Still Life

“Still Life”
A drawing in oil pastels and coloured pencils.
360 x 385 mm. February 2018.

“Still Life” is an arrangement of shapes, colours and textures observed while eating breakfast on Wednesday 19 October 2016 at a Beaubourg café.  I look up from my chocolat chaud and there it is…an abstract collage of ordinary life…patiently awaiting my attention.

In this urban scene on the intersection of rue Quincampoix and rue Aubry le Boucher banality and elegance dance a stationary duet.   My imagination is captured, causing the art area of my brain to flash with excitement.  We have contact!


Technical note 1:  “Still Life” is drawn with an undercoat of oil pastels and a top coat of coloured pencils.  Caran d’Ache Neopastels are used for undercoat on the left part of the drawing which is depicting distance (the buildings).  For the in-your-face wall on the right and ‘sens interdit‘ (no entry) sign I have utilized the bold Sennelier oil pastel.  The different qualities of these two pastel brands work together to help create both subtle distance and strong close up texture.

Technical note 2:  On complementary colours:  How did I get the reds in the drawing to stand out?  By surrounding them with green.  While you don’t look at the drawing and say to yourself, “There is obviously green around those reds”, yet it is present; plenty of it, worked subtly into the chromatic colours.

To see the original post on working with oil pastels in combination with coloured pencils, see Brush and Pencil

source photo for “Still Life”



14 thoughts on “Still Life

  1. Kathleen Campisano

    Ahhh ,now that you brought it to my attention, I see the green! How wonderful! This drawing is a delight! It has so much energy and vibrancy !

    1. juliepodstolski Post author

      I’m glad you see it. There is green actually IN the red ‘sens interdit’ sign too, because I wanted a certain sort of red – not a bright bright red but one that is itself in shadow.

  2. anna warren portfolio

    Such wonderful contrasts – in colour, form and tone. Your eye goes immediately to the bold red sign, then takes off, exploring all the surrounds. This is not a flat drawing, it goes deep into the distance. A lot of your mastery comes from your deep technical understanding of colour, and of your materials, something that takes years of education then practice to achieve. On the subject matter, you recently said to me that I find objects to draw that most people pass by, but I find beauty in them, and this is just the same! Most people wouldn’t think twice about this view, but you have found the beauty in it.

    1. juliepodstolski Post author

      I love your comments, Anna. (Had to read them twice!!) Well, there are different types of ‘ordinary’, I notice some and you notice others. But yes, probably none of us notice quite enough of them…because they enrich our lives, don’t they?! This one is a result of my daily mantra to myself when I am out on photography walks, “Be open to everything”.
      I’ve always loved signs though. In fact I could quite easily do a post one day (I might) on the history of Podstolski sign paintings and drawings. They go back to oils in the 80s.
      Thanks what you say about my understanding of colour – some of the tricks are what I’m trying to pass on to people now and then.
      The ‘beauty’ in this is a kind of punk beauty to me, like ‘Sex Pistols’ or ‘The Clash’.

  3. kathansen9

    Hi Julie!! I am always inspired by your blog posts and artwork!! I was wondering what support you use when you combine your pastels and colored pencils together. Thank you SO SO much!!! Kathryn

    1. juliepodstolski Post author

      Hi Kath, I am rather non-experimental. So once I find my support I stick to it. For 14 years I used a printmaking paper with my pencils until the Italian paper company went bust. Then I was forced to experiment for a while as I thrashed around looking for something else. For the last three years I have exclusively used Arches Aquarelle hot-pressed (smooth) watercolour paper. If you’d like to take a look at my art materials page it shows all my art materials including the cover of the block of Arches so that you can recognise it when you see it in the shop. Thanks for the question – and keep asking.


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