Satsumas and Clementines
2nd January 2004
Richard Bell's Wild West Yorkshire nature diary
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a black and white drawing of a lemon yesterday I decided I needed
to go into colour for these satsumas and clementines.
This is pure watercolour painting: there was no preliminary pencil
With Vangelis on the CD and probes circling Mars at the moment
I somehow felt that I was trying to paint these citrus fruits as
carefully as if I'd been recording a newly discovered set of moons
of Jupiter: each fruit is different, each has its own character.
I'd like to do more of this kind of subject; I like the lusciousness
of pure painting compared to the spare minimalism of pen and ink
line (though that has it's attractions when I'm in the mood for
There's a phrase that's used in oil painting of 'painting from
lean to fat'. It's true in this watercolour too: it came together
only in the last five minutes, when I put in the darkest shadows
- 'the plums' as artists supposedly call them - and it was only
then that the tonal arrangment really came into focus. Until then
it looked rather thin and wishy-washy.
Actually, the very last things I put in were the details of the
scars where stalks or the flowers that produced the fruit had been
attached. But I didn't want to go for too much detail. I didn't
want to include every pimple on the skin of the fruit.
under the Spotlight
have a desklamp and a spotlight by the desk where I do my painting.
The daylight had already faded so I pointed the spotlight, which
is clamped to a bookshelf, onto the fruit and set up a cardboard
screen to stop too much light from the desklamp shining on the subject
and cancelling out, or complicating, the effect of light and shade
from the single light-source.
I thought about putting blue tissue paper behind the oranges as
a complementary colour - to make the orange look even brighter -
but I was much more interested in observing the reflected colour
so I put white A4 paper behind the fruit.
I was surpised how much reflected orange light from the fruit found
its way into the shadows and onto the surrounding paper. The tungsten
lamp in the spotlight, which gives a yellow cast, increased this
couple of weeks ago my friend Wendy gave me a few tips about Dreamweaver
MX, the program I use when I'm compiling
this online diary. Thanks to her I've discovered this eyedropper
I decided that, as I've been painting satsumas, I'd like orange
headings instead of the normal red. With Dreamweaver (and I'm sure
this applies to a number of similar programs too) you can highlight
your heading then take an eyedropper tool from the colour palette
and select any colour on the page. You can then adjust the intensity
of the colour using a slider control.
For instance, I could pick up colour from:
the paintbrush handle,
the brush itself or the
green edge of this sketchbook page.
I could have a lot of fun with the eyedropper tool; thanks Wendy!
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