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Old 08-09-2010, 12:34 PM
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Re: The Spotlight - August 2010 - Focusing on Focus

I love your pears Ruthie! To me they look perfect, but hey, what do I know!

I too have been having problems with the site. I have not gotten any of my subscriptions for several days.
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Old 08-09-2010, 09:23 PM
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Red face Re: The Spotlight - August 2010 - Focusing on Focus

Wow, really great paintings so far, really like the different ways they have been painted. I'm a bit late this month.. Finished the boat at the dock, very small one 4" x 4" green velour with pastel pencils and various semi-hard and soft pastels.
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Old 08-10-2010, 12:03 AM
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Re: The Spotlight - August 2010 - Focusing on Focus

Tammy, very nice!
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Old 08-10-2010, 05:01 AM
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Re: The Spotlight - August 2010 - Focusing on Focus

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



Good one Tammy! What do you think of velour?
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Old 08-10-2010, 11:18 AM
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Re: The Spotlight - August 2010 - Focusing on Focus

Tammy, Very nice! It's hard to get details on velour - especially that small! Nice job!

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

Don
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Old 08-10-2010, 07:44 PM
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Smile Re: The Spotlight - August 2010 - Focusing on Focus

Ruthie; Wow, I really like your pears really nice color choices!!!!

I finally finished the still life with fruit; really tough one, I may go back and fix some areas something doesn't look quite right...
Done on 8" x 5" white velour with pastels pencils and semi-hard and soft pastels.
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Old 08-10-2010, 08:03 PM
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Re: The Spotlight - August 2010 - Focusing on Focus

Great work everybody. I just read through the thread and looked at all the paintings and enjoyed looking at every one of them. I hope to join in the fun in the next few days.

Keep letting the dust fly.


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Old 08-11-2010, 02:16 PM
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Re: The Spotlight - August 2010 - Focusing on Focus

Tammy, very nice. I specially like the counter!
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Old 08-11-2010, 02:56 PM
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Re: The Spotlight - August 2010 - Focusing on Focus

Tammy, Very nice! This is very much in focus. Those dark shadows accentuate the sharp focus of the piece.

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Old 08-11-2010, 03:06 PM
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Re: The Spotlight - August 2010 - Focusing on Focus

Tammy, good effort. I like the different textures you've produced. I passed over this one as it seemed so complicated but you've dealt with it very well.

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

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

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

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Old 08-11-2010, 03:26 PM
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Re: The Spotlight - August 2010 - Focusing on Focus

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



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

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



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



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



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

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

Some questions that I ask myself:

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

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

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

Version 1 and 2:



Version 3 and 4:



Comments, Questions and Discussion welcome!

Don
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Old 08-11-2010, 03:43 PM
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Re: The Spotlight - August 2010 - Focusing on Focus

Wow! Don, that's great showing the different paintings together. Food for thought definitely.
I really like the focused overhanging leaves, they are so well done. However, although it is a lovely painting, those leaves actually seem to draw the eye away fromn the other elements of the painting because they are so sharp and dark and prominent.
In the second it's almost a shame to see them go but I think, as you said, there is more emphasis on the tree itself.
Now, I have to say that I prefer the flowers in sharp focus in pic 2. I feel something has been lost from the painting when they are blurred down, either way you've shown it.
I think that, even in sharp focus, they play an important supporting role and are an exciting element of the painting. Maybe it is the case, in this scene, that the tree itself isn't interesting enough to be the star of the show. If it were in it's Autumn foliage then that may be different again!
My opinion, which has only been made possible for me to form by your great idea of showing us different options!
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Old 08-11-2010, 07:06 PM
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Smile Re: The Spotlight - August 2010 - Focusing on Focus

Ruthie: Great update on the pears!
Don: Wow, great paintings on the trees; really like the way you handle the lights and darks-wow.
I re-worked some areas on the still life, I wsn't satified with the first one. Also did the still life pears on sanded paper ( not used to painting on sanded paper yet, seems hard to me) various soft and semi hard pastels.
Here also is the sunflowers, my version on black velour with various soft pastels. Great refs this month, Don; Thanks!!!
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Old 08-11-2010, 10:12 PM
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Re: The Spotlight - August 2010 - Focusing on Focus

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



Various pastels and pastel pencils on bristol coated with golden pastel ground.
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Old 08-11-2010, 10:15 PM
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Re: The Spotlight - August 2010 - Focusing on Focus

Tammy, Very nice paintings! You have been so productive this month!

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

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

Don
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