Match the Colors of the Apple

The green skin on the left side of the apple isn’t very saturated.

I start by painting the green on the left side of the apple. It’s mostly white, with Benz Yellow, and a small touch of Phthalo Blue. Add a small amount of Quinacridone Magenta to dull the green down slightly. It’s definitely not a bright green.

The center part of an apple is darker than you would expect. If you look at the swatches of color on the reference photo, it looks like it’s black. However, it’s actually a very dark burgundy color. The other areas of the apple also contain brownish reds.

The pink color at the top left of the apple is mostly magenta, yellow, and some white to lighten it. You’ll have to adjust the ratio of colors until it’s a close match.

Use the same pink to paint the top right of the apple but mix in some white and a small amount of Phthalo Blue to make it duller.

Up until this point, I was only using Quinacridone Magenta and Benz Yellow to mix the reds. In case you’re wondering, you can mix your own red because it’s not a primary color. I use the Pyrrole Red here because I need a red that’s more opaque to cover over what I already painted.

Making the Final Refinements

“McIntosh” Acrylic on canvas, 2.5″ x 3.5″

So far I’ve blocked in the basic colors of the apple. The rest of the painting is making small adjustments and smoothing the transitions between colors.

If you watch the video, you’ll notice that I painted the dark burgundy area numerous times. It’s much darker than what you anticipate. So if your apple doesn’t look right, it could be that you didn’t go dark enough.

Another finishing touch is to add the very dark part of the shadow underneath the apple.

The stem is has a neutral highlight on the left and a dark brown in the center.

I took the time to paint in a subtle reflection of the apple in the stone surface that it’s resting on. It’s optional, but I find that some of these subtle details are what can make a painting.

Tips on Blending Acrylics

Blending is a matter of personal preference, and it depends upon the type of paint you’re using. Oils will stay wet for a long time so you can continue blending as much you want. The downside is that you can’t paint over wet paint very easily. I have another post on blending techniques for acrylics if you’re interested in a more in depth demonstration of acrylic blending techniques.

Blending Regular Acrylics

Regular acrylics dry fast. It helps to use a water bottle to mist the paint on your palette to keep it wet. You can also use a wet palette to keep them wet longer. Here’s my review of the Masterson’s Sta-Wet palette. The palette has a sponge in it and the lid will keep the moisture locked in so you can store it for days without having the paint dry out.

One strategy is to work on small areas of the painting so you can blend them while they’re still wet. It’s also possible to mist the canvas with water to prevent the paint from drying out. Thicker layers of acrylic will stay wet longer than thinner layers.

Another approach is to use thinner acrylics and dilute them with water. You can apply multiple layers and build up the color gradually, similar to a watercolor painting. The fluid acrylics from Golden work well with this technique, as do the Soft Body acrylics from Liquitex. Thick, heavy body acrylics require a lot of water before they will flow freely.

Blending Slow Drying Acrylics

Slow drying acrylics, such as Golden’s OPEN acrylics, will stay wet for hours. But it depends upon the environment. They may dry faster in hot, dry, or windy conditions.

I find that they’re the best acrylics for smooth blending. It’s also possible to add retarders to regular acrylics, but I like convenience of being able to squeeze the paint from the tube and use it as it is.

One down side of OPEN acrylics is that you can’t apply them in thick layers because they will remain tacky for a long time. But smooth blending usually requires thin layers of paint so I don’t view this as a problem. You also have the option of creating thick textures with regular acrylics and then painting over them with slow drying acrylics.

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