Pastel Lesson – Cherries

I have chosen this piece because it’s a nice easy introduction and it can be done quite nicely with cheap pastel paper and a set of cheap pastels.

The photo I’m using is from the “paint my photo” website kindly supplied by Sonja.

 

The size I painted is approximately 5 x 5 inches.

Photo thanks to Sonja
Photo thanks to Sonja

 

Supplies

Pastel paper –  Sanded paper (e.g. Wallis, Colorfix, Pastelcard, UArt), OR Pastel paper (e.g.Canson Mi Teintes, Ingres etc) or Charcoal paper (something with “tooth”)

Soft Pastels – NOT OIL PASTELS. Michael’s or Hobby Lobby sell very cheap ones (I don’t normally use these but I did a version of the cherries with a cheap Artist Loft set just to show it can be done). Mungyo makes a cheap, but reasonable quality student set. You can find better quality ones like Faber Castill, Rembrandt, NuPastel and many more expensive brands at your local art store.

Charcoal – soft vine  for transferring and drawing

Rigid board to hold paper. I use foam core

Masking tape

Wet wipes, or a damp cloth

Hand cream to protect you from the drying aspects of pastels

 

LET’S BEGIN

Use masking tape to secure your pastel paper to the board on all 4 sides. I like to tape a ¼ to ½ inch border this gives you something to hold the painting by without getting pastel on your fingers (in theory)

A small piece of foam core board. You can use mat board or another rigid backing board.
A small piece of foam core board. You can use mat board or another rigid backing board.

 

Draw your cherries on plain paper. Try to include the highlight and shadow areas. Turn the paper over and rub charcoal all over the back of the drawing.  Here is the drawing I used for my painting. You may use it or draw your own.

My drawing. You can print and use this if you want.
My drawing. You can print and use this if you want.
Rub back of drawing with soft vine charcoal
Rub back of drawing with soft vine charcoal

 

Tape your drawing to your paper. Now get a pen or pencil and trace the lines onto your pastel paper.

 

Use a pen or pencil to trace your drawing onto the pastel paper
Use a pen or pencil to trace your drawing onto the pastel paper

The lines may not be very strong, so go over them with charcoal again.  I have used a salvaged piece of sanded paper so ignore the background. The great thing about sanded papers is you can reuse them. Some papers will even stand up to being washed off in the sink!

I use soft vine charcoal to go over the lines again because they weren't quite strong enough for me to see.
I use soft vine charcoal to go over the lines again because they weren’t quite strong enough for me to see.

Start blocking in your cherry shapes. Try to think in terms of value. You will need 4 different values for the cherries  dark for the shadow, darker mid-tone, lighter mid-tone and a light. You will also need white at the end for the highlights. Here is the palette I have chosen for the body of the cherries.

My palette - dark purple, medium red, bright red and orange.
My palette – dark burgundy, medium red, bright red and orange.

I have a dark purple-y burgundy for the shadow area, a medium red and a bright red-orange for the main colour, and a bright orange the the brightest areas. I will also use white right at the end for the brightest highlights.

Starting the block in of the main shapes
Starting the block in of the main shapes

With the darkest colours start blocking in the main shapes. Leave the highlights unpainted. Look carefully to see the big shapes of colour in the cherries. Do not do any fiddly areas as yet!

More blocking in.
More blocking in.
Finished the main shapes
Finished the main shapes

The main shapes are now all blocked in. I used a dark green and a bright yellow/green for the stems along with a medium brown.

Everything is gently blended using a styrofoam packing peanut.
Everything is gently blended using a styrofoam packing peanut.

I usually blend the first layers but leave the later layers alone. I use styrofoam packing peanuts or foam pipe insulation to blend. If I am use regular pastel paper I will blend with my fingers, but I have learned the hard way not to use your fingers on sanded paper!

Adding more layers and working on the background
Adding more layers and working on the background

Keep adding layers of colours. You can blend if you want or leave the pastel marks for a little more expressive painting.  I also added a basic background of blues, greens and grey

 

Adding the highlights
Adding the highlights

Blend the background to make it more subtle. I want the cherries to be the focus of the painting. I added a few bright highlights to the foreground.

Colours for stems
Colours for stems – a brown, dark green and a yellow/green. I used the dark purple for deepening the shadow under the cherries.
Finished!
Finished!

Here more highlights are added, the shadow is strengthened with dark purple, and the edges are cleaned up. I crop my painting to a square format and I’m all finished.

 

NOTE: Here is the one I did with the cheaper Artist Loft or Reeves pastels. I used a piece of Canson pastel paper. I did this very quickly so I didn’t take as much care, but as you can see, you can get good results. (the purple isn’t so bright in real life!)

Cheap Artist Loft or Reeves pastels on Canson Paper.
Cheap Artist Loft or Reeves pastels on Canson Paper.
Palette I used from Artist Loft or Reeves Pastels
Palette I used from Artist Loft or Reeves Pastels – can’t remember which ones these are. They are very cheap. I use these with my very young students.

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