Color Fundamentals/Pastel, 1.2

In week two, we are drawing a full page, closer investigation of using complementary colors – while rendering a form in space.


Generally, I advise my students to draw a form that is 2/3 in light, 1/3 in shadow. This example is the exact opposite, and was what was available to me during class time! It’s nice to stretch your comfort zone, so I enjoyed working on a lot of dark values.

The palette: tints, tones and shades of yellow-orange (the local color of the large gourd) and blue-violet (the complement, in addition to  a few grays + white). One pair of complementary colors. To begin, create a general contour line drawing of the whole shape and cast shadow (the dark area cast onto the table top surface).


We will then look at blocking in light, dark and middle value shapes of color, using appropriate values of each color, straight out of the pastel box. Use the side of the pastel, and build your shapes in a general way, not worrying too much yet about detail.



Mix the colors (above) initially by layering the marks directly on top of each other. The complements will mix together and create wonderfully subtle neutral values. I also like to blend with a brush, or kneaded eraser:



The trick is to keep the pastel fairly light in it’s amount: not too much in the beginning, otherwise it’s too difficult to take off.

Then, work your middle values using the tinted grey versions of either complement. The cooler color (blue-violets) will work for your shaded areas (on the gourd or cast shadow) and the warm yellow-oranges will designate the light areas.



I’m keeping the mark making fairly loose, as I like the expressiveness of it. At the end, I draw back into the form slightly, to bring out the whole shape better, being careful not to “outline”. Pay attention to the edges of your cast shadows, the transitions of your darks to lights, and the background, which is a cool light color. Notice the variety of mark making as well: some hatching, some larger shapes of color. The gourd is smooth, but has some subtle and interesting surface imperfections.

For homework, we are going to take a different complementary harmony, and create drawings on tinted paper. Will post those after next week!

Happy Drawing.

Below are some homework drawings my students brought in the following week:












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