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Still Life Techniques - Painting Apples

This lesson illustrates a step by step technique for painting apples in a naturalistic style.

Still Life - Painting Apples

This step by step lesson explains and illustrates the technique used to paint the apples from our Still Life Painting lesson. By following the illustrated stages below, we lead you through the key points of their painting technique from the flat underpainting of their shapes to the three-dimensional rendering of their form.

Step 1 - Paint the background first

Step 1 - It is usually best to paint the background first.

As a general rule, before you paint any still life object it is best to paint the background first.

  • It is more practical to paint the objects in order from back to front, as it is technically easier to paint the edge of any object over the preceding one.

  • The apples are the last objects to be painted in our still life as they are positioned at the front of the group. They are also probably the easiest objects to paint due to their simple round form.

Step 2 - Underpaint the apples

Step 2 - Underpaint the apples.

Start by underpainting the apples with flat areas of local color, taking care to accurately outline their shape.

Step 3 - Apply dark tones and highlights.

Step 3 - Apply dark tones and highlights.

Using a thin glaze of of dark transparent green, overpaint the layers of dark tones and blend them with a soft sable brush.

  • Stipple and blend any subtle variations in the apples' skin color.

  • Using a more opaque glaze of white, stipple and blend in the diffuse highlights that reinforce their solidity.

  • Note the subtlety of the reflected light that creeps around the dark edge of the apples to gently enhance their form.

Step 4 - Adjust the dark tones and highlights

Step 4 - Adjust the dark tones and highlights.

Paint in the details of the dimples and stems at the top of the apples.

  • Using both light and dark glazes, adjust and balance the highlights of the apples, and deepen the shadows that attach them to the foreground.

  • When complete and viewed in the context of the surrounding still life objects, the apples take on a convincing realism with a strong presence at the front of the painting.


Next: Still Life Techniques - Painting Reflective Objects

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