This article relates to my first Radish study.
The journey of the radish study:

1. A pencil drawing of the outline is the first ‘layer’ applied to the canvas board.  During this stage, I think about the edges and the spaces around the objects, as well as the relationships and proportions.

Outline pencil drawing of the radishes

2. To jump right into the colour mood, I outline my areas of interest using coloured Conté pastel pencils. This gives me an early indication of how the colours may balance out in the finished work.

Coloured pastel pencil outline

3. Applying the blocks of raw colour is performed next. I think about contours and form when applying the colour, but I don’t worry about texture and detail at this stage. The purpose is simply to have the basic blocks of colour on the canvas board! From this point onwards, I applied colourless pastel fixative to preserve the layers of work.

First ‘block in’ of raw colour

4. In the next few layers of the ‘block in’ of colour I start to think about light and shadow. I use colour saturation to express this, not black or white pigments.

Second ‘block in’ of colour

Third layer of ‘block in’

5. Once the colour is completely ‘blocked in’, a series of colour layering and fixing takes place. This is pure experimentation and sensory judgement for texture and contours, whilst building up tones and taking care of edges. The build up of layers for this study were several!

1st layer

2nd layer

3rd layer

5th layer

6th layer

7th layer

6. At this point, all surface  areas are covered in pigment. Now, study of the surface detail requires  ‘seeing’ the colours and tones that really stand out; starting with darker tones of pastel colour and ending with lighter tones for all objects. Again, there is no use of black pigment – just blue, blue-voilet and violet are used instead.

8th layer (wet)

9th layer (wet), shown in daylight

10th layer (wet), shown in daylight

7. For finer textual detail,  the pigment is applied using very fine paint brushes (sizes 3/0, 4/0)  with droplets of water. The wet pigment dries very fast so the brush action must be rapid.

To enhance the red and red-violet, blending a few chosen blue pastels does the trick. The yellow-green in the leaves and radish stems helps to brings out some warmth in the radish reds.

Highlights are applied to the work towards the end too, by dipping the wet brush into the ends of the blue or red pastel before mixing into the end of the white pastel.  This provides an interesting coloured tonal highlight to the radishes.

The final touches of detail are applied using the Conté coloured pastel pencils and the white Faber-Castell PITT pencils. The background was further muted with the white pencil also.  A final fixative spray seals the pigments. Voilà!

Originally published: Sunday, May 1st, 2011 at 13:45 in Atelier, Inspiration

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