In celebration of the release of my latest Skillshare course Paint Produce! Intro to Drawing Fruits and Vegetables with Watercolor and my highly “giftable” “The New Victory Garden 2022” Calendar (see a theme?), I’ve synthesized a few hots tips on how to accurately render fruits and vegetables using watercolor.
Drawing fruit and vegetables is the perfect way to get well acquainted with watercolor paint. Not only should you have fruit and veg on hand (AKA no excuses), painting produce is the ultimate study in observation, volume and color.
“Draw from life!” There’s a reason that annoying drawing teacher of yours was also merging together random objects to create a still life. Drawing abides by the 10,000 hour rule. You’ve got to start somewhere and commit before you can move onto painting whatever it is that’s in your head. Drawing from life retrains your scrolling brain to reconnect with the present and forces you to draw what something is instead of what you “think” something looks like.
“Look Look Look!” Before committing with watercolor, give yourself a few 1-minute drawing exercises. Draw with your opposite hand. Draw the composition without taking your pencil off the paper. Draw your still life without looking down at the paper. It’s easy to get frustrated with technique especially if you haven’t picked up drawing since a discouraging art teacher killed your creative joy. But before getting lost in “what” to draw, commit to drawing what is in front of you. All the information is there, so just draw it.
“Light Source”. Drawing veg is the ultimate exercise in understanding volume. And rest assured, it’s as easy as identifying where the light source is. This will cue you in on where you need to save the white space (what not to paint) and where to put the shadows. And of course, reflecting light can say a lot about what a fruit or vegetable can be. Think of how light reflects off of a red rubber ball versus an orange. A red rubber ball reflects it in one defined area because it has a completely smooth finish. The orange reflects light on each of the pores on its zest (note: how to create texture).
“Mix Mix Mix!” Who doesn’t love paint by number? But alas, this is the wild west of watercolor. The beauty and dynamic nature of the medium is when colors are mixed. It’s a truer representation of what you see and it’ll jump-start your understanding of watercolor, too.
“Be Bold!” Common knowledge in watercolor is to dose out the color from the lightest to darkest. This is good advice in a finicky medium that sadly still doesn’t have an undo button. However, since produce is already brightly saturated (AKA colourful), be bold and add the color as you see it instead of torturing yourself with layer after layer which can easily turn into a watermarked mess.
Let loose, save the white space and don’t drink the watercolor water! More here.