How to Paint Banana and Red Apple
9" x 12" cold-press watercolor block
#12 round Chinese brush
watercolor paint: red, yellow, and blue,
In this demonstration, we are putting two subjects together in a setting; this will add a new challenge and dimension to our painting. We will see the setting as one subject and the balance between the items as another subject. Painting a still life is a good way to practice applying color and value (darkness vs. lightness).
Placeing Objects and Rough Sketch
We begin by thinking where to place the main subjects, then work out the visual relationships between the apple, banana and cloth in terms of size. Be loose with your drawing until you feel that you have the relationships properly represented.
Sometimes we skep this step and not doing the pencil sketch on the watercolor paper, however, we do it with light watercolor paint, or do it in my mind.
Establishing color relationships
When the sketch is complete, add the first layer of color. For this exercise, start with yellow, red, blue, and burnt umber and mix the other colors from them. Use a number 12 round brush to apply the first layer of color to each object. When applying color, begin with the lightest value and move to the darkest. Mix blue and yellow for the green tones in the banana and mix red and yellow for reddish-orange highlights on the apple. Add a little burnt umber to yellow for the brown areas on the banana and use unmixed burnt umber for the stems.
The banana's first layer of color is the lightest yellow on the banana. Compare the value between each of the objects. Do the colors of the different objects relate to one another the way you want them to?
Tone and Detail
After the color relationships have been established, add more detail to the apple, the banana, and the cloth. Look for the high and low value points. The highlights will remain more or less untouched, so you must build to your darkest points by adding detail. Ask yourself, are the darkest and lightest points established? Is the color rich enough? Add layers of color to the darker areas until you are satisfied.
Correcting and Adding Details
You can correct areas which you have overpainted through a technique known as " washing". To wash, load a clean brush with water and go over the dark and muddy sections of your painting. Don't be shy. Express yourself freely and then correct your painting. Only keep the sections of the painting that you like, and add extra details as you see them. In this process, squint your eyes so that you are seeing the major comparison of color and value between banana and apple and the backgrounds.
A painting is finished when you are satisfied with it. Does it express your impression of the subject? Does it capture a sense of the color and light that you see in front of you?
Sometime is important to know when to stop painting. Sit back, look at your painting from distance. Squint your eyes if you need to. As yourself this question: is there anything missing?