Saturday, 6 December 2014

Red, Like Rudolph's Nose

Getting the right red for a botanical painting is really quite a challenge. Being a primary colour, true red is not a colour that can be mixed, and getting the right shade of red for the job can be a tricky business. There are hot reds and cool reds, scarlets, crimsons and all shades in between, and although I have painted a lot of pink subjects recently, bright red is not a colour I have had to tackle very often. So, to get the correct tomatoey, orangey red on my 'Botanical Baubles' composition, I made a lot of colour notes and put some new shades through their paces.

Looking at the Daniel Smith squidges that I have recently been 'gifted', I spotted four really promising bright reds and scarlets. Pyrrol Red is a classic mid range red, Perylene Scarlet has a more orangey tone but great vibrancy and Transparent Pyrrol Orange is bright and clear, and along with my favourite Perylene Maroon are all really warm reds, offering scope and flexibility for a good range of tomato shades.

The finished onion

The cherry tomato and it's mixes
Using Sennelier Yellow Light in the reds, gives a greater range.

Ready to go. the drawing, top and raffia tie are already complete

Back to basics
The hot shot reds of Perylene Scarlet, Transparent Pyrrol Orange, Pyrrol Red
and Maroon Perylene from M. Graham

Using Sennelier Yellow Light in the mixes with the reds to make a range of oranges gave enough yellow without the colours becoming too 'buttery' as I call it. Cadmium Yellow being opaque was too overpowering to make gently translucent oranges, so moving away from this has really brought my colour mixing up a gear. I also have M. Graham's Azo Yellow but this would have been a bit too lemony and cool for the mixes I was after. Tomatoes are warm, orangey and, well tomatoey.    

The lighter shadow tones and highlights on the tomato had a greyish, buff colour in them, so here I used a touch of Indanthrene Blue in the pale orange mix to create a very light grey colour. This was applied just around the edge of the tomato and into the blurry highlights. 

The first wet-in-wet washes of pale orange, then a punchier reddish orange begin to shape the tomato.

The palette of colours mixed and ready for use

Where the white edge is seen, the buff-toned shadow colour bleeds nicely to soften the harsh whiteness.

Some of the typography is drawn in. 

Having worked a couple of wet-in-wet washes, it was time to move onto the dryer brush details. Using a just damp brush and fairly strong mixes, I worked darker mixes into the shadow areas and darker patches of colour. Blending the colour with a clean, damp brush softens the edges and keeps the blurry appearance.

At this point, I wish I had stretched the paper as it was starting to buckle. Being only a small off cut, the paper didn't have the strength to hold the wet washes too well, so I had to stop working up the tomato. Still, I am quite happy with the result, and loved working with the colours. From squidge to tube methinks.

Darker areas are worked using a just damp brush and stronger wash mixes

Ta dah!

The finished piece
Using the darkest red mix for the lettering keeps a nice, coherent look to it all.   

And, just in case you missed the painting of the onion, you can catch it here at 'Veggiebaubles'.


Janene said...

Gorgeous colors and very clever card design (if that is what it is?)! I am curious about how you did the beautiful lettering--with a brush or pen?

Sketchbook Squirrel said...

Hi Janene and I am so pleased you like this one. It's actually part of the sketchbook exchange project I am part of, so this one will be heading off soon.
The lettering has been done using a fine rigger brush and watercolour mixed to a single cream consistency. The letters are drawn on first.