Thursday, June 14, 2012


Lemons are an ideal subject to study the color yellow.  In this project, we will be using different techniques to paint our lemons -- salt for texture, transparent layering, negative painting, and mingling.

To download a pdf of this tutorial, for $6, click here.

You'll need a few lemons for models and some salt (any kind will do).  I used 6 different pigments -- Aureolin Yellow, New Gamboge, Quinacridone Gold, Raw Sienna, Quinacridone Burnt Orange, and Quinacridone Magenta.

Do a pencil drawing of your lemons, and indicate a tabletop and some cast shadows . . . 

Now, prep two colors on your palette, to use for the first wash -- Aureolin Yellow (cool yellow) and New Gamboge (warm).  And, have some salt handy.  Wet each lemon separately, and then paint
these two yellows onto each lemon.  Allow some of the yellow to move into the shadow.  When there is just a sheen on your paper, sprinkle on some salt.  Do this for each lemon, and  let this dry completely

When this is totally dry, brush off the salt before proceeding.  Mix a light wash of Quinacridone Magenta (or something similar).  Paint the background with this wash, down to the tabletop.  Then paint the cast shadows with this wash.  Wet the area first with clear water and then paint the magenta.  Let this dry completely.

For your next layer, use the New Gamboge and Quinacridone Gold on the outside of the lemons.  Do each lemon separately again, wetting each one with clear water and dropping in the color.   Sprinkle some salt on this layer, too.  While this is drying, mix a less intense yellow, using Aureolin and a little Raw Sienna.  Use this to do some negative painting on the inside of the lemons.  Paint the triangles, leaving a sliver of "light" between the triangles and around the rim.

Brush off the salt after this is dry.  Now, add some form to the lemons by painting in a little burnt sienna (Quinacridone Burnt Orange).  Don't add salt to this layer. 

Now, mix a dark, using the Quin Burnt Orange and the Quin Magenta.  Use this mixture to add a few darks to the stem area of the middle lemon and to the part of the cast shadows, directly below the lemons.  Paint it onto dry paper, and then soften the edge with a damp brush.

Can't you just smell them?  Now, just slice your lemon into a glass of ice water, and enjoy!

To download a copy of this tutorial, in pdf form, for $6click here.


  1. Brilliant! Thankyou so much for the salt tip! I have painted 3 lemons but struggled to get the rough surface of the lemon. A EUREKA MOMENT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. Yea!! I love eureka moments!!! So glad this was helpful.