First, I chose a reference photo to use - in this case, a crop of a photo of Hermosa Creek north of Durango, CO this summer. The photo itself was pretty unremarkable; shot in late afternoon sun, the sky was completely blown out. But, when cropped, it suddenly had more appeal. So, I went with it. To distill it into more simple shapes and values, I first posterized it. And while the original photo has been cropped of all sky, I decided to convert the upper middle part (mountains IRL) to sky. It works.
Here is the "digital notan" version:
Challenge notan/value study
I decided on a size of approx 6x8" and allotted 30 min. for each study, in order to keep them loose and not make them too "precious". I am going to do 5 per week, for basically as long as I am getting value from the challenge. I am keeping a notebook of the materials, time, and notes about each of the studies. As I state in my "about me" section, I promised to post the wins *and* the fails. We learn from our mistakes and failures.
Challenge #1 - monochromatic study in green
soft pastel on neutral grey Mi-Tientes paper, 6x8"
This went quickly and I was pleased with the end result. This shows that if you've got the correct values, the colors really don't matter so much. Completed 10/5
Challenge #2 - spring colors
soft pastel on 400-grit sandpaper. 5.5x8"
The surface is wet/dry sandpaper available at your hardware store. It has the advantage of being: 1) inexpensive; 2) readily available. I don't mind tossing it out if things don't work. The pastels lay down nicely on the surface, and it has enough tooth to hold a few layers. I didn't spend as much time choosing colors, and we've got warm and cool going on. At least I did keep the cooler ones confined to the distance.
Challenge #4 - fall colors
soft pastel on MT creme paper, smooth side. 6x8".
This is awful. I didn't take the time to choose proper values or colors that harmonize well with each other, and it shows. Plus, the pastel would not lay down well on the paper. I don't mind seeing some paper through the pastel, but it wasn't my intent in this case. I might keep it for a while as a reminder of "what not to do again" before I throw it out. The fact that I was really tired and had a headache didn't help.
I will continue to post these as I go, but may begin to select the more interesting ones as time goes on. This is a great exercise and I will undoubtedly do it again with different subjects and with oils as well.