Mellow Yellow



Activity 1.2
Painting the surface of a cut lemon, using only one tube of yellow paint
This was actually quite scary! I took a photograph of my half a lemon, which was easy peasy, but then things got tricky. I sat and looked at the blank page in my sketchbook, and looked at my tubes of paints, and looked at my brushes and markers, and couldn’t pluck up the courage to put paint to paper.

Sadly, I’ve mislaid the photo of my lemon, but I have the notes I wrote when I looked at the cut surface as carefully as I could. 

I did samples of the various yellow paints I have, including a couple of acrylics and a gouache, but they handle a bit differently to water colours, and I wasn’t confident about using them. Consequently, I decided to stick with water colours.
In addition, I tried out some little sample marks, to see what would give the effect I wanted. I thought natural sponge might be good for the lines on the fleshy segments – the sponge looked a bit frondy, like the lemon pieces, but the painted effect was much too random and splodgy. So I tried painting lines to look like the ones on the lemon, using the point of a very fine brush, and the end of a small, flat brush. The lines on the real lemon seem to be slightly lighter than the surround, but I made them darker to make them stand out. 
First Effort: I worked from centre out because I thought it would be easier, but painting a colour wash circle first might have been better. I lost the pithy white bit in the centre, and ended up with seven segments instead of nine, and they look a bit seaweedy or leafy. This was a rubbish image, but I quite like the edging!
 Second Effort: Happier with this – I got the right number of segments, but they needed more colour, and the markings, created with the edge of a small flat brush are better. I built up colour on the pips and the edge of the lemon, which is darker where the zest is, and I tried to get the effect of the little dots that are there – when you look closely it’s not a solid block of colour. 
Third Effort: Disaster! Tried painting over a colour wash, but the base colour was too dark, even after I blotted it, and things just went downhill from there.
Overview: It’s actually quite difficult trying to reproduce something in just one colour – I found I could water the paint down to make it paler, and build up layer by layer (either with the wash or with the stronger, original colour) to get darker yellows for the rind around the edge and the pips. So even with just one tube of paint you can produce different colours, which is pretty amazing – it’s knowing how to do it that’s the problem!
And finally, just to show that the blog notes are more or less the same as the ones I stick into the sketchbook (although I do change the odd word here and there!)

About chrisharding53

I'm a former journalist and sub-editor who loves needlework, reading and writing, and is still searching for the Meaning of Life, the Universe and Everything. Until I find the answer I'm volunteering at an Oxfam Book Shop and learning about Creative Sketchbooks!

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