In Search of the Perfect Pear

A simple fruit. Painted millions of times over thousands of years. Perhaps it seems ordinary then to choose pears for my recent workshop to illustrate ways to improve layouts and add different types of lettering to sketchbooks. But once the workshop ended, the fruit’s lovely form and subtle colors continued to captivate me. So, I had to have one more go at it in my sketchbook. I’m sure it won’t be the last.


Tips & Techniques– During the workshop, we created a variety of thumbnail sketches of pears to play with different layouts. This is an excellent exercise for considering possible layouts, as well as for thinking through color combinations and values before committing to a painting. Pick a simple subject and see if you can create four to six different ways to approach it. This practice will expand your thinking and may lead you to fresh ideas or new techniques for working in your sketchbook and beyond.

22 Comments on “In Search of the Perfect Pear

  1. I love pears! They’re my favorite winter fruit! And you featured them beautifully. I’ve sketched them often. I’ve never used these ideas and to be sure I will in my future sketches. Thank you for the tips.

  2. It was a wonderful workshop Jean! You inspired me to not only try different page layouts in my journal but also to work on my lettering. Thank you for helping to kick my
    love of journaling into high gear. It was sorely needed.

  3. Thanks for the workshop Jean. I found it very helpful! Would love it if you could sometime give some tips for watercolor in a Zeta. Your Bosc pears are just gorgeous!

    • Thanks Dory- so glad you could join in! Zeta paper is very tricky and a workshop on it would be best in person. I had hoped to replicate the loose watercolor effect of the lower left thumbnail, but the Zeta paper would have none of it. After the initial wash, I did many wet transparent layers to build up the color. At some point, the paint layers begin to glow. The paint doesn’t soak into the paper the way other WC papers do. So you have to play around with the paint on top of the paper. Fewer strokes tend to work best. The other way to work on it is to keep the paint very dry. I do that in small spaces (like the stems and letter T). If you like big wet multicolored washes where the colors mix and blend on and in the paper, Zeta is not a good choice. Hope that helps!

  4. I appreciate these helpful suggestions. They will work well in sketchbook as well as in studies for paintings. Layouts are vital to a paintings success…or failure! I will use these guidelines for further work. Thank you!

  5. Thank you for an excellent workshop Jean! And for posting this. I save a lot of your posts and tips and find they are so very helpful. I know we asked about a book…..I think you could do a full book just using your posts with the tips you add to each post. I’d be a buyer in a heartbeat!

    • Thanks for joining the workshop Diana. I’m glad you enjoyed it and that the tips are helpful! I had fun continuing with the pears after the workshop and working on the inside view.

  6. thank you so much for this – and all the wonderful others you present but today’s just helped for the moment even more – Emerson’s quote says it all

  7. I can’t wait to watch the replay! We’re on the coast, with no Wi-Fi except a personal hotspot connection through my phone. Live video keeps pixelating and recordings keep buffering, so I’ll have to wait until the end of the week when we get home to see what I missed! Something to look forward to. I’m sorry I didn’t get to” see” you on Friday though. Looks like it was another great workshop!

  8. The pear’s shape is so perfect for composition…I like the slightly off-center symmetry of the two at the top and I love that last one, with the pear-colored negative space.

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