Perfume Bottles



90 min

What you need:

Oil pastels
Nathan Rohlander stumbled upon this beautiful still life in a perfume oil shop in Cairo, Egypt. Transparent objects, like these bottles, can be tricky to draw, but this lesson will make the process easier. You will learn how you can create a more striking piece by enhancing the colors.

Step 1

It was essential, while creating the construction drawing, to have a center line on the bottles. This process ensures that both sides will be equal. When drawing the ellipses, make a cross in the center, using a line perpendicular to the center line, thus creating a major and minor axis for the ellipse. This enables you to judge the correct arch for each bottle. Then use variation in line weight as you slowly and accurately construct your drawing. At this point, seal the drawing with workable fixative.

Step 2 & 3

May be you prefer to create a common ground by toning my gessoed paper. For this, use a transparent mixture of matte medium and burnt sienna acrylic paint. Using the matte medium both strengthens the piece and protects  the drawing, so you can  scrape away sections of the oil pastel as needed, without  damaging the original piece. A couple thin layers works best. This mixture dries fast and you are able to begin working with oil pastels soon afterward.

First, add a thin layer of gray for the glass counter. Then layer white on top of that and blend them together with your finger. With Vandyke brown, begin defining the background shapes.

Step 4 & 5

Continue using the Vandyke brown to define darks throughout. Then, put a layer of olive green across the entire background. Also add yellow ocher to certain areas and increase the saturation of Vandyke brown.

Using your finger, smudge and blend everything. Then draw back into it using Vandyke Brown.

Step 6 & 7

Add a thin layer of yellow ocher on the glass counter top and blend. At this point, add white for the highlights.

For this step, introduce orange, light yellow and light magenta to the bottles, and follow this by smudging the colors. Continue using Vandyke brown for the darks of the bottles. Next, add gray in the glass bottles. Selected areas are accented with pale blue, and use brown to darken the orange in areas. Work with all the previously introduced colors to block in shapes.

Step 8

Now smudged everything and blended with your fingers. Use yellow ocher to help push the glass into the environment and cover-up unwanted pencil lines. Create darks with Vandyke brown, and then introduce dark blue for the darkest darks. Finally, use white to create highlights. Push the white so hard that it crumbles and leave a chunk on the paper. Also use light layers of white to make the bottles look transparent. Using yellow ocher, make the background bottles recede and covered up any left-over graphite that might show through. Blending the background bottles helps them appear out-of-focus. Also smudge the background shapes and lightly cover them with yellow ocher. At this point, use all the colors, touched up and rendered detail in the bottles, seeking a final atmospheric look.

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Excerpt from "Pastel Basics", published by Walter Foster Publishing, a division of Quarto Publishing Group USA Inc. All rights reserved. Walter Foster is a registered trademark. Artwork © Alain Picard. Visit