Return of the lemon

Slightly less than a month ago, I made a begin with my first attempt
at painting a lemon. Today I braced my self for the next chapter in the saga, by buying a tube of cadmium yellow lemon (azo) — and, for good measure, a tube of dark naples yellow. Buying cool stuff is, after all, one of the main reasons for pursuing a hobby.

Lessons learnt today: ‘cadmium yellow lemon (azo)’ isn’t much use for painting lemons, and neither is ‘naples yellow (fonce)’. The photograph I made of of the still life was taken from a subtly different angle, and is not sharp enough to boot, and therefore nearly useless. A peeled lemon will rot and grow mold in the second week, even in the fridge. It is impossible, however, to paint a lemon like Heda wet-in-wet, and I strongly suspect the master from cribbing, that is, not painting after life, but using other paintings as examples. Although there are plenty of still lives with lemons that show mold. Cadmium yellow doesn’t really cover pencil lines, either.

The wetness of the inside of the lemon is hard to get right; but a step in the right direction is painting thin lines along the radials of the cross-cut:  (click for a bigger image)

However, the really cool effect, the glistening you can see here isn’t my work, but the result of the camera catching the light and reflections in the still wet paint. It gives me a hint, though — I need a colour brighter than white to top the painting up with. Or, alternatively, darken everything a bit, and add pure white with a little bit of yellow.

Another problem was the knife. If you compare the photograph:


With the result of today’s exertions:

You’ll notice I have tried to get the reflection of the lemon in the blade of the knife. That’s a bit of a poser, as is getting the ‘feel’ of metal right. Oh, well, when this layer is dry, I’ll try again with the next layer. Another problem is perspective: this is something Heda and co spent a lot of time getting it right, and in their heyday they could tumble a tazza and paint it with impunity.

And again, the really cool bit, where wet seems wet and metal looks as if it gleams is more due to my camera than my ability. Sorry…