Green Apples, a painting demonstration


Even before I got to this point I did a value sketch on paper to map
out the pattern of light and dark. I also experimented with various
compositional possibilities. I felt this one had the most variety in the

I drew this with vine charcoal on a wood panel that was primed with
two coats of gesso and one coat of white lead. Having the head touch the top gave the image a more intimate feel as well as dividing the upper space nicely. My goal was accurate placement of big areas. This stage may take hours until I have established a good sense of rhythm moving through all areas.


I knew I wanted the effect of a warm glow so I put an underpainting wash of raw sienna over the general area I would be working in. The darks were keep warm (brown) and transparent. I won’t usually use blues and purples in large dark areas because they cause the appearance of sinking. I lay in the hair thickly with a palette
knife. I am keying this painting very different from the photo I am working with, everything is pushed toward warm. IMG_145

Since I am holding back the color intensity it is easy to make a dull green, (ivory black and cadmium lemon) appear bright in contrast. The goal is to hold to a very few color mixtures and keep repeating them for harmony. At this stage the “world” of the painting has been established, so I continue to work through the areas, keeping an eye on the flow of one shape to the next.


I always try to be open to making adjustments to the original
drawing based on what the painting needs at a certain point.
The hand holding the apple I made longer as well as the
supporting arm. This painting will also need a coat of varnish to
bring the life back to the dark areas.

4 Replies to “Green Apples, a painting demonstration”

  1. Great explanation. Love that you really take your time with the block in. A good reminder for me to take my time. Wondered if you have any trouble with the vine fouling your color or transparency when you put on the paint?


    1. Thanks, if the vine charcoal is too heavy where I want to paint something light I will erase all but a wisp of it. I have started using white chalk on darker areas, which comes off really easy.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s