I don’t usually recommend eating your subject matter for a still life. But this case required an exception! I wanted to paint a realistic candy – and “had” to take one for the team and buy the BIG box and bite one to photograph myself!

Once I bit it (okay I had to do it a few times to different candies….getting it to look good wasn’t easy! Pinky swear!) I placed it on the puffy insert in the heart-shaped box to take a photo on my iphone. I set up lights so the open caramel part would show up best, then in Photoshop I added the dark background. Coz I’m no photographer and wouldn’t know how to do that! Feel free to use my picture for your reference to draw or paint from!

(Side note: How on rearth do candy manufacturers put so many strawberry and vanilla cremes and toffees in their boxes of chocolates? More caramel please!)

Tutorial: Painting chocolates!

Watch the video below and scroll to the end to leave comments or questions — or click HERE to watch it on YouTube and leave comments over there. I read both dutifully!


I’ve been taking oil painting lessons in gouache (very similar techniques) – and trying to turn my brain upside down to paint dark to light. It doesn’t always happen that way! BUT the thing that is the same in both is that SHAPE and VALUE matter a lot to create realism and depth. 


I came back to my sweet spot where I know how I want to plan a painting. It’s much more natural for me! I know how life goes when starting light and going dark, and can “see” the process in my head without nearly the effort that gouache takes. But again – shape and value are crucial.

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Each painting has its own problems and areas of excellence! With my limited experience, I’m just figuring out how to handle a background, especially a blended one. (I’m debating whether I should start painting really loose and impressionistic so I can skip worrying about blending, HA!) But a rich black background is easy to achieve in the matte medium. The watercolor background in the light area looks excellent by contrast – and until it was right next to the gouache painting the background looked pretty decent; but watercolor simply hasn’t got the “oomph” of guache. But I’m not unhappy with either painting!

Zoom call today!

We’re working our way through the 30 Days to More Confident Sketching class, and seeing a lot of student work all at once has helped me see some areas that I think I need to spend more time teaching – and that’s how to see shapes and values better. It’s a very natural thing for me after all these years, and I need to figure out how to communicate it in ways that’ll make sense to students!

In a little while – 2 hours after this post is live, as a matter of fact – I’ll be hosting a zoom session about graphite and charcoal, and I think I’ll be demonstrating trees since that’s the subject for the day in the class. Trees are often a frustration point for students! If you’d like to join in, pop over to Artventure, we’d love to have you join in! (It’s free!)


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  1. Julia

    I would have done the same!

  2. Karen Zemko

    So proud of you for “taking one for the team” and biting into that chocolate! How brave you are! HA! Wonder if I can follow in your footsteps??? Both paintings are awesome, but I’m drawn more to the gouache. Maybe because my main mediums are acrylic and oil. Although I have to say in both mediums, I was taught to start with the middle value, not the dark. As Priscilla Hauser (mother of tole painting) used to say “there are many ways of right”. TFS

  3. June from Minnesota

    I had to bite into chocolate pieces over, and over and over to get the perfect caramel look. The box is now empty. What can I say? I am a perfectionist! 🙂

    • Sandy Allnock

      I’m just lucky I don’t like any of them but caramels – I’m safe from finishing off the box! ha!


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