Still Life in Oil Pastels - Step 1
Draw the objects in line.
TECHNIQUE: In any still life, you should start drawing the objects as if they are transparent wire frame forms. This approach helps you to be fully aware of the shape of each individual form and its position in relation to the other forms. This see-through drawing technique also uses vertical and horizontal lines of construction to help you to draw convincing ellipses and to balance the symmetry of cylindrical forms.
NOTE: When you are working with oil pastels it is not usually good practice to start your drawing using a black crayon as it will contaminate the purity and freshness of any colors applied over it. In this case the initial sketch was done in violet. After some tests it was found that most of the other colors in the box blended comfortably on top of the violet crayon.
Still Life in Oil Pastels - Step 2
Color the background and foreground first.
TECHNIQUE: At this stage of the work, the foreground and background were loosely blocked in using a dark and light green respectively. A tissue was then used to soften the texture of the pastels and blend the color more smoothly. Next some dark blue was lightly applied to create the areas of shade. Finally, the tissue was used again to blend the various colors together and refine the tones of the shadows.
NOTE: When drawing a still life, you normally start with the nearest object and work towards the background of the group. However, when applying color in paint or pastels you reverse this process, starting with the background and working towards the front. You will find that this method helps to improve the sharpness and accuracy of your work as you are always drawing the edge of an object over its background. This way there are no awkward gaps left between any object and its background.
Still Life in Oil Pastels - Step 3
Color the objects starting at the back.
TECHNIQUE: After applying color to the background and foreground you move on to the objects at the rear of the still life group. A basic brown crayon was used to draw in the dark tones of the bottles. The lighter tones and reflections were left as the white of the paper. Again a tissue was used to smooth out the rough texture of the crayon and blend the tones more gradually into one another.
NOTE: Although it is not obvious in our illustration, it is helpful to lightly sketch the shapes of any shadows or reflections onto each object before you start applying the color.
Still Life in Oil Pastels - Step 4
Build up the color of the vase.
TECHNIQUE: The form of the large vase on the left hand side of the still life was built up with broad layers of yellow, red and blue. These colors were subsequently blended together with a white crayon. A tissue was then used to smooth and unify the overall tone to create the mottled effect of this color.
NOTE: When you are building up layers of color on top of one another, do so lightly as an excessive thickness of the oil crayon will start to resist the application of more color. If this happens, use a palette knife to scrape off the excess crayon so that you can apply fresh color.
Still Life in Oil Pastels - Step 5
Add the colorful reflections to the cup.
TECHNIQUE: The distorted shapes of the reflections on the silver cup were carefully drawn from close observation but loosely colored, exercising care not to overdo the darker tones. These reflected colors and tones were mixed by various combinations of red, blue and dark green. The lightest tones, which were created without any white crayon, were achieved by allowing the white of the paper to shine through.
NOTE: In an attempt to keep the color as fresh as possible, no black was used in the creation of the darker tones.
Still Life in Oil Pastels - Step 6
Complete the basic colors and tones.
TECHNIQUE: The final step in completing the basic colors and tones of our still life was to shade in the green apple. It was initially colored using a bright yellow which would establish a luminous foundation for the darker layers of green to be applied at a later stage. The areas of darker tone on the apple were suggested by smudging a light green into the yellow.
NOTE: This step completes the application of the basic shapes, tones and colors of the still life. It is only once you cover all the major areas of white that you should to start to adjust and balance the colors and tones of the work to create a unified composition.