“Red Onions”: Conte pastel 8×9 inches

Having given the Neocolors a run, I’m now back with the Conte pastel pencils, trying them again with water-washes on white PastelMat card. A group of red onions has caught my attention and I’m exploring the colour-schemes in them. With a relatively limited range of colour in Conte pastel pencils (and I have all of them), I had to just play with and overlay what was available, to try and get some of the elusive shades. The skins have an iridescent sheen to them and are tricky to analyse. I’ve also drawn these with softer pastels this week, and will post more on that next time.

There are shades of orange-ochre, purples, and a deep cherry-red (almost black) on these onions and they were not easy to capture precisely, so I aimed for what I could and make drawings of them, rubbing the pastel-dust lightly with a finger in places to spread. The watercolour work was done to place the onions on some sort of base….in reality this was a white window-cill with light coming from the side, but I didn’t want to labour the washes too much because PastelMat permits rapid spreading.

Having established a few shadows in pastel-pencil (the daylight was very muted) I used the watercolour for reflections on the shiny window-ledge; when dry, they were painted again in ultramarine blue. When dry again, the left-most shadow was skimmed lightly with a dark grey pastel-pencil and rubbed lightly to spread the colour.

As well as fruit, I would like to try more glass items with this method, since the combination of transparent watercolour and overlaid pastel seems to suit the materials. Eventually I hope to produce a few more substantial works with this method, but at present it seems well-suited to small-scale….and that’s probably where it will be best placed.

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