Tuesday, October 19, 2010


hi there!

i finished! i'll start from the beginning, way back in september . . .

this was originally for the rookie painter challenge due last month - here's the photo prompt they posted there:

i have to admit, when i first saw it, i kinda shrugged it off. i didn't see anything exciting there; despite my admiration for artists who can portray that wonderful translucence in the citrus fruits, i just didn't feel this one was for me.

but then i looked at it again - and saw these wonderful blocks of color, especially in the shadows - and it clicked! i would do it exactly as i saw it - in distinct color blocks. i also saw more, warmer reds in the yellows of the lemon, & realized it'd make a nice contrast if the background & foreground were cooler. i also decided it had to be big to really show up the color blocks. looking at what i had on hand, i chose a 12x16 art board (only the second time i've painted that big!). ok - challenge on!

i put the photo on the digital picture frame, then went to sketch it in. easy-peasy, thought i - just a few curves and . . . err . . . that main part of the lemon kept coming out flat & wobbly - and i couldn't get the receding aspect on the slice at all! so, i gridded up the board, place my lucite grid in front of the frame, and sketched it in - & that worked fine!

for the shadows, i kept the sketch simple, but i made sure to get the lemon details fairly exact to get the right relationships between inside rind, outside rind, & pulp.

i wanted the background to stay cool so i chose prussian blue, anthraquinone blue, and ultramarine violet along with the titanium white. these colors were looking really 50s to me, & i liked 'em!

then i brought out the olive green & hansa yellow to get the color for the table. for the darkest shadow spots, i used alizarin crimson with what i already had out. the lighter shadows were combinations of the blues, green, and dark along with white. i loved the shadow areas, especially on the slice - there's light coming from all directions (well, maybe just two or three!) in the photo, and that made the shadows there complicated & interesting.

one thing i did that i think was important & helped keep the colors clear was that i was careful to not overlay the colors - the blocks of each color are the only thing there, with no (or as little as i could get myself to do!) blending.

i was pretty happy with it - it was hard to not blend the blocks of color in the shadow under the larger portion of lemon, but i felt it still represented what i wanted to do.

and there it sat. starting the next day, i had to go for numerous medical tests (don't worry - everything's fine for now!), and it took me much longer than i thought it would to recoup my former levels of energy & interest. but finally!

after catching up on all your blogs & wonderful paintings, i felt ready! without thinking about it, i put out naples yellow, indian yellow, transparent red iron oxide, and viridian along with white. these gave me light, warm, and red-tinged values to play with - & play i did! what fun, just laying down the colors!

earlier yesterday, nancie johnson had commented, "I think you'll enjoy the new vision you'll gain on painting shapes & colors (I did!)" & boy was she right! it was like stepping into an infinte, newly remade wide-open world of color & light!

in fact, i was having so much fun, everything just flowing from the end of the brush onto the canvas - that i realized when i was done (which was a sudden & surprising moment) i'd not taken any photos of the process! but in general, the naples yellow (with or without white) was for the lightest areas, then the indian yellow in combo for the midtones, and trans red added for the shadow areas. the lemon pips are straight trans red - couldn't resist! the nobbule on the end of the lemon is viridian mixed with white & naples yellow, and lighter versions of that, with lots more naples & white, are in the green tones in the pulp of the lemon slice.

and here it is:

it's rekindled, after being away from painting for so long, my joy in seeing-like-an-artist ("ooo - greens in the pulp! reds in the skin!") & painting. i feel this painting has a lot more 'me' in it than some i've done recently & i'm really happy with it!

oh - i'm trying something new - i got a bottle of m. graham's walnut alkyd medium, to see if i could use it, given my chemical sensitivities. it seems that as long as i don't stick my nose in the bottle & inhale (my usual test - you should see me trying to find a glue i can use!!), it's ok. i'm hoping it'll help the paint dry a bit faster, especially with winter coming up. the thing is, the paint went on thinner & more transparent (i used just one or two drops for my little blobs of paint, and 4 drops in the 1" long strip of white), so i'll have to keep experimenting with it.

well, that's it for now - off to do some blog reading & commenting - then deciding what to paint next. there's a number of new challenge projects (i've added more links in the box to the right) that are intriguing. the aspens of the wilderness art challenge would give me practice in doing landscapes, which i really want to learn. but the daily painters international - black & white plus one color - sounds yummy! or, i may just put together a still life at home!

thanks for stopping by - take care till next time!



  1. Good to see you back again Dusty, this painting has an interesting almost abstract look to it, well done!

  2. Dusty - this came out fabulous! I knew you would enjoy painting the colors & shapes. I use to get so hung up with the details all the time, and the blending, blending, blending. But what I found, and you have now too, is that the shapes, colors & values matter -- the human eye will do the blending for us! Thanks for the link to me, appreciate it!

  3. WHat a great blog. Love your work - and the list of artists is great for browsing.

    If you feel like browsing blogs, do check out mine. I'm a documentary film maker and I blog about what I find interesting, and inspiring. I think you might like it.




  4. i like the cool green you put on the table, instead of a yellowish tone that i would have opted for. Added to the blue, the contrast is there but not aggressive. Nicely done. Helen

  5. Dusty!!!
    WOW... the simplicity and beauty of your shapes and colors is just marvelous!!

    You are so right... It looks a LOT easier than it really is.

    Job well and wonderfully done!

  6. Hi Dusty, Your lemons turned out beautiful and crisp. You really did a great job. I am glad you decided to paint them and shared your process from start to finish.

  7. thank you, all, for your lovely comments! i've not been able to blog for a bit, but am getting back on track - thank you for your patience with my tardy responses!

  8. thank you, dana! i enjoy that space between realistic & abstract - lots to discover there!

  9. thank you, linda! i really enjoyed this one!

  10. thank you, nancie! you were so right - but it was really hard to keep from blending - had to hold my hand back at times!

  11. thank you, yolanda! i hope in my small way to be helpful to other beginner painters! looking forward to checking yr blog!

  12. thank you. helen! i tried to get the blue & green equal in value so the line between them behind the lemon & slice would sorta disappear, & it seemed to work!

  13. thank you, marian! i confess that before i started i thought it might be easier than trying to do a realistic version - but it was quite challenging!

  14. Your forms have such weight and your colors are clear but so nuanced. Very nice work I think.

  15. thank you, shirley! i decided for this one to work on an untoned canvas so the colors could be as pure as possible, & it seemed to work!


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