Grade Level

9-10, 11-12


7 periods, 45 minutes in length


Oil pastels (I use Crayola), Varied color construction paper (I like fadeless) OR varied colors of pastel paper. Working larger on lager sizes help students work with looser and more active marks I feel.
Fruit (fake or real), spot light
*Chalk pastels can be used but I prefer oils because there is less shedding of material and mess


Oil pastels

Lesson Objectives

For the student to:
Apply an understanding of color, color theory, and a variety of color compositions to a series of drawings of fruit.
Demonstrate an understanding of form and how to describe form through mark making, as well as with shadows. highlights, and cast shadows.

Introductory Activity

We go over a basic color wheel in students sketchbooks. Students are then introduced to different color compositions including monochromatic, complimentary, and analogous.
We spend a couple of days practicing. Some times we work in pencil with the concept of form and value through “active” mark making. Sometimes we work on how to do that with oil pastels. I teach them to use a variety of hues (if you are working with blue use all the possible expressions of blue. If you are using green, use all the oil pastels that express greens and even blues and yellows that you mix. I teach them to avoid black for the most part and instead to use dark colors and compliments to darken a color (this is not everyone’s preference but I do use this impressionistic approach with my students because it challenges what they know, assume and what is instinctual). I also encourage students not to actively blend the oils through smudging (colors get muddy) but allow marks to overlap and build up. It’s fine to let the toned paper show through a little, one reason to use colored paper to start with.

Lesson Process

We have a variety of fruit of differing colors (red apples, green apples, oranges, peaches, green pears, yellow pairs, red pairs, etc). Students do not have to use the actual color of the fruit as a base but they can can if they want. Sometimes we talk about how we might feel looking at an orange if it wasn’t an orange!
Students are expected to do three drawings total, one monochromatic, one analogous, one complimentary. They have some loose interpretation on these color schemes. They can use 2-4 colors in an analogous color scheme (Red and orange OR red, orange, yellow for example. For complimentary students can also use sets of compliments. They can also use one color in the fruit and one in the background or mix them more. Regardless, we limit black and use the dark colors to create the shadow of the fruit.
* for some odd reason students will create a ground of say blue and the fruits cast shadow will suddenly jump to another color for the cast shadow. I don’t know why kids do this but they do. I review and demo that if the ground is blue, the cast shadow should be dark blues. Yes, it can have other colors involved to deepen and darken but essentially it should look like the same surface.


highlight, shadow, form, monochromatic, color, color wheel, analogous, complimentary


10 Oil Pastel Techniques – YouTube

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