Pastel Tutorial:#10

In this session our focus is light. Light affects value and intensity of hue dramatically. In low light, such as dusk, we see very little hue, less shadow subtlety and rely mostly on contrast to see. In mid light we see more hue and depth. In high light we see less contrast in general because of “burn-out” and less saturation of hue.

We begin with the middle; Mid light or Mid-Key. We’ll keep the values in the mid range and use only the mid tones and tints of our harmony.

This still life is flooded with light so that the shadows are not so dark. A lot of light is bouncing around and reflecting off of the objects. Choose objects with light intrinsic value: Light colored objects.


Choose a simple harmony.

For this I begin with the complements: blue-green and red-orange, adding orange and yellow orange.

Choose a tint and tone of each hue. Use the spectral hue sparingly and mix it with tints and tones.

Tone your paper with a cool or warm tone or tint.

Here see a tone of blue-green.


Begin with an extreme of the value range. This is as dark as I want to go.

A tone of red-orange:


Add a tone of yellow-orange: safe choice in a safe place; the background.


Add a touch of spectral orange: This is the most intense hue I’ll use. I put it in now just to get a feel for how it can affect the mood. I don’t want drama.


Add a tint of yellow-orange: I use this hue to consolidate the piece; for blending and to dull the background.


Add lighter tints of orange and yellow-orange:

DSC_0014 2

Add a bit of blue-green in shadow and colored areas (blue-green plus yellow makes the subtle green in the squash).

To finish up, I cool off some of the reflected highlights with a very high tint of blue-green to add some depth.


My goal here is to maintain a medium light condition, similar to what you find on an overcast day (although the shadow shapes and edges from the squash indicate direct light…).

The mood is tranquil, peaceful and relaxing, with a touch of cool detachment.  The orange accents and highlights liven things up.

You can push the mood to more extreme quietude with a cooler palette and more diffuse light, or warm it up-however you feel.


  • Mid-Key
  • High-Key
  • mid-tone
  • mid-range
  • Mood/temperature

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