Pastel Project: Creating Distance with Value
(This is a combination of 2 weeks worth of work on the project, FYI)
Now that I have the background in and the foreground brush based in, it was time to start adding the foreground cactus.
Remember that we need to keep in mind that even if things are closer they still need to follow the rule that in the distance they get smaller, softer and grayer in color so the tall saguaros in the back need to be a grayer lighter color than the ones up close to the viewer. If you have limited colors in your pastels, you may need to use either a gray or a blue/gray with your green to get the proper value.
Another thing to watch is where the bottoms of the cactus start. be sure that they all don't start at the same point or they will be visually all on the same plane (distance from the viewer) and you won't get the depth even if you are watching your values. It will look confusing to the eye.
Even these closer cactus have slight differences in value so you can get a sense of 3 dimensions otherwise they look flat.
I used my darker gray/green and my indigo to create the silhouettes of these closer cactus. I also used the indigo to make the branches of the occatillo which is slightly in front of the two saguaros.
The rim lighting was a pale yellow color but it is not a solid line, it is a series of short choppy strokes mostly pulling into the cactus to create that spiky look of the cactus.
I also did some highlighting and shaping of the bushes around the bottom of the cactus.
I used the contrast between the dark and the light to show off the prickly pear cactus. Again, I added the spiky look with a series of little marks, this time using a darker yellow or golden color.
Use contrast to your advantage whenever you can, it brings life to your painting.
This was where I ended the class two weeks ago.
In the last class, I finished my painting by adding the brush coming in from the right hand side, shaping my brush a bit better, adding grasses and weeds and all the little things I felt were needed to make this painting feel complete.
Be sure to have your reference photo in front of you as you finish up your painting.
To the occatillo I added the suggestion of the red flowers they have in the spring time even though they were not in the photo I just felt like adding them. If you don't want to add them you do not need to.
I just used a dark red color and made a few marks at the very ends of the branches. don't get carried away, these are just suggestions. I also went over some of the branches with a dark brown especially near the bottom to make them look darker.
The branches coming in from the side were what gave me the most concern because I was so happy with everything else, I was afraid to just start scribbling all over my paper but I took a deep breath and my indigo and started making branches first.
The trick is, when you make branches on trees or bushes, do a lot of them and don't make them all nice and smooth they are quite chaotic if you really look at them - which you should before you start to put them in you painting. They may have a general direction but they make lots of twists and turns to get there, they also over lap on another. Don't be afraid to cross over other branches and twigs and don't end them all at the same place, that is called a hedge and it means that a person has come and pruned the plant. Make irregular shapes they are more natural.
Once I had the branches in with the indigo - if you look at the photo you will see some brighter branches that are catching the light - I used a soft light gray to highlight some of the branches before I added the leaves. The leaves were just a series of marks with a yellow/green/gray. I made clusters and covered up parts of the branches but I also left open spaces, desert plants usually don't have tons of leaves, they are small, tend to be near the stems and branches and there are quite a few dead branches in them.
The cholla at the bottom right are probably the simplest thing in the whole painting, like making stick figures. I used a very dark brown and made a series of straight lines connecting or coming off of each other to create the general shape of the cholla then with a light pink I made the spines the same way I did on all the other cactus with small inward strokes.
Finally, I went through my brush and added more shape to them - even in the darker areas - added highlights and suggestions of branches and to help create that glow I put light against dark to make it look like the sun was shining through the grasses, weeds and leaves.
Finish this up to your own satisfaction, I will be starting something new in the next class, probably the curled grape leaf if you want to follow along. Until then, keep painting and I will see you in class.