Friday, 24 February 2012

Artclass Challenge: To Paint a Tomato in Opaque Paints

An ideal painting exercise for beginners, recording how a single-coloured object appears to vary under different lighting conditions will help develop visual perception and banish the notion that a red object is simply one red.

How to Paint Red

This lesson explores the colour red. For ease and the purpose of this exercise, a tomato is the chosen subject matter, (although a pepper can be used.) Tomatoes possess smooth undulating contours enabling the artist to explore how its local colour shifts from one area to the other. To begin with, look for as many variations to red as possible within the tomato(s), such as

Violet-red, russet- red, orange-red, golden- red, blood-red, oxide- red, pink-red and brown-red

Parts of the tomato may possess no red whatsoever. In such cases, watch out for the automatic inclusion of red within the colour mix due to the nagging insistence that tomatoes are red all over. Often this is not the case. In fact, when painting a bright-coloured object, subtle or neutral hues will often predominate.

Art Materials Required for the Art Exercise
  • Students may use acrylics, alkyds or oils as their chosen medium. Pigments to include are at least two different reds – one warm, one cool. Recommended reds are: cadmium red, permanent rose, alizarin crimson, crimson lake or carmine. Other colours that will come in useful are cadmium yellow, ultramarine, burnt sienna, burnt umber and white.
  • A large red tomato (or pepper)
  • The art surface, fine sable brushes and hogs.
  • Associated art mediums (linseed oil or alkyd medium).
  • Soft pencils
Method on How to Paint Red in Variations
  1. Position the tomato onto a white surface to encourage reflections. Aim for side-lighting to promote light and shadow over the form.
  2. Make a rudimentary sketch of the tomato by using a soft pencil with faint lines. Don’t dwell over detail.
  3. Observe the tomato as areas of different reds, some will vary in colour temperature (warm or cool) others will appear more neutral than others, again others will vary in tone. Simplify these areas into 3 – 6 different types of red (and non-red colours if any can be seen).
  4. Begin with the middle toned red first. Decide on its colour temperature and tonal value. Adding a little blue or violet will cool the red; adding a little yellow or burnt sienna will bring it warmth.
  5. Darken the colour for shadows if necessary, adding a little blue or blue-green or burnt umber. Record the shape of each colour area. Take note of whether it has a perceivable outline or whether it grades out.
  6. Look for reflected light from neighbouring bright surfaces. Just a little white to suggest a bright area is needed.
  7. Clean the brushes before working on the lighter areas. Again, observe the colour temperature of these areas, burnt sienna, cadmium yellow or yellow ochre can be used for lighter reds.
  8. Apply neat white over the highlights.
  9. Observe the shape of the shadow pooling over the worktop, which might be violet, blue-brown or grey. Work outwards with a paler colour for the background Detail is not necessary here. This background ‘wash’ is intended only to help key in the tomato’s tones.
Perfecting Techniques for the Tomato Painting
  • Stand back from the painting to get an overall view of the tomato. Extra highlights or deeper shadows may suggest form if the tomato appears flat.
  • For smooth effects, acrylics can be mixed with a drying retardant to offer more time to blend colours into one another. Alternatively, thinned glazes can be applied one on top of the other. Glazing is ideal for deepening colours and for perfecting the appearance of the lower paint layer.
Differentiating the Lesson on Painting Red

Students who find this exercise a challenge may paint the tomato without perceivable shadow. This can be achieved by placing the object within a well-lit area, such as near a window. Fewer reds will be perceived and therefore only two or three flat colours will need to be mixed and applied.

More able students may cut the tomato in half and have a go at painting the inner structures including the pips. Fine sables will be needed to illustrate the inside of the tomato. Further reds will be seen, which will border on green, yellow, brown and blue in places.

Why do my colour mixes look dirty?
All about oil painting mediums
Step by step demo on wet into wet

No comments:

Post a Comment