A Twist Of Lemon


Do you know that some of the truly transparent yellows are brownish in their concentrate? For example, Transparent Yellow and Quinacridone Gold can be diluted to the palest yellow tints yet when you squeeze them from the tube they appear brown. Every watercolor palette needs a warm and cool version of yellow as well as a transparent and opaque yellow. Don't forget that even raw umber and raw sienna are included in the yellow family and when mixed with blue make interesting greens.

This painting was done in a private garden in the town of Luca in Tuscany where I taught a workshop. For the darker shades on the lemons, I added cobalt violet which is the complement of lemon yellow. Darkening a color or dulling its intensity by adding its complement can be tricky in watercolor. It works nicely with the lighter colors but darker colors like mineral violet or perylene green can easily turn muddy when you add their complement. I added the cerulean blue background last and I thought the visible brushstrokes related to the brushstrokes on the lemons, leaves and branches. On a larger painting, this one is 6 x 8 inches, I probably would have painted a more solid background. The leaves are mixtures of olive green, cerulean blue, lemon yellow and the branches are combinations of burnt sienna, raw umber and ultramarine blue. With plein air painting, it is always tempting to do more when you get home but I have found that this often destroys the fresh quality that comes from painting on location. I am happy to say that I finished this painting on location and did not add or change anything later. Happy Painting! Dennis Pendleton

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