Project 4 Exercise 2 Still life in tone using colour

The aim

Use coloured pencils or soft pastels create a still life using line, tone and colour.

The process

I chose soft pastels because I love working with them. I used an A3 piece of off-white paper with a fair amount of tooth. My still life was of some sweet peas and a little ceramic vase. They were placed on a table with quite a reflective surface, against a pale wall. I left some flowers on the table and place the others in the vase. I love the negative shapes between the stems of the flowers and the bright colours of the blooms. They smelt fabulous too! I started sketching in the dark tones, mainly the table, outlining the vase, using broad strokes of the side of a pastel. I also put in the centers of the flowers. Sweet peas, whilst vivid in colour, are quite translucent in nature and so there weren’t many really dark areas on the flower heads. I exaggerated the tones where they were present. The reflections of the flowers on the table were fascinating, reflecting lovely deep tones of purple, red and pink. The mid-tones formed the main body of petals which ones blocked in formed the basis of areas of the highlights. With smaller strokes i was able to blend the three tones on the flower heads together to create more subtle variations. The white vase was the hardest to depict. The shape was hard, with its smooth shoulders. It didn’t help that the table line was lower than the shoulders of the vase, making it a difficult to shape to rectify once down on paper! I tried to use lines to give a sense of the smooth curved nature of the pottery. There was a faint suggestion of a shadow behind the vase and off the flowers on the wall. The main shadow was cast in front of the arrangement with the colour of the reflected light dominating, however the shadow behind lent itself to be represented by a feint swirl of pastel on its side.

Still life with sweet peas in pastel
Still life with sweet peas in pastel


The best part I feel of this drawing are the flowers on the table. They show line, tone and colour and strike a believable pose. I think that the flowers against the dark background have made them easier to depict. The flowers in the vase somehow don’t quite feel quite as realistic. I also really like the shadows cast by the stalks of the two prone flower stems. These shadows were extremely satisfying to put it, although they did have to go in last to retain the their freshness.

I like the way that the tooth shows through in many places in this drawing. I think that maybe a reason why the flowers in the vase don’t’ quite work. They don’t have this tooth showing through and consequently look a little overworked because of it.

Project 4 Exercise 2 Still life in tone using colour

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