I illustrate all my children’s books with traditional materials: mostly watercolor, pencil, colored pencil, and ink. But I also enjoy painting fine art every once in a while. When I paint a watercolor piece, like this still life, I use the same steps I would use in an illustration. I thought I’d share my process with you.
These are the steps I took to paint these pears with photos of each stage:
I went with Arches 300# super white cotton because I didn’t feel like stretching the paper. With paper that heavy, there’s very little warping—you can see I decided to tape it down later anyway. Ha! The best-laid plans!
After drawing the outline with a pencil (and using a kneaded eraser to pick up a lot of the graphite, so the line is very light), I painted an underpainting of the shadows with M. Graham watercolors in Neutral Tint.
In order to prevent the background paint from bleeding into the pears, I completed the pears next. I started with a glaze of Hansa Yellow and added Cadmium Yellow to the darker portions. Hints of Permanent Green Pale were added to the body of the pear and layers of Permanent Green Pale and Azo Orange in the shadows. All paints are M. Graham as they can be re-wetted and used after drying in the pallet without graininess.
To keep it simple, I just used Neutral Tint for the background and additional shading and cast shadows. I carefully wetted the paper around the bowl, pear, and especially around those stems with a small brush before adding the pigment and let the wet paper spread the pigment tight to the outline of the pears, etc.
Finally, I used Ultramarine blue for the bowl design. I thought the pure color was perfect, and just layered more of the same Ultramarine for the darker side of the bowl. Also M. Graham brand paint.