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  • How to paint an apple
    (c)2003, aisling d'art

    Okay, here it is, HOW to paint the apple. Directions are for painting on canvas, but you can adapt to any medium:

    0. Gather an apple, plus your art supplies.

    Personally, I use Grumbacher Max water-soluble oil paints. All the advantages of oils, without the smelly stuff and icky cleanup! Yippee!

    (I'll discuss paints in another article. Meanwhile, here's the short version: Acrylics are easy to clean up, and often cheaper than oils. They dry very quickly, which some folks like. However, the colors are sometimes a little unnatural. This may be a plus; it's really a matter of personal taste.)

    If you're going to be painting in oils or acrylics, cover your canvas with acrylic paint in a yummy red-orange color if your apple is green. OR, cover it with any nice juicy green if your apple is red.

    Let the canvas dry. I mean REALLY dry, like a week or so, even if you used acrylics (which are fine even if the finished painting will be in oils.)

    ...I underpaint all of my canvases with a juicy red-orange. Usually, I use a good brand of acrylic artists' paint, in Cadmium Red Medium. It has to be orange-y red, not purplish/rosy red.

    Why use a "good brand" of acrylic paint for underpainting? Well, if you use the cheap stuff, it peels off when you try to paint over it, so look for the medium-priced brands. In other words, avoid the two-for-a-dollar "student specials." But don't go crazy dropping money on paint that you're mostly going to cover up anyway.

    1. Put an apple in front of you, on something where it's getting some light on it. Any table or cleared-off desk is fine. If you choose the floor (lucky you, with some floor space! *grin*), you may have to rest your chin on the floor too, to see the apple at a good angle. I recommend against using the floor for this purpose. Explaining the imprint on your chin, from your textured floor tile... well, it's awkward. *chuckle*

    Look at the light. What color is it, when it hits the apple? Artificial light and moonlight will generally be blue-white. Ott light, full-spectrum light, and sunshine will have other colors in it.

    Notice the range colors before you start. Don't just stare, but also do a lot of glancing at it. That is, close your eyes, open them quickly so you just catch a glimpse of the apple, and then close your eyes again.

    What colors did you notice?

    Don't get gridlock'd into thinking in classical colors. "Red" apples are often purple, really. Or even orange and yellow, with a whole lot of green. "Green" apples can be mostly yellow. Or weirdly purple. Or... you decide. I mean, it's your picture, right? *grin*

    2. Take a piece of paper or canvas, and vaguely rough in a background, and the color of whatever the apple's on. Try to leave a round spot where the apple will go. Try not to cover alllll of the underpainting color, because it tends to look cool if a little shows through.

    Really. In the finished work, some of the underpainting should show. It'll make the painting seem to glow, even more.

    (One more thing: If you're being insanely distracted by stuff around you, go get a piece of paper or a 3x5 card or something. Cut a square in it, that you'll look through, to "frame" the image in front of you. Only paint what you see through the opening. This can help enormously!)

    3. Next, using the biggest brush you own, put some red on the canvas, vaguely resembling the shape of the apple. If it's a Granny Smith, green may be the preferred color! Or not. *grin*

    4. Now pick up the next smaller brush you own.

    Look at whatever colors impress you the most. Don't think that all red apples are "red allllll over," or anything like that. They usually aren't. Some red apples have yummy purple shadows on them. Some favor green shadows. Some even have yellowish shadows.

    Paint the next biggest area of color that you see. Don't worry about making it perfect. Neatness does NOT count! You want to work in splotches of color, at this point. Really. Trust me on this one! *grin*

    Always, always exaggerrrrrrate the colors. If it's kind of yellow, make it lip-puckering-lemon yellow. If it's purple, make it glowy-dusk-on-a-hot-summer-night purple.

    Remember: Paintings are NOT photographs. If someone wants a photo, let them use a camera. You are painting. That's MORE than being a low-tech camera. Throw that "eye-hand coordination" nonsense out the window. Splotch the color on, and savor it!

    5. Keep doing this until you have all the big areas of color you see, represented on your canvas.

    6. Now move to the next smaller brush. Continue studying the myriad colors you see, and sticking them, in splotches, on the image. By now, it should either look like a great, delicious, juicy apple, or one heck of a fruit salad. Either one is fine. I mean, we're going for beauty here, not excruciating perfection. (I repeat: You are NOT a camera. Don't try to perform like one, or compare yourself to one.)

    7. Continue, going to smaller & smaller brushes, adding smaller & smaller splotches of color. Stop when you first think, "Oooh, I think maybe this is done."

    Yes, you MAY actually improve things for the next ten or 20 minutes, if you keep painting. Do NOT be tempted to do this. (That should be in flashing neon lights.) If you continue, within about 15 minutes you'll have passed that point where you realize that you should have stopped sooner. You'll hate your painting, and decide that you can't paint, never could paint, painting is stupid, and all that stuff.

    So, once again for emphasis: Stop when you get the first inkling that maybe the painting is done now.

    Leave the painting alone. Let it dry. In two weeks--NO SOONER--you can add or fix anything that is driving you totally nuts. But give it a chance to grow on you, first. You may decide that you like it, just as it is. Really.


    Okay, that's the art lesson for today. *grin*

    So go paint an apple now, and stick it in your journal. Or on your wall. If you're not certain if you like it, hang it in your garage; garages are notoriously under-decorated.


    lotsa art!

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