Pastel Tutorial: #7

#7 Simple Harmony. A simple harmony consists of four hues: three analogous and one complement.  This pear has yellow-orange, yellow and yellow-green (it also has orange and red-orange, but we are choosing only three analogous for this, so nix the orange and red-orange). Blue-violet is the complement of yellow-orange. I see blue-violet in the background and shadows.


See the simple harmony on the color wheel: Blue-violet at the top, it’s complement, yellow-orange and then two hues to the left; yellow and yellow-green. You could go the other way  too; orange and red-orange, but I want to include yellow-green, so I go left instead of right…

I pick tints, tones, shades and spectral hues of each of the four.


Tone the paper with a cool or warm tint. I choose a tint of blue-violet because I want the space to recede behind the pear.  For a cozier feel, choose a warm tint to tone with.


Prepare your tools: Pastel pencils are delicate and may need to be hand-whittled and sand-paper sharpened. Nothing like a perfect point to begin with.  Wipe off your chalk sticks with a paper towel to remove other color contamination and keep your hues bright and clean. As you clean and whittle, thank the pastel craftspeople for making such fine pastels and thank yourself for the time and care you will give to your creation.


I begin with tones of each hue: blue-violet, yellow-orange, yellow and yellow-green. A tone is a grayed version of the spectral hue.


You don’t want to overpower the piece with saturated spectral hues. I put them in the earlier stages, so I can layer over them and let them peek through the final pear.


Place darks.


Use tints to blend, lighten and cool appropriate areas. Pay attention to where direct light hits the set up-place tints in these areas.


Here is the nearly completed image.


Spray the picture with final fixative, increasing spray for darks and contrast.

I then go back in with some saturated spectral hues and their tints to re-establish color and lights, spray again, go back in with darks and more highlights and spray yet again for a final fix. Fixing allows for corrections of value, hue and proportion. Very handy indeed plus this pastel is not going anywhere!



  • simple harmony
  • whittle
  • pastel pencils

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