Back to Basics

It is almost fruit season out here in California. By that I mean painting fruit in watercolors.

My wife got me a book about how to paint vibrant watercolor and I am starting from the beginning. Well, almost the beginning. The first chapter was about how to paint an apple. One of the interesting steps in this lesson is for the painter to feel the apple; feel that it has bulges and corners. The one apple I have in the house is going a little bad on the top part, so I skipped to lesson 2, citrus.

Today’s watercolor experiment:

Here is the reference photograph:

Photograph: Fruit - Orange and Lemons

According to the directions, I began with a pencil drawing and was sure to include the shadows as part of the fruit itself.

The next step was to notice the colors that reflected from the fruit. For example, on the left side of the lemon in the foreground, there is a slight tinge of orange, and on the right side of the orange is a tinge of lemon yellow. I left the highlights unpainted so that the white of the paper would be the brightest part of the painting.

At every step of the way, the author offered suggestions about the colors to use. First, lemon yellow, yellow deep (which is actually a shade of orange), cobalt green and rose madder. There was no way for the author to know that I had a couple of lemons that were actually green in spots. She said that a dash of green would give a ‘sour’ look to the fruit. I could not find a use for rose madder in my composition. Perhaps I missed something.

In the second phase, the yellow deep and opera (a red color by Holbein) were colors used to brighten the orange fruit and add a tint to the lemon.

Finally, I used permanent mauve instead of the recommended mineral violet to paint the shadows and the places where the stems attached.

Watercolor: Fruit - Orange and Lemons

Orange and Lemons
11″x14″ 90# Cold Pressed Watercolor Paper

I’ve painted fruit before (A Coven of Dragonfruit, Single Dragonfruit, Kiwi from Another Planet, Crab Apple Still Life, Mango Orange Guava, Star Fruit). But I do need some more practice, as you can see by comparing the reference photo and my composition. I would like to try more techniques from this book. (I can’t wait to try bananas.)

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