Tropical Layers

12 x 18 Chalk pastel on paper
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 There are times when I find myself hating a piece until the very end, when it all finally starts to make sense. This usually happens when I try something a little different, and am not sure if the risk is going to pay off artistically or not. "Tropicale" was one of those pieces. Once it was complete, I was quite happy with the experiment. I used dark green Canson Mi-Teintes paper, thinking the green would blend nicely with the background. I thought I would try to exercise some patience and build the trees with layers of color. It quickly turned into a battle between the colors, and I was fighting to keep the trees from turning into mud. I finally realized that no matter how many layers of lights I added to the foliage, it wouldn't look right until I went back in with some darks. I used my almost black gray pastel, and worked in some tiny shadows to emphasize the lights.

Once I was finished, I put the piece aside to look at it from afar. I noticed the sky needed a little work, so I used a fluffy watercolor brush to lift some color out of the sky, allowing the dark green paper to come through. I named the piece "Tropicale" because it has the feel of the tropics (mainly the palm trees against the deeply colored sky). It's based on a reference photo of the trees and plants behind the pools at Glen Ivy Hot Springs in southern California.

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  1. Niki, youve done a beautiful job with this painting, it really gives a great tropical feel, love all the line work youve done too..


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