View Full Version : My first pastel still life

08-21-2013, 05:39 AM
Hi everyone! :wave:
I am new to WC as well as to the pastels, and this is my first pastel still life. The original is 17x21 cm. Not sure about the paper, but the colours are koh-i-noor's toison d'or.
I am quite happy with the outcome, although the vase looks a bit deformed.
I would like to know what do you use for sketching? I used the pastel I was later drawing with, but in the process I somehow "lost the lines" and it ended looking strange :). And also how do you store the completed image? I don't really like the effect a fixative does.
Your opinions are very welcomed.

08-21-2013, 07:57 AM
Welcome to the pastel forum! This is very nicely done!

I, too, lay in my initial sketch with a pastel. Rather than think in terms of "line" when you lay in your sketch, you might think of blocking in shapes (silhouettes of the entire shapes rather than lines) - that way you don't lose the lines as you add layers of pastel. Just a thought. It's a different way of working (not necessarily better) but might be interesting to try!

I store my completed pastels by "hinge" taping them to a piece of foam board, then tape down a piece of tracing paper over the painting. Some folks use glassine to cover the painting, but it is a bit more expensive and I am cheap!


08-21-2013, 10:30 AM
and welcome . :)

all my work is on paper , and there are subtle variations between types/brands !
some of the papers take in the colour of any stick and even the most vigorous erasing still leaves a ' ghost ' of the colour .
- making corrections to lines outlines/edges won't come away clean , so ,
vine or willow charcoal is my choice for sketching/composition .
-- it wipes , erases , or brushes away easily , and the ghost is a neutral gray .

other folks here will have other ideas about your question .
- ' Mai - Portrait WIP ' on this page shows how the first layer of colour influences and/or blends with additional layers in making a finished painting .

Don's suggestion for storage is good .


08-21-2013, 02:15 PM
When trying out man-made objects in a still life, one of the things you need to tackle is the perspective of elipses....it is why the vase looks a bit wonky.

You can check this out by holding up a glass. (the first image top left) Look at the rim. When the rim is at your eye level, the back of the glass and front of the glass line up with each other. Glance down the glass to the base without moving its position, you will notice that the base of the glass has a DOWN curve. Now shift the glass up a bit. See how the elipses change.

This is crucial. See how your base of the vase is a flat line? This would only be possible if the base was at your eye level. But we can see into the neck, so it is BELOW your eye level. This means that the elipses, as we work our way down the vase, will get deeper and deeper. It takes a while to get this, because our mind tells us the vase is sitting on a flat table!


In these images, eye level is wherever the lines are horizontal. Everything above the horizontal curves UP, and everything below the horizontal, curves DOWN.

08-21-2013, 04:49 PM
Nice work Barbora! I agree with Don about storage. Also you will ALWAYS lose your sketch lines! You just have to find them....make them again as you go on.
Jackie's examples of ellipses relative to where the eye level is is fantastic! So useful to many of us no doubt.

08-21-2013, 06:23 PM
Great work for first try. There are some great ways like Jackie mentioned to ensure vases, glasses etc are correct. One of the ways is to trace the side you like and then transfer to the other side. Also look in a mirror at your painting and you will immediately pick up errors. In one of my art books the author/artist draws a line down the middle of the object she is drawing. In the book I have it is a lighthouse. Then she draws horizontal lines in several areas of the side she likes. Then she transferred those measurements to the other side to make sure both sides are equal. Works great. Do not feel you have to trust your drawing skills. Nothing wrong with checking and correcting measurements. You clearly have the talent so keep going. Pam

08-21-2013, 06:27 PM
Sorry, should have answered your questions. Use charcoal sticks to do sketches. I attended weekly pastel classes and often frame once I get home, but if not, wrap in wax paper. Teacher recommends glassine paper but have yet to purchase. Pam

08-21-2013, 11:51 PM
Welcome to the pastel forum! Great advice from the others.... I use either a pastel pencil or charcoal sticks to sketch, and yes, sometimes you will have to restate your sketch. Often times I just stack my sketches on one top of the other, sandwiched and clipped between two pieces of foamcore. You can put a piece of tracing paper in between each sketch/painting if you like, but if you don't rub the paintings against each other they won't smudge. Tracing paper will definitely help though.

Excellent advice about ellipses, they are tricky. Nice work, keep painting!

08-23-2013, 11:40 AM
Thank you all for your advices. I think I am going to do some exercises with the ellipses.:)

08-23-2013, 08:32 PM
Good job on your first painting! You have nice clear colors. There are many things to observe while painting. form, composition, lighting. You can squint your eyes to see if your lighting is working. Is it all coming from the same direction? Are there multiple light sources? What's the brightest/what's the darkest? Also, making marks that help describe the form is also interesting and defines shapes. I loved the mini lesson on elipses and storage from other members! Thanks guys:) Keep up the good work!

08-24-2013, 11:18 PM
Good for you trying a still life. Yes we all loose our sketches and sometimes you just have to resketch brush off pastel and start over. Jackie's advice on ellipses is invaluable and something a lot of artists struggle with. Hope you keep posting and painting.