Oil Pastels: Tomato (demonstration)

Time for another art demonstration! Today it’s a drawing of a tomato based on a photo in WetCanvas’s Reference Image Library uploaded by olika. I did this drawing while reviewing the Sennelier oil pastels and since I took progress photos, I figured I might as well make a demo post out of it. As always, you can find the equivalent colours in whatever oil pastels you use, and you can pretty much use any brushes you want. There are also a variety of shaper tools available in different brands; many discount variety shops have packets tools with different points available at low prices, so there’s no need to spend big dollars on the branded Colour Shapers. Though I used Sennelier oil pastels and Zest-It to do this project, you could also use watersoluble oil pastels if you want to avoid any solvents.

Oil Pastels
Sennelier Oil Pastels:
-001 White
-042 Cinnabar Green Yellow
-045 Green Medium
-019 Lemon Yellow
-026 Yellow Ochre
-200 Mandarine
-220 Permanent Intense Red
-034 Burnt Umber
-023 Black

Watersoluble Pencils
Prismacolor Premier Watercolor Pencils:
-Spanish Orange
-Cool Grey 50%

Brushes and Tools
Renoir synthetic flat (size 12)
Georgian Daler-Rowney sable round (size 2)
ProArte Colour Applicator 4 (tapered point)

Zest-It Citrus-Based Solvent

Stonehenge Drawing Paper (5X7 inches) (you may prefer to use a sanded surface like PastelMat or Colourfix)

Step 1
The first step is to draw the outlines in watercolour pencils. The outline of the tomato should be drawn in yellow (I used Spanish Orange), and its shadow and the background shadow should be drawn in grey (Cool Grey 50%). This step is technically optional; if you wanted, you could just lightly sketch the outline in the oil pastels to start with, but I chose to use pencil for more control.

Step 2
Colour in the background behind the tomato with Burnt Umber, adding a little White in the area where the background meets the surface. Lightly scribble Yellow Ochre on the surface and go over this with white, then colour in the tomato’s shadow with Burnt Umber, adding a little Mandarine where the shadow touches the tomato. For the tomato itself, colour the light areas with Lemon Yellow (leaving a spot for the highlight) and the shadow areas with Green Medium. Colour the leafy bit around the tomato stem with Burnt Umber and draw the stem itself with Yellow Ochre and Cinnabar Green Yellow, adding a little White along the left of the stem for a highlight.

Step 3
It’s time to get out the solvent. Using your flat brush, wash over the background, the surface, and the different coloured sections on the tomato, washing your brush in between each section to avoid contaminating the colours. For the stem and dark leafy area, use the size 2 round. Wait for this to dry.

Step 4
Using horizontal strokes, add a layer of Green Medium and then Permanent Intense Red, bringing these into the transition zone with a lighter pressure. Add another light layer of Yellow Ochre on the surface and then go over this with white, bringing the white up into the area between the background and the surface to smooth out the transition. Go over the shadow with Green Medium and Permanent Intense Red, again adding a little Mandarine where the shadow touches the tomato. Go over the green shadow areas on the tomato with Permanent Intense Red, then go over the lighter yellow areas with Mandarine, again leaving the white highlight intact. Add a tiny amount of Burnt Umber along the right of the stem, then go over the whole stem again with a light layer of Green Medium, replacing the highlight along the left and at the top of the stem with White if needed. When working on the stem, you may want to use the colour shaper tool as it can be difficult to blend small, detailed areas with your fingers without smudging outside the lines.

Step 5
Add another layer of Burnt Umber over the background and the tomato’s shadow, glazing more White over the transition between the background and the surface. Add a layer of Mandarine over the whole right side of the tomato and around the highlight on the left. Add a little Lemon Yellow above and to the right of the highlight, and to the light areas near the stem. Lightly apply some White over the bottom left corner of the tomato to show the reflected light, and add a little more on the left in the area between the two shadowed sections. Scribble a few light lines of Green Medium in the upper shadow section on the tomato, following the curve of the fruit with your strokes, and add a line of it along the bottom right of the tomato. Using your finger, blend these layers so they are smooth (to get to the edges of the tomato without smudging over the lines, you might want to use your colour shaper tool.

Step 6
Using heavy pressure, apply a layer of Black over the background and another pale layer of Yellow Ochre on the surface, Go over the Yellow Ochre with White, blending this up into the background shadow. Blend the background using small circular strokes with your finger (using the colour shaper tool to get in close around the edges of the tomato). Using slightly less pressure, put a layer of Black over the tomato’s shadow on the ground, again adding a little Mandarine where it touches the tomato. Add a layer of Permanent Intense Red over the shadowed areas of the tomato, then go over all of it (aside from the highlight) with Mandarine. Blend this with your finger. Add a little White on the right of the tomato (between the dark sections) and on the lower left and blend this in. Squish the White pastel into the highlight to leave a solid chunk of white, and blend this outwards to diffuse it a bit. Lightly add a little more Lemon Yellow around the highlight and to the light area behind the stem, and blend this into the red. Draw the leafy bits around the stem in a little more detail using Black, then add a bit of Cinnabar Green Yellow over the top of it. Add a speck of white to the highlighted bit of leafage on the left and blend this in. On a separate bit of scrap paper, scribble three swatches of colour: Burnt Umber, Cinnabar Green Yellow and White. Using the colour shaper to pick up some Burnt Umber and apply it along the right of the stem, then apply some Cinnabar Green Yellow over the whole stem. Finally, apply White along the left of the stem and on the top right where the stem was broken off. Now all that’s left is to sign your name. Scribble a swatch of Burnt Umber and White and then add a bit of solvent to the swatch. Using the tip of your colour shaper to pick up this diluted oil pastel colour, put your initials in the bottom left corner.

I hope you’ve enjoyed drawing your tomato in oil pastels – their lovely blendability makes them perfect for achieving that smooth, shiny texture of the tomato’s skin. Until next time, happy drawing and painting!

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