Painting Pastel Peaches

Summertime is such an exciting time for still life painting.  I’ve been looking forward to painting pastel peaches from life for months (and enjoying the models after!).

At this year’s Expressions Art Exhibition, I have 9 pieces on display.  All of the pieces were painted from life (either started en plein air or a studio still life).  One of my favorite paintings is this little peach, the foundation for a larger still life (below).

Peach Study
"Peach Study" 5x5, Pastel, © Nelia Harper
“Peach Study” 5×5, Pastel, © Nelia Harper – SOLD

Each year, Morton’s Organic Orchards sets up their fruit stand at the nearby farmer’s market.  They begin with cherries that are so deep and dark in color, flavor and sugar that I feel ‘drunk’ after just a few morsels.  Following on the heels of the cherries, the peaches arrive.  Clingstone peaches appear first – small and sweet.  Then, giant freestone peaches arrive by the truckload, covered in peach fuzz.  They line up, ready to be turned into pies and jams and in my case, ice cream and smoothies.

With my preference for representational realism, I wanted to create the feeling of the peach fuzz, the softness of the fruit and a feeling of warmth that comes with summer.  Although I first attempted the painting in oil, painting pastel peaches is the perfect combination of medium and subject.

Summer Sweetness
“Summer Sweetness”, 11×15, Pastel, “Peach Study” 5×5, Pastel, © Nelia Harper

After the study, I was ready for a larger version.  Luckily, I was able to borrow this hand-turned walnut bowl from fellow artist, Steve Germaine. (He is also showing at our Expressions Art Show).  After a quick trip to the Farmer’s Market, where the vendor kindly pulled out a few less ripe peaches, the fun began.

Again, I wanted to convey the roundness of the peach along with the weight.  These little orbs of sweetness are surprisingly solid.  I wanted the viewer to feel as though they could be picked up and held, as well as eaten.  Combined with a few clippings from the garden, the stage was set for painting.

I used a combination of Girault, Terry Ludwig and super soft Sennelier pastels on Pastelmat paper.  The larger piece measures 11×15 inches.  The painting is available for $450 plus shipping.  Please contact me if you are interested in adding this to your collection.

Details on our Expressions Art Exhibition can be found here.

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