Fruit Still Life Study in Oils Part 2 – Blocking in the Basic Colours

Blocking in the Basic Colours:

  • Once the wash drawing is dry, you can add all the basic colours and start to develop a sense of form.
  • From this stage onwards you can use all the colours – try to pay attention to the particular mixtures you use as it will help in later stages if you can roughly remember what you used to mix up all the different colours.
  • You will need to add a little oil to your mineral spirits this time (and in future sessions you will need to use more oil each time).
  • Start with the background as this will likely be quite a flat and neutral colour.
  • If the ground plane and background plane are different you will need to mix up two different colours.
  • Look for a slight gradient in the ground plane (ideally lighter at the front and darker at the back). As this will start to impart a sense of depth.
  • You can lighten the paint on the canvas by mixing up a lighter colour and blending it straight into the wet paint.
  • Make the edge between the shadow on the ground and the general ground colour slightly soft (we don’t want any hard edges at this stage).
  • Once the background is in – you mix up a colour for the fruit in shadow.
  • This may take some trial and error as you want the shadow to be the same value (darkness) and colour as your subject. Experiment with different mixtures until the colour looks good. 
  • You will have an opportunity to make adjustments with glazes later on so it doesn’t have to be perfect.
  • Once the fruit in shadow is done, follow the same process for the fruit in light.
  • Mix up some slightly darker tones to begin developing the halftones where the fruit colour turns from the shadow to the light. This will make the lemon appear more 3D.
  • You can also use a blender brush (a clean brush) to soften all the edges of the lemon. This will help make the form of the lemon more round and it will also get rid of any hard edges that would show through the later layers that are thinner and more transparent.
  • Once everything is roughly blocked in, you will need to leave the painting until it is touch dry before continuing onto the next stage.
Course Materials:
  • Small Canvas (stretched or board)
  • Easel
  • Palette
  • Palette Cups
  • Oil Paints
    • Titanium White
    • Cadmium Yellow (or equivalent bright yellow)
    • Burnt Umber
    • Raw Umber
    • Prussian Blue
    • Ivory Black
  • Various brushes (ideally a range of smaller and larger brushes, but whatever you have lying around will be fine)
  • Odourless mineral spirits
  • Linseed oil
  • Tape
  • Paper towel or rag for cleaning up

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Fruit Still Life Study in Oils Part 1 – Laying in a Wash Drawing

Laying in a Wash Drawing:

  • Set up your chosen fruit with a single direct light source (this could be a window or a bright spotlight) against a simple background.
  • For this stage, the only paint you will need to use is burnt umber (as well as the other materials and equipment listed below).
  • Use a medium sized flat brush to apply scrubby lines of burnt umber mixed with odourless mineral spirits. Avoid getting too much paint on the brush as we want to keep it light to start with.
  • Start with the simple proportions, such as the outside widths of the fruit and the ground line of the background.
  • Keep your lines straight so that they are easy to correct.

  • Once you sketched in the shapes of the shadows and background, you can lightly fill them in using the same scrubby hatching strokes.
  • This is a good time to make any corrections to the shapes that may become apparent.

  • When you’re happy with the general proportions of the shapes you can mix up some more paint and odourless mineral spirits and start using broader brush strokes to lay in darker tones.
  • Keep in mind the difference between the shadow on the fruit and the shadow cast by the fruit on the ground.

  • Finally, once you’ve darkened all the tones sufficiently, you can use a smaller brush to add some detail to the edges of these shapes, in preparation for next week.
  • Leave the painting until touch dry (usually 2-3 days)

Course Materials:
  • Small Canvas (stretched or board)
  • Easel
  • Palette
  • Palette Cups
  • Oil Paints
    • Titanium White
    • Cadmium Yellow (or equivalent bright yellow)
    • Burnt Umber
    • Raw Umber
    • Prussian Blue
    • Ivory Black
  • Various brushes (ideally a range of smaller and larger brushes, but whatever you have lying around will be fine)
  • Odourless mineral spirits
  • Linseed oil
  • Tape
  • Paper towel or rag for cleaning up

OCAD Studio: Still Life Copy in Mixed Media Part 7 – Adding the Final Details in the Foreground Using Pencil

Adding the final details in the foreground using pencil:

  • You can use the pencil in this stage in a very similar fashion to Part 6, starting with the shadows in the foreground elements and smoothing the tones out where necessary.
  • Once the shadows are complete, use the pencil to work carefully over the painted white areas, adding tonal shifts from the shadows into the lights in order to develop a better sense of 3D forms in these sections

  • You can also use the fine point of the pencil to add very fine details (such as the writing on the letter in this piece).
  • Make sure that you don’t go too dark with these elements as the image will appear too graphic if you make everything equally contrasted.

  • When adding details like text (such as the paper typeface and handwritten letter) try to capture the abstract feeling of those elements rather than studiously copying out the exact words.

  • That’s it! This mixed media drawing is now finished, hopefully you found this series useful and you are able to apply the processes you learnt when you’re working on your next piece.

Course Materials:

  • Paper
  • Compressed charcoal
  • Vine charcoal
  • Charcoal powder
  • Graphite pencils (from 2B – HB)
  • White Gouache or Acrylic paint
  • Various brushes (whatever you have lying around)
  • Drawing Board
  • Tape

OCAD Studio: Still Life Copy in Mixed Media Part 6 – Adding the Final Details in the Background Using Pencil

Adding the final details in the background using pencil:

  • Begin with the darker background elements.
  • You can use the graphite pencil to fill in the patchy texture made by the charcoal in the earlier stages.

  • Approach the image part by part, breaking down specific areas into smaller forms gradually.
  • See how the cut face of the ham has more detail now that I have worked over it with the pencil.

  • You can also use the pencil to create subtle transitions in smaller objects like the handle of the knife.

  • You can also use the pencil to darken and smooth those parts of the drawing that have a heavy amount of charcoal – like the darker bottles on the right.
  • Passing the pencil over these dark parts of the image with moderate pressure will shift and even out the charcoal dust, making for a smoother and darker look.

Course Materials:

  • Paper
  • Compressed charcoal
  • Vine charcoal
  • Charcoal powder
  • Graphite pencils (from 2B – HB)
  • White Gouache or Acrylic paint
  • Various brushes (whatever you have lying around)
  • Drawing Board
  • Tape