Eventually every artist seems to draw or paint fruit. Have you noticed that? So it seems hard to call yourself an artist if you haven't brought the fruit bowl to your art table. To that end I decided to have a go at fruit this month in watercolour. I have decided to take a very loose wet in wet approach. This is so very much more achievable for me, I think, as opposed to attempting some proper sort of botanical style, or classical still life. Maybe next month. Or the month after.
My inspiration is Andrew Geeson. I discovered him on You Tube and have been watching his videos over and over again.
Watching people painting is almost as soothing as painting oneself. Actually ... in some instances it may even be better. You don't have to lift a finger and every painting turns out brilliantly.... It's painting for tired people. But please don't let that stop you getting out the paints and experiencing the tactile delights of watercolour for yourself!
So I am following Andrew's approach....
I start with a rough pencil drawing. I decided to use rough paper for a change this month. As the name suggests it has a rougher texture which creates more opportunities for interesting effects created by the watercolour falling into the little hollows. On my 300gsm rough Arches watercolour paper I sketched out three pears with pencil. (I still hate graphite pencil, but Andrew said....)
The next bit is fun! Using clean water and a big brush splash water about, here and there leaving spaces. I think the idea is not to think too much about it, but I must confess this can be a bit tricky. I couldn't help but worry about putting water on the bits I wanted to stay as highlights. I suppose this is how one puts the stress back into a freeing process... It's a journey... I'll get there eventually...
Time for colour. I chose to paint some red pears. So I splashed in some Lemon Yellow, then my favourite Schminke Translucent Orange and Scarlet Red. Where the water is across the pencil sketch the paint flows and runs. It's delightful to watch. You have to try it.
The burst of colour is joyful, but we can do even better - with shadows.
I chose Ultramarine blue and Schminke Brilliant Blue Violet. I am trying to let the brush and the water do most of the work, but it requires some restraint not to interfere. Initially I couldn't help trying to make brush strokes that go in the direction of the pear shape. This is a good thing in the ordinary course of events, but I learned towards the end of the painting that it is better to press a confident brush mark into the paper and then leave it, rather than dragging the brush around too much.
If you do that you end up with more hard edges and unnatural looking shapes. Of course you can soften hard edges with clean water, but a more efficient way is to use the expressive brush mark and not fiddle too much. Another consequence of fiddling is that you miss out of the beautiful effects of the colours blending cleaning into one another by themselves. If you drag your brush though them you can end up mixing them rather muddily. (Is that a word?)
I let this stage dry and then went back in with a smaller brush to add a few details. And of course a few details soon become a few more. Before long you can't help wondering if you shouldn't have stopped painting and not added any further details at all.
Knowing when to walk away is something I will be working on this month, I am sure. Can't wait....
Won't you get out your paints and join me?