How Newcomers Can Compose & Paint A “Non-Boring” Nonetheless-Life

Study from the award-winning painter, Steve Curl, on methods to paint a still-life portray from scratch. On this digital watercolor class, he makes use of 2 easy objects that can assist you compose an attention-grabbing still-life: a glass of wine with all its reflections and refractions, and a textured, shiny lemon. Need to watch the video model? This tutorial can also be out there to members of our Watercolor University.

Supplies Used In This Watercolor Class:

  • A glass of purple wine and a lemon
  • A block of Arches chilly press watercolor paper (140lb, measurement 6″ x 9″)
  • HB or 2B pencil
  • Kneaded eraser
  • Portray palette for watercolor paints
  • A container of water
  • A towel or rag to relaxation brushes on
  • Tissue or paper towel

Paints (Holbein Artist’s Watercolors)

  • Cadmium Yellow Gentle
  • Aureolin
  • Cadmium Yellow Orange
  • Cadmium Crimson Deep
  • Opera
  • Everlasting Alizarin Crimson
  • Quinacridone Magenta
  • Mineral Violet
  • Ultramarine Deep
  • Cobalt Blue
  • Cerulean Blue
  • Peacock Blue
  • Sap Inexperienced
  • Yellow Ochre
  • Burnt Sienna
  • Vandyke Brown
  • Payne’s Gray


  • Stratford & York Warwick Sequence: Spherical sable brush (measurement 10)
  • Stratford & York Warwick Sequence: Spherical sable brush (measurement 4)

Step 1: Compositional And Worth Sketch


Arrange a still-life scene utilizing the glass of wine and the lemon, arranging them ready that you simply discover attention-grabbing. Then, do a thumbnail compositional sketch of the objects, utilizing a viewfinder if mandatory. You may mess around with the location and fluctuate the positions to search out what works and what doesn’t. Take note of the proportions and perspective of the glass and lemon, engaged on the shapes and patterns you see quite than working off a preconceived thought of what a glass of wine or a lemon ought to appear like.

If you’re completed with the outlines, do a fast shading of the principle values (i.e. gentle and shadow) to make them clearer.

Beneath is a close-up of Steve’s value sketch:


Step 2: Transferring The Primary Define


On the Arches watercolor paper, attract a border across the edge to border your portray, then flippantly draw within the outlines of your composition by following your worth sketch. Strive to not place your objects proper in the midst of the paper; it’s higher to interrupt up the oblong paper in an asymmetrical means. To verify the symmetry of the glass, you may flip your paper upside-down, or draw a faint line down the center of the glass and use it as a information. Notice that as a result of perspective, the glass’ rim, base, and the wine’s floor will all type the form of an ellipse. Erase any undesirable pencil strains with the kneaded eraser once you’re prepared to color.

Beneath is a closeup of Steve’s sketch:


Step 3: Portray The Lemon


Be sure your palette is clear earlier than mixing the colour of the lemon with the scale 10 brush: Cadmium Yellow Gentle with a contact of Aureolin. Add a little bit extra water than common so the paint isn’t too saturated, then begin painting the lemon. To get the dimpled texture of the lemon within the highlighted space, take some of the excess moisture out with a paper towel and “skip” the comb throughout the paper. The roughness of the paper (known as its “tooth”) will assist create the dimpling impact. When achieved, use a little bit clear water to melt the world the place yellow transitions to white.

Step 4: Moist-In-Moist Shadows


Before the paint can dry, combine in a contact of Cadmium Yellow Orange and Crimson Deep for the mid-tones of the lemon (this consists of the mirrored gentle alongside the very backside of the lemon) and for the darkest shadows, combine in Cobalt, Cerulean, Peacock, and a contact of Ultramarine Blue earlier than portray close to the underside of the lemon. Be sure the perimeters of those shadows are smooth because the lemon is spherical. You too can add in a couple of extra dimples utilizing the skipping approach talked about earlier than.

Step 5: Solid Shadow With Distinction


For the lemon’s forged shadow (i.e. the shadow beneath the lemon), add Alizarin Crimson and a contact of Mineral Violet and Opera to the blue combination, then paint within the shadow. You are able to do a slight overlap over the underside of the lemon to assist break up the uniformity of coloration within the shadows, and add contrast to your portray as purple is the complementary coloration to yellow. A small portion of this yellow can also be mirrored by the desk, so to color that, lift out a little bit purple close to the underside of the lemon utilizing a clear brush, then add some yellow to the identical space.

Step 6: Solid Shadow Of Wineglass


With the bluish purple combination, maintain portray the forged shadows, together with the one created by the wine glass. You may add extra Cerulean and a contact of Opera for a delicate change, because the wine within the glass will alter the shadow barely on account of its coloration and translucency. Barely soften the sting of this forged shadow with clear water so it’s a little bit completely different from the lemon’s forged shadow, then use the scale Four brush to color the details within the ends of the lemon with Sap Inexperienced combined with a little bit Vandyke Brown.

Step 7: Portray The Glass Stem


For the wine glass, use the identical coloration as used for the forged shadows, however dilute it with clear water so it’s not too darkish. With the scale 10 brush, paint within the shapes within the prime a part of the glass, leaving highlighted areas and the rim a crisp white. Add a little bit Quinacridone Magenta the place the wine coloration is mirrored within the glass, then combine in additional blues and Mineral Violet earlier than portray the left aspect of the glass’ stem. The place the stem overlaps with the lemon, add in Cadmium Crimson Deep, Yellow Orange, and Yellow Ochre. Be sure to maintain seeking to and learning your still-life set to maintain your shapes correct, and depart the center half the place the wine is within the glass as you’ll be portray it later.

Step 8: Portray A Glass Base With A Shiny Impact


For the bottom, use the identical coloration as the highest a part of the glass, though you may add a little bit Payne’s Gray to darken it barely. Depart a sliver of white gentle on the sting of the glass to create the “shiny” impact, and any highlights as wanted. Soften any shadows as mandatory, then paint in the lemon’s coloration in mirrored locations inside the glass’ base. Subsequent, add a skinny line of shadow blue on the appropriate aspect of the glass’ stem to bring it to the foreground extra.


Step 9: Bringing Out The Curved Impact


Change to the scale Four brush, and after cleansing it, combine Mineral Violet, Ultramarine Blue, Alizarin Crimson, Payne’s Gray, and a contact of Burnt Sienna to get a really darkish purple. Use this coloration to color thin lines alongside the rim of the glass, breaking the road the place gentle is mirrored. Add Sap Inexperienced for strains that refract the lemon’s coloration, then soften these strains a little bit with clear water. Repeat this course of on the prime of the stem and the sting of the bottom, mixing in the Sap Inexperienced or lemon coloration when wanted. This provides the phantasm of shiny glass as a result of excessive distinction in tones, whereas additionally breaking apart any uniformity in your brushstrokes and colors.

Step 10: Portray A Liquid (Wine)


To color the wine, use the scale 10 brush to combine Alizarin Crimson, Mineral Violet, Ultramarine Blue, and Cadmium Crimson Deep for a darkish wine purple. This would be the base coloration (a.okay.a. “native coloration”) of the wine. Paint within the wine, including a soft glow of Opera pink alongside the sting of the wine’s floor to recommend fluidity and translucency. Subsequent, add extra Ultramarine and Mineral Violet to the combination, and paint a second layer on the underside half of the wine in order that the wine’s floor seems lighter than the underside. If the paint is simply too thick, use a clear brush and a little bit water to elevate out some paint, being cautious to not scrub the paper too laborious. Drop in some Payne’s Gray for darker areas alongside the underside, and ensure to retain a number of the translucency that watercolor paint has. Add any ending touches to the wine and glass, for instance the forged shadow of the stem that falls throughout the bottom, then erase any extraneous pencil strains within the dry areas of your portray.

Step 11: Moist-In-Moist Background Wash


Clear your palette and measurement 10 brush, then paint a transparent wash over the background space behind the objects. Watch out when wetting the world close to to the wine glass; make sure you depart a sliver of a niche across the glass to emulate the reflective properties that cup has round its edges. Whereas the paper is moist, use the wet-in-wet technique and drop in a mix of Cobalt, Cerulean, and Peacock Blue, preserving your brushstrokes as natural (i.e. not uniform) as doable whereas ensuring to not get too near the wine glass’ edge. You may add a contact of Alizarin Crimson into the background for coloration concord and tie the entire portray collectively. Depart the portray to dry earlier than shifting on to the final step.

Step 12: Portray Shadows In The Wine And Ending Touches


Examine the dryness of the paper with the again of your hand, and when it’s dry, draw within the shapes of any darker reflections inside the wine space. Combine a darkish burgundy utilizing Alizarin Crimson, Quinacridone Magenta, and Payne’s Gray, then paint in these darkish reflections with the scale Four brush. If you’re happy, depart your portray to dry, and be at liberty to rejoice by making a toast to your self.

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