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.
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
Wet wipes, or a damp cloth
Hand cream to protect you from the drying aspects of pastels
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)
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.
Tape your drawing to your paper. Now get a pen or pencil and trace the lines onto your 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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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
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.
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!)