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Home2014Orange Appeal

Orange Appeal

 The weather this week has been dark and dismal. Even as I write this, the rain is a relentless drumbeat against my window pane accompanied by a howling biting wind, and it’s set to continue. However, I really don’t mind. I’ve a delightful dwarf citrus tree, the Calamondin orange tree (× Citrofortunella microcarpa) sitting in my studio. It’s sunshine in a pot.

As Frank Sinatra said  “Orange is the happiest colour.”

I knew as soon as I saw this plant that it would be perfect for my final SBA painting. I wanted something that would work well with the other paintings that I am submitting, and this lovely little shrub with  it’s dark glossy leaves and tiny orange fruit was just the right colour, subject and size. 

So on to that crucial “Getting to know you” stage. I cleaned off my palettes and pulled out all my pencils, paper, colour charts and paints and began my studies.

I soon realised that the light, or lack of it was going to be a problem. In order to show my fruit off to it’s best, I really needed strong lighting. The light also has to be constant- it’s impossible to start in natural light and then switch to an artificial one, as the colours and shadows change too much. So given the rather bleak weather forecast (rain, rain and yet more rain), I decided that artificial lighting was my safest option.
I found a fantastic little magnifying light in Argos (LightCraft Compact Craft Light) the magnifier is great and the light is extremely bright and gives off no heat (so no wilting plants). It has a flexible head and best of all, it’s great value for money!

The little oranges proved a little trickier than I thought. Those dimples were challenging but essential to the texture. I tried out different techniques to see which would work best- first carefully painting around the dimples, then applying masking fluid with a toothpick, and finally adding in tiny dots of white gouache at the end. I plan to paint this on vellum so will probably opt to just paint carefully around the dimples and pick out the highlights with the tip of a scalpel.

Different techniques give different results- the two at the top (left)  were done using masking fluid, the two beneath had white gouache added at the end, whilst the ones on the right were just painted carefully.
The colours that I mainly used were indian yellow, winsor orange, winsor orange-red, pink madder (Pebeo), quin red, scarlet lake, purple lake, and of course the wonderful cobalt violet… the ideal colour for reflected light on fruit.
So many greens, but which is the right one?
The leaves were a struggle. They are dark blue on the top and a yellowy green on underneath, but I still haven’t yet figured out the right colour mix!  I used Indigo and aureolin (with a little perylene green, cerulean and green gold) in the tiny study at the top, but Indigo is a staining colour, and so not very cooperative if you make a mistake or go to dark.  A weekend of colour mixing lies ahead and then the real fun can begin. 
Next week I’ll paint to the music of the rain.

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