1. All watercolor paints are transparent to some degree, but even the most opaque colors cannot completely cover an underlying color the way oil paints can. Consequently, most watercolor artists (me included) begin a painting with the lightest colors and add layers or washes in progressively darker hues. Layering yellow over a dark color will alter the underlying color, but cannot cover it.
Breaking the "rules", I experimented with a technique in which all the shadowed areas are applied first, then the colors applied over the shadows.
It isn't necessary to use black paint from a tube to make shadows - I don't own any black paint. Mixing Phthalo Blue, Alizarin Crimson and Quinacridone Gold - all very strong, staining primary colors, but still transparent, will make a very dark bluish black. Since all of these colors will permanently stain the paper when dry, other colors can be layered over the top and the shadow colors will not "lift" and muddy up the new colors applied.
2. The shadow mix was used sparingly under the yellow paint for the habaneros. The shapes of these peppers were developed with a cool lemony yellow and a warm yellow that suggests more shadowing.
Fiery Food - hot pepper watercolor demonstration
5. All the reds and yellows are toned down from the intense vibrancy of step 4. Subtle cool greens are added to a few of the yellow peppers. The shadow color from step 1 is used again over some areas of the red peppers and in all the dark crevices.
Achieving a near black in the shadows and retaining some pure white reflections are important to convey bright, glaring sunlight.
The masking fluid used to preserve the reflections of light on the peppers is removed.
6. The reflections are softened, but the illusion is still of very bright light on glossy surfaces. The stems are completed with darker greens for shadowing.
Ripe peppers and tomatoes will be available about mid-August at the farmers markets in beautiful, abundant displays of red, green and gold.
Fiery Food - Handle With Care.
4. Light green on the stems creates sparks of cool color in an otherwise very warm painting. Deep orange makes for strong shadows on the yellow peppers.
Filling in the red-checked tablecloth immediately tells us that the peppers are lying in a jumble on a flat surface. The shadows cast on the cloth by the peppers in the upper left now make sense in the painting.
3. Bring on the reds! Orangey-red and true red are painted over the shadows, and the peppers have quickly taken shape.
They look so innocent, don't they? Like a bowl of plastic fruit on grandma's table. NOT!
Hot colors and a glossy shine are the only things these super-hot peppers have in common with their sweet bell pepper cousins. Just a tiny bit of a habanero will really heat up your dinner. Don't even think about touching these hotties with your bare hands!
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