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