mixture. This is a surface that I have been experimenting with lately. It has just enough tooth and I like how the variations of the brush strokes from applying the gesso mixture add additional texture. I took some care to draw in my basic shapes with pencil. This process helps me resolve elements in relation to each other, e.g. this tree is behind this other tree, etc. Often it can be difficult to discern due to the poor quality of the photos. This step is important because it maps out how I think the painting will progress and allows me to evaluate the composition and make adjustments quite easily. I also know at this point where I have issues with masses or areas and can begin thinking how I may resolve them as I progress through the painting. I liked the path and the cast shadows and felt that it was an important part of the painting.

After I was comfortable with the preliminary drawing I would mass in color using water colors as an under painting. Water color lightens as it dries and I had to repeat some of the areas to obtain the darken values as a base. Typically I try to make the under painting darker than the final value of the pastel. At this point my main goal is to identify my shadow and light masses. Detail was not important at this point, nor specific color. One of the challenges for me was to decide how to emphasis the shadow area or the sunlit area. I decided to wash out the detail in the sunlit area to emphasis how strong the light was. Therefore my pastels would be high key in this area.

At this point I began applying pastels. I worked with a variety of brands and hardness. The decision was based upon color availability and not hardness. I felt that I wanted to portray the bright summer light and therefore began with these areas of the painting. I was also uncertain at this point on how I would resolve all the dark greens of the pine trees in the shadows.

Now I started to move around the picture blocking in some larger color. This photo is more on the blue side and does not show the violets in the shadows on the path. You can also see where I repositioned some of the tree trunks on the left to vary the spacing. At this point I am still not sure how I will resolve the dark shadow masses of the foreground trees. I added the single tree down the center of the painting to draw the viewer along the path. I also softened some of the shadows, especially as they progressed in distance or further from the source. I added some color the background trees. You can also see that I started adding some darks in the foreground trees.

This photo has a little better color to it than the previous one. I continued to build up the pine trees in the foreground. I paid careful attention to the lights, being slightly warmer in value, and the direction of the shapes of the branches. I also worked on the smaller tree in the foreground to the right. This helped add interest to a mass of darks and I believe additional depth. It also repeated a pattern with the lighter more yellow green tree down the path. I also added some warmth in the distant ground and lightened the sky to help with the appearance of bright sunlight. I continued to add some colors in the shadowed areas under the tree and softened some edges.

Here is a close up of the shadow areas in the path. I think some of the violets show up better.

I continue to make some adjustments as I go along to the trees and background. I did not like the repetition in the tops of the background trees and added some more mass to vary the spacing. I also worked on part of the shadow to the right to continue it off the page. At this point in time I will let it sit for a while, sometimes a month or two, and see if I wish to make any additional changes.

As always comments and crits are welcome. I hope you enjoyed it. Thanks for looking.

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Old 03-07-2008, 05:14 PM
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AliciaS AliciaS is offline
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Re: Demo - Summer Light

wow..thanks Ed..this comes just when I need it!! i am learning landscapes...i see your road..really looks like a road!! and all those beautiful greens...Thanks so much for taking the time to do this!! it is beautiful!!
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Old 03-07-2008, 06:30 PM
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claydesigner2156 claydesigner2156 is offline
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Re: Demo - Summer Light

Ed, thanks for the lesson. Working with all those greens is quite a challenge. Only thing I think I might have wanted was a dark green/shadow in the very near foreground. I know drawing the eye to the path is the goal ...and I am still learning so I may be way off base, but that is my only thought. Anybody else feel the same????
Yvonne in NC
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Old 03-07-2008, 06:46 PM
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kerrifleming kerrifleming is offline
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Re: Demo - Summer Light

What a great lesson. I'm going to have to try underpainting w/ watercolors now. It is just beautiful. I had to go back to the reference photo, and I see what Yvonne is talking about. A shadow in the foreground, would make you feel like you are still among the trees. But either way, it looks great!
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Old 03-07-2008, 06:54 PM
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maw-t maw-t is offline
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Re: Demo - Summer Light

Well I certainly enjoyed it! Thanks so much.. I have not done but two landscapes in pastels & one of them was done LEFT handed (im a righty) as a challenge.. This is just beautiful!!!
C & Cs _always_ welcome!
Blessings & HaPpY day to you!

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Old 03-07-2008, 07:52 PM
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Bringer Bringer is offline
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Re: Demo - Summer Light


Quote : "I like to use the photo only as a reference and do not try to copy it."

And thus the "life" quality of your work.
It's a fine painting, indeed.
I could bet that you do plein air painting.

Kind regards,


Read about it on my Blog

I'm not lazy because I sleep until late. I just dream alot.
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Old 03-07-2008, 08:32 PM
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Dougwas Dougwas is offline
Salmon Arm, British Columbia
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Re: Demo - Summer Light

Thank you for the WIP Ed. It is always interesting to see the steps in a painting. You did a great job on the trees. I like the painting the way it is.

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Old 03-07-2008, 09:01 PM
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Punky2 Punky2 is offline
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Re: Demo - Summer Light

This is a wonderful demo! Thank you so much. Great painting too.

I am rating this thread 5 so that hopefully it will go in the library.
C & C always welcome
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Old 03-07-2008, 09:25 PM
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LouAnn LouAnn is offline
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Milledgeville, Ga new home
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Re: Demo - Summer Light

Wonderful!! I'm considering trying to do a pastel. Have no idea where to start, but this is great and will be listed in "my favorites".. for referencing!! Thanks for a great instructional piece..
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Old 03-07-2008, 10:16 PM
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mrking mrking is offline
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Re: Demo - Summer Light

More, More, More....

Wonderful. Thanks!
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Old 03-07-2008, 11:01 PM
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aprajita aprajita is offline
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Re: Demo - Summer Light

Very good demo... I have never tried pastels... Now I think I'm going to experiment with them next great Job!!

Congratulate yourselves if you have done something strange and extravagant and broken the monotony of a decorous age.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
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Old 03-07-2008, 11:14 PM
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Adiro Adiro is offline
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Re: Demo - Summer Light

By the third picture I was like: hm, that looks veru mellow compared to the picture, but you made it come to life so gloriously with all those dark and light touches at the end!
It's BEAUTIFUL!!!!!!!!!!!
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Old 03-08-2008, 10:43 AM
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jkook jkook is offline
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Re: Demo - Summer Light

Nice demo but I still think there is magic involved ? Sure doesn't work that way when I try it.
Life may not be the party we hoped for, but....while we are here we might as well dance.
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Old 03-08-2008, 11:09 AM
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Merethe T Merethe T is offline
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Harstad, Norway
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Re: Demo - Summer Light

Great WIP, thank you!! Gorgeous painting, love those trees and shadows....
Going back for further study, landscapes are so hard to do - and this is just what I need!


My Website My blog
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Old 03-08-2008, 11:43 AM
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Paula Ford Paula Ford is offline
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Jasper, TN (in the mountains west of Chattanooga)
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Re: Demo - Summer Light

OH Ed! Thank you so much! What a wonderful demo and a fantastic painting...thank you thank you thank you!!!

Paula Ann Ford
My Blog
Manager of OnlineJuriedShows.com, IAPS Show Chair, Assoc. Member PSA, Member Pastel Society of Colorado, Member Adirondack Pastel Society

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