This post might seem kinda strange – How to Paint a Tomato with Watercolors. I mean, why a tomato? Random much?
Actually, I was tackling the numerous piles of paintings I have strewn all over and I found some vegetables, my very first attempt at watercolors. There were two surprises here, one was a line drawing of this tomato and the second came when I searched the blog to see when I posted them.
Two years ago! TWO years? I keep thinking I’m a watercolor newbie and what a shock that I started quite a while back. Granted, my life has had some serious interruptions but still . . . two years?
Anyway, here was this collection of watercolor veggies that looked . . . okay, and here was this lone unpainted tomato.
Oh, why not. I remember when I painted the other veggies they took days and days. Could I now paint this tomato faster? Have I actually learned some things in the past two years?
You be the judge.
You can download the pattern if you’d like, although tomatoes are just squishy circles.
sidenote: I don’t use patterns for watercolors anymore. That’s progress. I think.
You’ll want a couple of reds – a true red and an orange-red. I don’t have expensive/good watercolors yet. (I got these at Walmart but they work.) I wanted to show you the difference in reds. From the left – Primary Red, doesn’t look like red at all. I’m not sure if it’s my cheapo paints or what. It actually does turn red-red when painted. Go figure.
In the middle is Brilliant Red, what I use for a ‘true’ red. But it’s still on the orange side. Then there’s Vermillion which is a nice orange-red.
A really good beginner’s lesson, imo, is to make watercolor splotches to see how the colors look and also how much water you’re comfortable with, both on the brush and on paper.
This is how I start – watering down the color.
Before we apply paint to paper, decide if you want to ‘mask’ any parts, in this case the green top. Using masking fluid – which is liquid latex – takes more time but saves you time in the long run and also makes your strokes much nicer.
Remember, watercolors will mix if water or paint+water is added. So if you paint the tomato red without masking then go back to add green to the top you’ll wind up with a mixture of red+green, a brown hue.
After the frisket dries wet the paper. How wet will depend solely on practice and what you like.
For a long time I didn’t wet the paper at all, just mixed water into the paint and applied that to the dry paper. It works but doesn’t give you a true watercolor look.
This first coat is Vermillion. You can see how wet the paper is from the shine, which means I added a bit too much water. It honestly doesn’t matter but since I was using a pattern, the colors would run past the ink.
You can ‘erase’ this by taking a clean damp brush and stroking the overpainting, wiping the brush on a paper towel and repeating until the paint is gone. Takes time and patience. Much easier to wet the paper less.
I told you I’d share my mistakes with you since I am not an experienced watercolorist.
Here is the dried version. Generally speaking, I let each coat dry before applying another. For one thing, watercolors dry a bit lighter. Also, if you apply another wet coat to an already wet coat you might ‘lift’ the first coat and wind up with a white space you don’t want.
Notice I left a white space where I want a highlight to be on the tomato. Painting white with watercolors will just blend into the basecoat.
I have used white acrylic from time to time to get an opaque white. shhhh.
And why not use masking fluid? A) I forgot and I like the way it turned out anyway.
I’ll admit, I’m not great with shading (or highlighting) yet so I’m open to comments/tips. On the tomato I chose to dab a little burnt umber to show recesses at the top.
Here is another coat of Vermillion. Yes, still with the orange-red. You can get more depth of color by adding less water to the brush. You could add one of the other reds here but I hoped to get a richer effect with an orange undertone.
Here it is dry. By adding more paint to the outside of the tomato and working inward, you get shading.
And finally a coat of red. This coat is a mixture of Primary Red and Brilliant Red. No brown at all.
When the reds dried I peeled off the mask and used a medium green on the top.
Final version. I took a clean damp brush to remove some color and create a couple of highlights.
Maybe I have learned a thing or two about watercolors.
It really doesn’t matter because I love painting with them. I still love acrylics . . . and doodling . . . but there’s something, I dunno, freeing about watercolors that makes me eager each day to paint.
I call that ‘success’ at some level.