Cherry BABY

with Trevor Osborne

Some days Trevor Osborne needs colour to fill his soul and his pastels beckon


SAA Pastels:

  • Alizarin Crimson 5 and 8
  • Blue Green 8
  • Burnt Sienna
  • Carmine
  • Deep Rose
  • English Red Tint


  • Sennelier Le Carte Soft Pastel Paper – Peach

Derwent Pastel Pencils:

  • Set of 36

Sennelier Soft Pastel:

  • 1/2 stick 20 assortment set
Tip 1: A light spray of fixative over your initial drawing will hold it in place while you work.

Tip 2: Pastel pencils are hard. Working from hard to softer in your pastel painting will allow the under-painting to shine through.

Tip 3: Establish your tones (lights and darks) and basic colours early on remembering that any tone or colour is relative to the tone and colour it sits against.

Tip 4: You can play with the colours but not tone. Colour is the fun part, tone is the business end!

Tip 5: A sheet of glassine paper is good to protect painted areas you may otherwise smudge while working.

Tip 6: Many manufacturers produce a sharpener for their product. The angle of the blade, the size of the aperture and the length of the point it creates is the best for that hardness of pencil. I find they have a limited life and need replacing frequently.

Tip 7: Look at the ballet paintings by Degas - splashes of red, blue and bright green are skilfully placed to enhance and draw the work together. Try taking your brightest colour and put small dots around your work to pour light into your painting.

This is an unashamed dance in areas of my pastel set that are more salsa than waltz. The fruit has every shade of red and presents a challenge for finding a really dark and intense red. The stalks can be Dark Umber with flashes of Lemon Yellow and Bright Orange and sometimes touches of Vivid Green. The shadows are full of Magenta, Violet and Indigo and become a playground for rendering what is there and letting the imagination fly

1 The photograph was taken with sun through the window and the fruit just thrown then slightly rearranged. They reminded me of Degas’ ballerinas, with the prima ballerina on the left flexing while the chorus line chatter. From this I chose one of these ‘conversations’. Looking for a square picture I chose a selection of similar but different shapes, a full cherry tilted, a half cherry, upright and a sliver of cherry with shapes reflected in the shadows.

2 I drew the image on Sennelier Le Carte Soft
Pastel Paper. It has tooth to take several layers of pastel and build a depth of colour, but it's made of fine cork granules so is not as abrasive as sand paper. To simplify and make more of the shadow I took out the cherry on the left but, to make sense of the light and reflection in the main cherry, I left in the cherry on the right.

3 I then under painted with pastel pencil to establish tones and define edges, painting the highlights on the fruit and the darkest areas of shadow to establish the tonal range for the work, then the background, which grades from the dark violet pink at the top to an off white pink then to white.

4 In forming the shadow areas I introduced more colour (purple, greens and Cobalt Blue), but preserving the tone of the area. The ‘cup’ where the stalk attaches to the cherry is a good example of respecting tone and playing with colour. The stalk is the darkest tone - dark brown in shadow and has a matte surface. The cherry surface is glossy and the outer edge reflects the table, the darker area below is the reflection of the fruit’s shadow. Inside the ‘cup’ is a series of mid tones from darker on the right to lighter on the left. The bright yellow of the stalk cuts through with a touch of drama. After working with the pencil I then worked over this with a full pigment pastel, as near to the edge as I dared before working the pastel to the edge using a freshly sharpened pastel pencil. This stage still lacked depth of colour and was ready for me to enjoy the full pigment of soft pastels.

5 Using very soft pastels I dropped in the brightest reds plus colour that would complement and contrast. Playing like this is fun – forget all the rules! At this stage I modified some of the brightest marks made by the pencils by lightly brushing over them with soft pastel so they don't dominate but still enhance. I am not fond of blending – it mixes colour on the paper and takes away the power of the pigment. Colours placed beside each other will create the same colour as a blended area but with greater intensity. To get an intense red I find that black added to the brightest red works. Black can be powerful as a contrast to strong colour, making it even brighter.

6 I could have finished at the last stage but
decided to play a bit, adding colours that
weren’t there, to add light and excitement - I
wanted to break away from the photo and make it more! The work was then pinned to the wall of my studio for at least two weeks, simmering with an occasional stir!