How to Paint Strawberries

Producing still life artwork with strawberries poses a great challenge for the artist, as painting fruit often entails using pure colours. But this is key to an Impressionist style still life, as this demonstration shows.


Painting Strawberries in Oil Colour


Painting fruit such as strawberries for the first time is often a satisfying experience for their mesmerising shapes and colours, and is likely to spur the artist to venture onto more challenging subject matter for painting. But a few pointers when oil painting fruit will help overcome common problems.
  • Consider setting the strong colours of the strawberries against a subdued background or objects to make them stand out
  • Select strawberries in various stages of ripening to offer variation to the colours within a still life painting
  • In order to get a truer measure of the strawberries’ tonal value, overlaying a neutral under paint will kill the off the putting white. Half closing the eyes when painting them will also help
  • The strawberries will look juicy if a dab of blue is introduced into the white highlights. This will also make the highlights look more authentic rather than just using mere dabs of white
  • Spend a little time over the still life setting, as an unbalanced composition could ruin an otherwise accomplished painting of strawberries.

Art Materials Required

  1. A still life setting containing strawberries, or if preferred, a photograph
  2. Ultramarine blue acrylic paint
  3. Oil paints in the colours: titanium, pthalo blue, ultramarine, pthalo blue, permanent rose, cadmium red, burnt sienna and burnt umber
  4. A 12” x 16” (30.5 x 40.5cm) oil painting surface
  5. A size 3 and size 6 round sable brushes
  6. A ½ inch wide bristle brush
  7. A palette consisting of a china plate or varnished wood.
  8. Small pot of artists’ white spirits
  9. Rags
  10. Pencil

(This site comprise of pictures and excerpts taken from my two art instruction books. Oil Paintings from Your Garden can be purchased direct from the author via this site, or through AmazonMy other book, Oil Paintings from the Landscape can be purchased direct from Amazon.)

Browse through my oil painting websites for


Advice for the oil painter

Oil painting medic

Demonstration on Painting Strawberries
To kill the white painting surface, a dilute wash of blue acrylic paint was applied. Once dry, the composition was sketched with a soft pencil. The white sheet behind the strawberries was completed first via various quantities of white, the thinner layers allowing the blue underpaint to show through. This will give an impression of tone.


Still Life Painting with Vase


The vase was completed next, with titanium and a little burnt sienna. The shaded areas contained a little ultramarine. Neat white was applied to the highlights. It is wise not to dwell on the background too much, but to paste in the essentials.


Oil Painting of Fruit


The strawberries were sketched in. This prevented the strong reds from contaminating the subtle whites of the background colours. A various mix of cadmium red, permanent rose and a little lemon yellow was used on a fine sable. Half closing the eyes will help the artist judge the tonal values of the strawberries without their bright colours from getting in the way. Definition was added by outlining the strawberries with burnt umber.


Oil Painting Technique in Painting Fruit


Viridian and white was used on the green tops of the strawberries. The highlights were applied last. This consisted of white and a tiny dab of ultramarine. Neat white was then applied on top. The background areas were then knitted together with a clean soft brush. Some tonal adjustment may be necessary to ensure they balance up.


YouTube Video

My Youtube clip speeded up showing how to paint a strawberry in oils.

Still Life Tutorial with Strawberries


The strawberry fruit is a great subject matter to include in a still life setting, for their bright colours add focal points to a painting. It is vital to spend some time over the still life setting first, as an unbalanced composition could ruin the painting. The artist should not be afraid to use bright colours and to bear in mind that strawberries also possess tonal value.

© Rachel Shirley 2010