Simple Exercise: On Being a Lemon

 I ask workshop students to start with this exercise using a lemon and/or something similar (peppers, apples, oranges etc), with simple shapes and strong, clean colours. Using a large sable brush size 12 with a very good point (Rosemary’s Brushes) loaded to saturation with transparent yellow PY150 (Handprint is a wonderful site for all the information you need on paints, their characteristics, lightfastness etc and how the different brands compare) the shape is blocked in, very wetly, as you can see, leaving an area untouched as a highlight; then a little cerulean mixed with yellow is added (this was a fairly green lemon) by touching the loaded brush to the surface. This ‘dropping in’ technique is more effective than brushing more paint in, which tends to just move the paint around, rather than adding it. Then I add more water. Timing of both water and more pigment is crucial, depending what effect you want; if you drop them in while the area is still thoroughly wet they will bleed evenly into the whole area. If you wait till the painting has gone over from soaking to damp and has that damp sheen to it, your bleeds will be more controlled and spread less far. It’s worth doing a few tests to check this out. This was done on a sheet of Daler/Rowney Langton rough.


First step, blocking in the shape with a loaded brush

Dropping in green

Adding water and a stronger yellow pigment, a cadmium yellow or similar


Above. Finished lemon

Below. Two more lemons, the first on Saunders Waterford rough, the second on Saunders Waterford hot press. Your

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