Not Quite Monet, But Still Fun...

"Reflection" 18 x 24 Chalk Pastel on Paper
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Started this one in March-- I don't usually get this abstract, but it was kind of like working on a puzzle.

It started with a photo of the lilies in the water at the Grand Tradition in Fallbrook, California. In this photo, the water with the reflection of the trees above was the real star. I chose dark, plum-toned Canson pastel paper, and began blocking in lights and darks, with a focus on big shapes.

Then, as sometimes happens, I got stuck. Or, as my toddler says, "Skuck!" I let the painting sit, and added bits here and there, but couldn't figure out how to fix it.

Finally, I realized that one big problem was the lilypads-- they went straight across the bottom of the page. So, I varied the height, so they were more at an angle. After that, it was on to the other problem: the piece looked like a big blur of pastel shades.

One thing I've learned over the last few months about painting on dark toned paper is that I still need to use dark pastel to define some of the lights. It started with painting palm trees at the spa-- the lights weren't quite as bright until I added in some dark strokes for contrast. I thought I would try the same approach with the reflected trees in the water for this work, and took some dark pastel to the piece. It looked much more defined, and began to take shape as a painting. It turned out fairly abstract, but if you look close, you can still make out the shapes of the lilypads. It was an experiment, and a good chance for me to reflect on the changes I was making over time, rather than painting in my usual fury.

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