Live Painting Class | Still Life Pear

by | May 12, 2020 | All Things Home, Art, Artistic Endeavors, Oil Painting, Tutorials | 11 comments

Friday, we did another live painting class!  In that session, we focused on still life painting and painted a Barlett pear with some leaves.  When I first started painting, I wasn’t interested in the still life genre at all, but after painting 100 landscapes off of pictures, I saw some of the issues of not painting from life.  Since still life is the easiest thing to set up and have readily on hand as a “model”, I decided to paint 100 still lifes.  I saw myself grow so much as an artist during that time.  It was overwhelming at first, trying to paint from a three-dimensional perspective instead of a flat image, but my eye was better trained through the process and I’ve grown to really enjoy painting still lifes.

We started the class with an exercise – a 10-minute pear.  I could almost feel the panic when I said we were going to do a painting in ten minutes!  I must admit that I was a little nervous myself!  Could I pull it off with an audience and while trying to teach and explain what I was doing?  But, it was worth doing.  Doing a quick ten-minute study helps you work more intuitively and doesn’t allow you time to second-guess yourself too much.  Often times, I like the 10-minute versions of my pears or apples more than the versions that aren’t timed.  It’s also a great way to get a little painting in on a busy day.  If you can crank one out in 10 minutes, there is just no excuse to not paint.

Here is my 10-minute pear…  I did end up spending about 5 more minutes on it after the class to give the leaves a stem and fix a couple of things, but otherwise, I left it alone.

Still Life Pear | Miss Mustard Seed |

And here is my full-length pear.  This one probably took about an hour including chit-chat.

Still Life Pear | Miss Mustard Seed |

If you weren’t able to watch the class live, here are the videos…

Facebook version…

You Tube…

The quick, 4-minute time-lapse version of both paintings…

My mom watches the classes (just to hang out with me virtually) and she said her favorite part is seeing paintings from the participants.  That’s my favorite part as well!  I am impressed every week with how people are trying something new…whether it’s a new medium or painting for the first time ever.  And I love that they are willing to share their work!  That’s been such a gift to me and I think to others who are participating or even just watching this live painting class experiment unfold.

Here are a few paintings that were sent along to me…

Still Life Pear | Miss Mustard Seed |

Still Life Pear | Miss Mustard Seed |

Still Life Pear | Miss Mustard Seed |

Still Life Pear | Miss Mustard Seed |

Still Life Pear | Miss Mustard Seed |

Still Life Pear | Miss Mustard Seed |

Still Life Pear | Miss Mustard Seed |

Still Life Pear | Miss Mustard Seed |

So many good ones, right?!  And I love how people embraced the 10-minute pear and let it be sketchy and unfinished.  I think they all look amazing.

As a gift for my “students” (or anyone else who is interested), here are a few pictures to use as still life inspiration for practicing.  It really is best to set up your own still life vignettes if you can, but pictures can be useful for inspiration as well.

And, we’re going to stick with still life painting next week, but I’m going to focus the instruction on creating an underpainting.  While I don’t usually take the time to do that in detail with fruit, it is a helpful skill to hone when you get into animals, portraits, and figures.  We’ll start with a simple pear again, so we can work our way to doing a cow and a portrait.

This is the pear we’ll paint and I would suggest printing it up or saving it to pull up on a phone or tablet…

Still Life Pear | Miss Mustard Seed |

If we have time, we’ll also paint this pear, focusing on light, shadows, and edges…

Still Life Pear | Miss Mustard Seed |


Here is the supply list if you’d like to join us!  Additions/changes are in bold.  I added a couple of new colors to the list that are helpful for animals, portraits, flowers, and still life (red apples, blueberries, strawberries, etc.)

  • Oil Paints – Buy the best you can.  This is where you want to spend your money, because artist-grade paints have more concentrated pigments, so you can mix the colors without making mud.  I like Windsor & Newton and Gamblin.  (See below for some alternatives.)
  • I am going to add two new colors for those who want to progress to painting animals and portraits…
  • Gamsol (This is to thin the paint and clean brushes.  You can also use turpentine, paint thinner, etc.) – Gamsol 14 oz bottle
  • Container for Gamsol/solvent (You can also use a glass jar with a screw-on lid) – Leak-Proof Solvent Container
  • 5 x 7 or 6 x 8 canvas or canvas board.  If you are painting on something else, that’s okay, too!  
  • Palette – I use a wood palette, but you can order a glass one (white or gray), a paper palette (again, white or gray), or use a paper plate, a piece of cardboard, or even a piece of glass in a cheap/old frame.
  • Paper towels
  • Ziplock bag
  • Soap to clean brushes & hands – I use Murphy’s Oil soap to clean my brushes and baby oil to clean my hands.  You can also use an olive-oil-based soap or any soap that will clean off oil and grease.
  • Easel – You don’t have to buy an easel, but could purchase an inexpensive tabletop easel.  If you want to get a little fancier, you can buy a pochade box that has an easel and palette built-in.  Really, though, you can paint flat or just prop your canvas up on some books or a cardboard box.  Don’t let the lack of an easel stop you from joining us!
  • Brushes – The bushy brush I’ve been using is actually not an Eclipse, but a Master’s Choice Long Filbert No. 4.  You can get it HERE, too.  The stiff-bristled brush I use is the No. 1 Ivory Long Flat (you can get it HERE, too) both from Rosemary & Co.  Both of these shops (one in the US and one in the UK) are shipping to customers.

If the paints are sold out or back-ordered, try BlickJerry’s Artarama, or Utrecht.

Here are links to all of the other live painting classes…

Cow Grazing

Still life with glass & flowers

Under Painting & Still Life Pear

Still Life Pear

Mini Landscapes

Index Card Art | Seago Study

mixing color charts & books for beginners

painting clouds in oils for beginners

landscape oil painting for beginners



  1. Deborah SAARANEN

    Wow…! So impressed with the student work that you posted! You are a great instructor– can’t wait for my supplies to arrive so that I can join in. Thanks so much for taking the time to lead us into oil painting!

  2. Julie

    Amazing work! Wish I knew something about painting-I would jump in. Sadly, know nothing, and have none of these supplies…

  3. Diane Lanford

    I loved the class. More supplies came today. I am excited about the under painting lesson

  4. Suzanne

    Love seeing the paintings from everyone and I’m kind of amazed at how good the 10 min ones are! Looking forward to Friday’s lesson.

  5. Jean Kirchner

    Marian, this has been SUCH a joy! I never thought I could “paint” as I have always worked as a illustrator – concentrating on precision and exact representation and generally failing robustly. But you have opened my eyes to interpretation – and feeling a subject. To paint now seems to include interpretation in addition to providing a representation of a subject. And CLOUDS! What a wonder are clouds! Know that you are touching so many hearts and minds – and eyes- with this Friday gift!

  6. Janet Tluchak

    I love your blog and have for 10 years now. When I receive the emails concerning mentoring and click I love the blog but not interested in receiving info on the mentoring program, it still brings me into the I am interested portion of the email. This has happened each time I receive one. Has this happened to anyone else? No big problem, but does not seem to be working properly. I thought you would want to know.

  7. Joan

    Hi Marian! Thank you so much for the still life photos! ….ty also for including my 10 min. pear ! 🙂 I completed a 3rd pear and this time concentrated BETTER on brush cleaning! and colour mixing! and on a CLEAN ORGANIZED PALETTE! so I actually ended up with a blue background this time, instead of just giving up and making it all black ! LOL…
    an important lesson every time, things you’ve shown us that make such a difference. so THANK you, I’m always learning something EVERY TIME! andddd again, who knew the importance colour charts could play a role in oil painting,….I have some awesome colours that I want to see what they do…especially in cherries for example, or flowers….would just be guessing otherwise how to achieve what I want, …. so glad to know ahead of starting a painting what mixes and colours will do! learning colour mixing has been great with you among so much else!…ty so much for all…really looking so forward to Friday’s/ this weeks painting with you again…!

  8. Gloria

    I have a funny story to tell you about my pear painting, which by the way I loved. I am 76 years old and have a friend who is 8. She brought me a Mother’s Day cupcake and asked if I had painted anything. I proudly told her “Yes I painted a pear. Come see it.” We went to my easel and she says, “It looks like a bird to me.” Haha so much for my work of art! She did say “We should get together and paint sometime.”

  9. Sharon McKendry

    Hi Marian. Yes for portraits and animals!!! I would love a video on those as well!!!!!!!! Thank you for doing your videos!!

  10. Alice

    Where is the origial still life from which these pears were painted?

    • Marian Parsons

      It is a photo I took. You can find it in the previous live painting post.



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Marian Parsons - Miss Mustard Seed

I’m Marian, aka Miss Mustard Seed, a wife, mother, paint enthusiast, lover of all things home and an entrepreneur, author, artist, designer, freelance writer & photographer.  READ MORE to learn more about me, my blog and my business…


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