Live Painting Class | underpainting & tonal pear

by | May 19, 2020 | All Things Home, Art, Artistic Endeavors, Oil Painting, Tutorials | 7 comments

Friday ended up being a crazy busy day.  It was one of those days when I was just a little bit behind from the moment my feet hit the floor.  I finished a business call and checked the time…”Oh my goodness!  It’s 1:45 and my painting class is in 15 minutes!”  I rushed to get set up, refill my water bottle, and grab a quick snack since I had completely missed lunch.  I turned my computer on just in time to start the live class.  I pressed the “Go Live” button as usual and received an error that the camera was not compatible.  This is the same camera on the same computer I’ve been using each week!  Gah!  

After several failed attempts, I switched over to my phone.  So, the first few minutes on the Facebook Live recording are me getting the tripod set up, getting my palette, and putting on my apron.  We just had to roll with it.  What felt like an unprofessional disaster ended up being a happy accident.  Filming this way gave participants a much better view and I was able to save the video directly to my phone, meaning the video is nice and clear for the YouTube upload and timelapse version.  So, I found my new way to record live paintings classes in a very roundabout way.

So, this is what we painted in the class, focusing on a value underpainting first.

Live Painting Class | underpainting & tonal pear | miss mustard seed |

Underpaintings are a real gamechanger because they give you a chance to focus on getting the drawing and values right.  It’s also a different way of seeing and drawing that makes you a better artist.  It’s not about drawing lines but drawing light and shadow instead.

Once the underpainting was complete, we added some color.  Working on subtle shifts in hue, warmth, and saturation can develop your eye so much as well.

Live Painting Class | underpainting & tonal pear | miss mustard seed |

For those who would like to take the painting class, here are the video recordings…

This is the original Facebook Live with the comments (and all of the time in the beginning while I was getting situated and saying hello.  I was laughing as I was editing the video for YouTube.  You can hear me calling across the studio to the phone, “I’m just putting on my apron!

Here is the video on YouTube.  I edited out the beginning as I was getting set up.  The great thing is that this video is much higher quality, so if YouTube is your preferred way to watch, you’ll enjoy more clarity.

And here is a timelapse version for those who just want to see the overview process of the painting without all of my commentary!

I painted this pear almost two years ago when I was working through my “100 oil stills” series and I thought it would be interesting to compare that pear to the one I did a few days ago.  I figured they would be pretty similar.  Well, I was wrong!  The pear from two years ago is on the left and the recent one is on the right…

Live Painting Class | underpainting & tonal pear | miss mustard seed |

Wow, right?!  This is why it’s so important to at least keep pictures of your work, so you can see your progress.  It’s usually so slow that you don’t notice it until you pull out some of your old work and put them side-by-side.  It’s encouraging and motivating to just keep painting and learning.

As always, I like to share some works from the class participants…

The artist who sent this decided to stop at the value underpainting because she loved the sketchy quality of it and I agree with her.  Sometimes the underpainting is all that needs to be said about the subject of the painting…

Live Painting Class | underpainting & tonal pear | miss mustard seed |

And here are some pears that progressed with color…

This Friday, we’ll do one more still life.  A few people have requested that we do flowers and/or glass, so we’re combining the two.  I kept the flowers very simple with some cherry blossoms and the bottle has a basic shape and a soft green color.  It should be fun to paint, but not too complicated.  You can print off this picture to use as a reference or save it to a tablet or phone.


Here is the supply list if you’d like to join us!  Additions/changes are in bold, including two new colors I added last week.  I would encourage you to add them if you would like to be able to paint any reds – red apples, blueberries, strawberries, cherries, flowers, etc.  They are also helpful colors for portraits and animals.

  • 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. Jaime

    I am so thankful you are doing this. I just did your landscape a couple weeks ago and just did the pallet study. I am going to do the clouds next. It gave me a time to tune things out. I thought I would get to oil painting when I will be 80! When life gets busy again, I want to continue to paint.

  2. monique odman

    None are bad looking, and my favorite is that one kept in the under painted state in the grey.
    I had a pear but we ate it in our lunch salad, a yellow one.
    Bravo for the work and waiting for the next painting.

  3. Michele M.

    Amazing work. Wow.

  4. Julie

    Is there any way you can give us a heads up when you’re listing your artwork for sale? I always seem to miss them!

  5. Terry

    These classes are awesome. Any chance you could give a basic list for someone wanting to start with watercolors? What paints, brushes, supplies?

  6. Leoma

    I have just discovered your amazing blog. Iam getting ready to do the under painting and wondering if you add anything to your Gamsol? Leoma

    • Marian Parsons

      Nope, it’s just pure Gamsol.


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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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