Morning class, this week I’ve been enjoying taking my breakfast outside onto the terrace which gets great mid-morning sunshine. Because the angle of the sun is lower at this time of the day, it can create a lovely backlight for translucent subjects.
I really liked how the sunlight coming from behind the orange segments gave them this wonderful backlit glow and thought it would work well as a little weekend acrylic study.
You can download a reference image below to follow along with the lesson, hope you enjoy it!
Downloading the reference photograph
The photo below can be downloaded, so you can use it as a reference image, print it out and follow along with the steps below.
You can download a larger version of the image here.
Materials you will need:
- 8 x 10-inch (20 x 25cm) canvas or board
- Neutral Gray 7 Acrylic (or you can mix your own using Burnt Umber, Bone Black and Titanium White)
- Cadmium Yellow Light (Cadmium Yellow Medium would also work well)
- Cadmium Orange (Golden Paints)
- Permanent Alizarin Crimson (Winsor & Newton)
- Ultramarine Blue (Golden Paints)
- Burnt Umber (Golden Paints)
- Turquoise Phthalo (you can mix your own with Phathol Blue Red Shade and Phthalo Green)
- Hansa Yellow Light (Golden Paints)
- Rosemary & Co, Golden Synthetic, Series 302, Size 10
- Princeton, Aspen Round, Series 6500R, Size 4
- Acrylic Marker by Daler Rowney FW Marker filled with Sepia High flow acrylic (Golden Paints). I use this for drawing out but you could also use a pencil
- Glazing Liquid Gloss (Golden Paints)
- Airbrush Medium (Golden Paints)
- Palette Knife ( I use an RGM diamond shape size 45)
I’m using a 8 x 10 inch (20 x 25cm) cotton canvas. I toned my canvas by applying a pre-mixed Neutral Gray 7, diluted with water and a little airbrush medium. A coloured ground helps to take away the glare of the white canvas and gives me a neutral base to work on top of and if you want to learn more about the benefits of painting on a coloured ground see: How a prepared canvas can drastically improve your paintings
Step #1. Drawing out the image with an acrylic marker
You can download a high-res 8 x 10 image of the line drawing here: Orange Segment Line Drawing
I’m really looking for the main shapes of the orange segments, making sure that they’ve got a nice curve to them. Because the far edges of the plate go off the frame, try to imagine you were drawing the whole plate so the curve at the bottom matches the curve at the top. I’ve also got in the cast shadow from the plate underneath.
Top – Daler Rowney : FW Mixed Media Paint Marker – 0.8mm
Step #2. Blocking in the background with a turquoise.
To add a bit of intensity to the background I’m using the Turquoise Phthalo from Golden paints, you can always mix your own using a little of Phthalo Blue (Red Shade) and Phthalo Green. It’s a high tinting pigment so I start with some Titanium White on my palette and then just add a couple of drops of the Turquoise Phthalo (this was also a high flow I’d ordered to try with the pen)
Rosemary & Co, Golden Synthetic, Series 302, Size 10
Princeton, Aspen Round, Series 6500R, Size 4
I paint this on the background with a square flat brush, I used a Golden synthetic range 302 from Rosemary & Co, size 10.
Once I’d blocked that in at the top, the next stage was to mix a neutral grey for the cast shadow. I darkened down the Neutral 7 Gray I used for the ground with ‘black’ I mixed, using Burnt Umber and Ultramarine Blue.
For the small sunlit area of the table to the bottom right-hand side, I added some Titanium White to the Neutral Grey 7. This helps to emphasis the shape of the cast shadow and ground the plate into the scene.
Step #3. Blocking-in the plate
I swap to a synthetic round brush, this was a Princeton Aspen round, 6500R, size 4, but any round brush would be fine.
Here I’m just using Ultramarine Blue diluted with water. I start to block in the main shapes on the plate, nice and loosely leaving the floral pattern showing.
I add a little bit of the Burnt Umber & Ultramarine Blue ‘black’ to darken the Ultramarine Blue mix. I’m mainly adding this to the under shadow side of the orange segments, where the least amount of light it hitting.
Step #4. Adding glow to the orange segments
For the orange segments, I paint some Cadmium Yellow Light warmed with a touch of Cadmium Orange. If you have a Cadmium Yellow Medium, that would work well straight from the tube. This gave me a brighter base to work on top of and I really enjoy it at this stage, there’s something so fresh about it. Even with the simplicity of the flat graphic colours, it still tells the story of the scene.
Pro Tip: If you are using a student grade Cadmium Yellow it make take several layers to get the same intensity, you could add a little Titanium White to help with coverage.
From here I add a bit more diluted Cadmium Orange and start to flow that in onto the outer edges of the peel on the orange, my brushstrokes are always loose and painterly to break through some of the sharp edges.
Step #5. Adding contrast around the shapes
The next step is to work on the shadow sides of the orange segments, again using the earlier Ultramarine Blue and Burnt Umber mix. I also start to build up a slightly thicker wash of Ultramarine Blue around the plate and then mix in some Titanium White to lighten the value and start to add some of the details with the flowers.
Step #6. A pattern impression
I’m trying to give an impression of the pattern on the plate, without getting obsessed in the detail. I’m always aiming to balance the energy of the brushstrokes with the viewer still being able to interpret the subject.
Adding more white to the Ultramarine Blue and using the round brush, I’m adding thicker daubs of paint. I also put a very fine white edge on the very bottom rim of the plate so that it stands out next to the grey shadow.
Then I glaze down the centre of the orange segments using Permanent Alizarin Crimson. This is diluted using Acrylic Glazing Liquid Gloss so the thin film of paint holds together rather than running down the surface of the painting. I glaze over the whole central area of the orange, and also onto the plate that’s in shadow. I also add a subtle glaze to the shadow tone under the plate.
Once this is dry, I start to layer a slightly thicker paint onto the orange segments and glaze down a couple of the bits in the background, Then I put some white details just on the very top of the pith of the orange segments.
Step #7. Adding depth to the orange segments
Once the warm glaze had been painted in, it was easier for me to judge the shift in colours within the flesh of the orange. I painted in some thicker applications of paint observing the shifts within the light and saturation. Notice wherever the light is shining through the flesh it is the most yellow, giving the impression of translucency.
I also added cooler hues to the pith of the orange that is in the shadow, this is harder to judge because you know it’s ‘white’ so take your time observing the hue.
I then glazed a subtle yellow over the top of the brightest section using Hansa Yellow Light, which is a transparent yellow.
Step #8. Finishing touches
For the finishing touches, I add some dashes of pure Titanium White to the centre of the floral pattern and refine the shapes a little.
Next time we cover how Acrylics compare to Water Mixable Oils painting a blended sky, In the video tutorial we will observe the handling properties and the pros and cons when just diluted with water.
Have a great weekend!