Still Life With Lemons – Capturing The Essence Of A Subject

Focus On The Important Details 

In this lesson, we’re painting a very simple scene of three lemons in a white bowl.  It is the kind of scene that might lead us into painting every detail. Instead, we’ll focus on structure and composition, working from observation and including only the details needed to reveal the essence of the subject. 

The Essence Of The Subject

Every subject we consider for a painting will have a myriad of detail that could be included in a painting. Whether it is wise to include every detail in a painting (even if it were possible!) is something that is debatable. Regardless of where you stand on that topic, there is one truth to keep in mind:  Every painting, no matter how realistic looking is a representation of the subject, not a re-creation.

This is an important point that allows the artist to pour their own vision and creativity into their representation of any subject and explains the astounding range of expression in representational art.

The key is learning what elements and details should be included in a painting or representation of the subject.

What To Include In A Painting

This lesson is meant to highlight the value of working from direct observation. CONFESSION!  I started this lesson with the intent of doing a short “sketching” lesson.  The lesson became more about a finished painting almost from the start.  Therefore, it ended up being a longer, more in-depth lesson.

But the underlying idea did not change. That being the idea that a well composed structure, along with the inclusion of a few important elements is enough to create a recognizable representation of the subject, that also allows for some artististic interpretation.

We’ll also have to rely on our powers of observation since we are working with a a very simplified drawing.

A Bonus Lesson On Blooms

About 23 minutes in, you’ll find a short tutorial on fixing a bloom.  A very large, intrusive and distracting bloom appeared along the right edge of the painting.  Rather than fix it on my painting before continuing to film, I decided to leave it and use it as a lesson on fixing blooms.

Drawing Layout For Any Painting

One note on the drawing layout. The downloadable layouts are done with heavy lines to make it easy to see and copy onto your watercolor paper. It is best not to draw the lines too heavy on your paper, especially in the sky, since there is a good chance the lines will show through the paint. It’s not a deal-breaker, but those heavy pencil lines are sometimes a distraction.

What you’ll need


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