Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Shadows and Stuff

The Farm at the End of the Road, pastel, 8x10

In my morning classes this week we started a series on shadows. For this week's subject matter, we concentrated on making the shadows the focal point rather than other elements within the landscape that are typically chosen as focal points (i.e., barn, path, trees). In this painting, the viewer's eye is draw in by the shadows and led to the barn in the distance as a secondary focal point.

Since shadows have soft edges, I couldn't use hard edges as a method to draw the viewer's eye, which is one way an artist can do this. Instead, I had to use something else from my "artistic bag of tricks." In this case, I used vibrant color in the shadows and in the colors around the shadows.

Below are a few progression shots of "The Farm at the End of the Road." And following below that are some demo shots from my Tuesday night class this past week.

In my Tuesday night class, we did "The Five-shape Landscape" exercise, (which you can read more about in recent previous posts) in which we began the painting with five distinct abstract shapes. Below are some progression shots from this demo...

Winter Trees Waiting, pastel, 8x10


  1. Thanks for all the progression shots, Barbara. Your finished work is really nice! How do you get such soft edges in your alcohol-washed underpaintings? I must be doing something wrong because I end up with hard edges that need to be covered.

    1. Thanks for the comment, Donna. Sorry for my late reply...I was out of town and just returned this evening. Overly hard edges in the underpainting are a common complaint I hear. And you're right, the hard edges do end up needing to be covered up. I've found that much of that has to do with how you hold the brush. It's tricky trying to describe in words how I do this, but briefly, I don't hold the brush like pencil but more like how you'd point to something with it. I touch the skinny side of the bristles (not the flat side) to the pastel surface, which seems to help me maneuver the brush to control the application of the liquid and soften the edges. Maybe at some point I can post a photo of how I hold the brush to apply the underpainting.

    2. Thanks Barbara. I appreciate that explanation and will give it a try!

  2. I was wondering about that also...thanks for answering the question in such detail.