Friday, June 8, 2012

WATERCOLOR WORKSHOP: Values 1st/ Color 2nd -- Painting a Red Apple

Here's one approach to a painting, for you to try with a red apple:

1) Draw and paint a value painting first;


2)  Paint transparent color glazes on top of the value painting.

This way, you get the 3-dimensional form first, without having to worry about the color.

Start with a simple drawing of an apple, and also indicate a cast shadow, a highlight, and the line for a tabletop . . . 

Mix a red-violet wash, using Quinacridone Magenta and French Ultramarine (or something similar).  Using that mixture, paint the apple and the tabletop, leaving the highlight and the top 1/2 of the background white. . . (this does not have to be an even wash, and you can wet the area first, to get a more uneven wash, like I did).

After that is dry, using the same mixture, paint the cast shadow and parts of the apple . . . 

Now, mix up a darker purple, and paint just a few parts of the apple, and part of the cast shadow, softening the edges with a damp brush.

You now have a 3-dimensional form that should resemble an apple . . . but it's begging for some color!

Clean the purple off your palette, and prep three warm colors -- a yellow, a warm red (Windsor Red or Cadmium Red), and a cool red (like Permanent Alizarin Crimson).

Now, do a mingling of these colors on your apple, right on top of the value painting.  Start painting the yellow on the parts of your apple that are the lightest value, then switch to the warm red, then finish with the cool red.  You can wet the apple first, and then add the colors, if that is easier.

You can see how I brought some of the red into the cast shadow, for reflected light.

When this is dry, you may want to glaze over the apple again with a red wash, since red tends to lose its brightness somewhat as it dries.

I'm sad that I covered up all the nice warm yellow in the middle -- so, if you can keep from doing the same thing, you will probably like it better.  

To finish your apple, mix a dark purple again, and hit just a few spots on the apple and stem, as well as a small sliver (not an outline, just a small dark shape under the apple.  Be careful that your cast shadow isn't a solid dark color; otherwise, it will look like a hole that your apple is about to fall into.

Now, try the opposite approach to painting an apple, by painting the color first, and then add the values -- see which way works the best for you.


  1. im going to try this tonight with watercolor and than acrylics

  2. Cool! I'd like to see the results -- send pix!