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Old 08-11-2010, 10:19 PM
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Re: The Spotlight - August 2010 - Focusing on Focus

Robin, Very nice! I think you've done a real nice job on the focus! The front two flowers do have the most focus, the third flower just subtly less, and then various increasing softening of the rest! The flowers really pop out of the dark background!

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

Thanks Don for such clear examples. I agree with Ruthie for much the same reasons the first one appeals for it's sharpness but the second "focuses" our attention on rest of the painting which all works in harmony.

I am currently working on a painting which has been bothering me. It is of a painting with background trees of various depths and a boy in the foreground. After your example I realize the trees are all in focus so if I blurr some I think it will work better.

You have all done some lovely examples here and I hope to have a go soon. Jen
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Old 08-12-2010, 07:35 AM
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Re: The Spotlight - August 2010 - Focusing on Focus

Ruth, I forgot to comment on your latest pears! You have definitely put the focus on the back pear! I like this version!

Don
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Old 08-12-2010, 01:39 PM
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Re: The Spotlight - August 2010 - Focusing on Focus

ArbySD I love your flowers. The yellow of them brings the up nicely on focus. I also like the bold colors you picked.

tvandeb nice job! You got a lot done in such little time!

Ruthie, I think your pears are PERFECT!

Don, what a wonderful painting, and a wonderful lesson! I personally like the version number 3 the best. Blurring the foreground some really focus on the tree, without diminishing the colors. The number 4 seems too dreamy, and number 2 is more realistic, but really a nice one. Just my opinion, no expert here though!
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Old 08-12-2010, 02:42 PM
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Re: The Spotlight - August 2010 - Focusing on Focus

Don, thanks for the photos and the lesson. I wasn't going to post this because I didn't put blurry edges to it and just wanted to have fun with it my way but Robert suggested that I should. So here it is.

Daler Rowney soft pastel
65 lb red cardstock with colorfix clear primer 8.5 x 11 inch

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Old 08-12-2010, 03:37 PM
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Re: The Spotlight - August 2010 - Focusing on Focus

Sandra, you found a way other than softening and blurring edges to bring the focus to his nose. In caricature, exaggeration also helps draw attention to a focal point - in this case his nose and then his sunglasses. The strongest contrast is between his sunglasses and his nose. The nose itself is very prominent. Lastly, you loosened up your strokes down toward the bottom on his shoulders, so the white highlight on his nose draws more attention than the white shirt he's wearing.

So you did a number of things to create interest in the focal point. You just didn't smudge or blur things to do it, that's all. The nose has the most layers of different colors too, along with the lenses of the sunglasses. I think you did a great job of directing focus.
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Old 08-12-2010, 03:51 PM
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Smile Re: The Spotlight - August 2010 - Focusing on Focus

Abry; Gorgeous colors on your sunflowers.
Sandra; wow, really like your approach on the portrait! I have never done portraits so I always steer away from them- Very nice.

Don; Sure would be nice if you could do a step by step demo on how you capture lights to darks on trees; landscapes, I know me as a newbie to pastels could use a demo and I'm sure others could benefit also. Just a thought.
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Old 08-12-2010, 04:36 PM
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Re: The Spotlight - August 2010 - Focusing on Focus

Sandra,

Very nice! Remember, you don't need to make any edges blurry! Focus can be everywhere, too. That's one of the options. I do notice there is some variation in edges - the ears and the hat are not as sharp as many other areas. Zooming in this close also changes the focus in a way, too.

Don
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Old 08-12-2010, 04:43 PM
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Re: The Spotlight - August 2010 - Focusing on Focus

Quote:
Originally Posted by tvandeb
Don; Sure would be nice if you could do a step by step demo on how you capture lights to darks on trees; landscapes, I know me as a newbie to pastels could use a demo and I'm sure others could benefit also. Just a thought.

Thanks, Deb, but I am nowhere near experienced enough to do a demo for a landscape. My landscapes are trial and error, with lots of choosing the wrong color then trying to fix things, etc!

Last month, Paula did a great demo which can be found here:

http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=630093

Hope this helps!

Don
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Old 08-13-2010, 01:59 AM
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Re: The Spotlight - August 2010 - Focusing on Focus

Thank you, Robert, Tammy, Don for your comments. I had fun with him.

Here's one more.

Daler Rowney soft pastel
Derwent pastel pencil
65 lbs blue cardstock with colofix primer 8.5 x 11 inch
Only used half a page.

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Old 08-13-2010, 02:23 PM
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Re: The Spotlight - August 2010 - Focusing on Focus

Sandra. I like the close up of Don's Father. I think you've caught his look. With the other one you seem to have put the focus on the water. was that your intention? It's quite effective anyway!
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Old 08-13-2010, 02:27 PM
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Re: The Spotlight - August 2010 - Focusing on Focus

Very cool version of the dock and boat. I agree with Ruthie that the water's got more of the focus, it's beautiful.
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Old 08-13-2010, 03:40 PM
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Re: The Spotlight - August 2010 - Focusing on Focus

Sandra, Very nice! The intense blue of the water, with contrasting light colored "ripples" does put a lot of emphasis on the water. The boat, with those very intense, hard edged green strokes draws the eye very much as well!

Don
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Old 08-13-2010, 04:23 PM
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Re: The Spotlight - August 2010 - Focusing on Focus

Well, as requested, I started to do a WIP (work in progress) - but, as you will see, I sort of abandoned the WIP fairly quickly as the painting was going nowhere! But I will show the first few steps as they might give you some ideas on one technique of starting a painting.

I never used a wet underpainting until a few months ago, but I have found that it is a good way to get the background colors onto the paper without having those colors mix and blend with what you paint over the top.

In this case I lay down the basic water and foreground color in pastel. Notice at this stage I already put in the variation in the water color. Then I brush some rubbing alcohol over the whole painting. I could also use water or paint thinner. Make sure your paper can handle wet techniques!



Next I look at the big general shapes. I want to put down a fairly dark color/value. I am not packing the color in. It is a bit loose - trying not to fill in the tooth.



I am putting down the dark colors first because the lighter colors are always on top of objects. For example, the dock has cracks between the boards, and perhaps other holes, nicks, textures. These are all below the top layer, so to speak, and in shadow. The same is true for rocks or trees - even grass. Below the topmost layer is shadow. So I put that shadow color in first. This way I can put the lights in on top. When I do, everyplace I leave a gap, the shadow color is there already! And the topmost layer of light is physically on top of the shadow, just as it really is. So, here I begin laying in lighter colors to depict the boards of the dock.



Now you can see on the farthest part of the dock, I have already laid in too much of the lighter colors, and the cracks between the boards are already obscured! So, as is often the case, I will still need to go back in with some darks later! But generally speaking, I am trying to work from dark to light.

Keep in mind that is one way to do it, but not the only way. I have done many paintings working from light to dark - and others starting in the middle!

At this point, I am trying to find the shapes that depict the light areas and the shapes that depict the shadows and the darks. Gradually, I try to get more precise and detailed. Some of the base colors will remain - if I do it right!

Unfortunately, I am not doing it right very often! I am continually using colors that are not working well. In the end, I use 10 or more pastels for the dock. The foreground, too, I rework over and over again. Luckily, I am using a sanded paper and can add layers fairly easily - but things are far muddier than I want, and it is hard to get a really light or dark value to show over the amount of muddy pastel that is already on the paper. Since I do not really want any evidence of my stumbling and bumbling, the camera has been put aside!

In the end, however, I get the painting to look OK. (It looks far better in the small photo than in real life!)

In terms of focus, I have tried to put the sharpest lines and details on the boat and far end of the dock. The foreground has blurrier lines and not much variation in value. The overhanging branches, too, are blurred.


Uart 500 grit paper, approx. 11' x 7". Assorted pastels including Mt. Visions, Giraults, Conte and one Polychromos.

Even though there is about 90 minutes of work between steps 3 and the final, it might be interesting to note that by putting in the basic big shapes first, the overall painting didn't change that much between steps 3 and 4. Just adding light and shadow and ultimately more details. In my case, it was reworked and redone over and over, but all within the basic shapes that were put down initially.

I hope this was of some help!

Don
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Old 08-13-2010, 05:04 PM
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Re: The Spotlight - August 2010 - Focusing on Focus

Nice work Don! Thanks for showing the WIP and putting your comments about the stages. It all sounded so familiar! I may start off with a wet underpainting, then block in the darks, then add other colours.....which look wrong so I add more, go back in with the darks, put more colour on....layer and layer 'til it looks right! I'm so glad I'm not the only one!
But in the end it's turned out very well, despite you failing to show us pics of the "ugly" stages, lol.
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