I have another still life completed.

It’s been my intention for some years to paint a series of still lifes of traditional subject matter — and I suppose a wooden bowl with winter squash is about as traditional as one can get.

Still Life - Squash

“Squash in Wooden Bowl”
11″ x 15″ pastel on sanded paper

I’d prepared the underpainting for this one back in October. Fortunately the squash held up, more or less unchanged, by the time I got around to making the final painting. Oddly enough, it was the antique wooden bowl that had changed over that time. When I first set up the scene I observed that the bowl wasn’t particularly round. But over the last couple of months it got even more misshapen, presumably due to the dry air in the studio. I had some concern that it would look like I painted the edge of the bowl incorrectly, so I ended up painting it as if it were more round than it actually is.

Still Life - Squash in Wooden Bowl

“Squash in Wooden Bowl” (detail)
11″ x 15″ pastel on sanded paper

To make the support, I glued a sheet of Wallis Belgian Mist sanded pastel paper to a piece of illustration board. I sketched the preliminary drawing with a white charcoal pencil, then proceeded to make a monochromatic underpainting with Derwent Inktense pencils, drawn and blended with a wet paintbrush. I’ve found the Inktense pencils work well for underpaintings because once the pencil marks are brushed over with water, they behave like ink and become permanent once dry. This results in an underpainting that doesn’t affect the tooth of the paper, meaning I can apply many layers of pastel without the surface becoming too loaded.

For the pastel painting, I used a wide range of Rembrandt, Unison, Sennelier and Mount Vision soft pastels. I blended the pastels with rubber tipped tools directly on the surface. For some of the more detailed passages, I used small paintbrushes to apply powdered pastels mixed with water.

Squash in Wooden Bowl - Underpainting

Underpainting – Inktense pencils brushed with water

More to follow!


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