Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Pears on Location

1/15/18 Bartletts in the sun
Compared to urban sketching, drawing still lives in my studio is easy. While capturing the hues and forms of produce has many of its own formidable challenges, the lighting comes from my flexible desk lamp, I point it exactly where I want the highlight to be, and if I’m interrupted, I can come back hours later to finish. As long as the fruit doesn’t go bad (the pear on the right is getting close), nothing will change. It’s sort of the opposite of sketching on location, where the light is constantly moving, changing in temperature and intensity, and other conditions are unpredictable and inconsistent.

An interesting thing happened yesterday morning with a couple of Bartlett pears. As usual, I had polished their skins to get a strong highlight, turned on my lamp, and started sketching. I was about halfway through, leisurely coloring them in, when the sun unexpectedly broke through clouds just as it was passing across a side window. One pear cast a strong shadow against the other, but the spotlight from my lamp still reflected on the rear pear’s shiny skin, causing an unusual circumstance of a highlight inside a shadow that was too good to miss.

Suddenly it was just like drawing on location: I had to immediately draw all the shadow shapes so that they would be consistent with the angle of the sun (I had to fudge one that I missed initially) and color the forms as quickly as possible to avoid missing interesting nuances in the pears’ lumps and bumps that I couldn’t even see before the sun appeared.

Who knew making a still life could be so exhilarating! 

But wait . . . sun passing across a window. . . ? That’s my cue . . .


  1. I enjoy your still life’s and admire the way you capture the shapes!

  2. Thanks, Cathy -- this one was especially exciting! ;-)

    - Tina

  3. Beautiful casting of shadows! You do true justice to color pencils. But I must say, drawing still life is time consuming.

    1. Colored pencil still lives can be time-consuming, but that's why I choose a very small composition, like one or two pieces of fruit. It doesn't take much longer than an average sketch on location.


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