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BY Thomas Maxwell

What you will need:

  • Oil Paper (Canson XL range is a good option)
  • Oil Paints (Preferably a beginner’s kit with the core colours)
  • 2 Brushes (Usually included in a beginner’s kit)
  • White Spirit (Usually included in a beginner’s kit)
  • Painting Medium (Usually included in a beginner’s kit)
  • HB Pencil
  • Easel
  • Palette (Usually included in a beginner’s kit)

The main thing you want to look for in painting, and your artwork in general, are value breakdowns. Values and sectioning your work will allow your piece to blend better and to add further detail. The best way of doing this is sectioning the piece, look for where the light is coming from and where the shadows are. I usually section on my paper as well as it makes it easier for knowing where I should be painting darker and where I should be painting lighter. Not understanding lighting can cause a ripple effect on your work, making it look less realistic. 

Now for this part, we want to start drawing the subject onto our paper. It is important for this bit to not be too detailed as most of these pencil marks will be removed later. Very lightly go over the areas on the paper of where the artwork will go, following on from our previous discussion on sectioning, make sure you know where your light Is coming from as this will be key for the piece. I usually put the stem area just off to the side so that the image isn’t straight on, which makes it easier for realism.

Now we can get to painting! Now it’s important to note that some of the edging on this piece was neatened postproduction purely for teaching reasons. So, what you want to do is mix your reds and yellows to make your orange. To darken, add either some darker red or brown if necessary. To lighten, add either more yellow to make it warmer, or a hint of white. It is important to remember where your sections are and lightly start applying the paint to the paper. It is important to dip your brush into the painting medium. What this does is break up the oil paint a little to make it easier for applying more than one layer. Try not to use a lot of paint here because chances are you need to go over the area later. 

TOP TIP: If you are struggling to get the right colour, check your brush against the orange. 

When starting out, it’s ok to go up to the subject and just check to make sure you are on the right track. Also, another tip would be if you want two areas to blend better, clean your brush and very very lightly go over the area. Oil paint brushes are usually longer than standard brushes; the further away your hand is, the lighter the touch. The brush would then mix the two areas, and this would create a new median which would blend this together.

It is important to note that oil paints can take up to three days – if not more sometimes – to dry (depending on the size of the piece), so don’t worry if you don’t get this done in a day! This orange took me three days after work to finish, remember it’s a marathon, not a sprint! Apply the paint loosely to begin with, then as you put down more and more layers, you can start to add small little details. 

TOP TIP: Don’t start super detailed as this will delay you even longer! 

Apply the paint roughly and once you are happy with the colours, start to build up and eventually start adding in more and more detail. If you make a mistake, do not panic!! Simply wait for it to dry and re-apply the original. Keep building and building the piece until you are happy with how it looks. Remember with painting, unless you want it to be ultra-realistic, you don’t need to add all the detail. For example, here, compared to the reference image, I haven’t included the small dents on the orange because for me I am happy with how it looks and this is all just practise. 

Follow Thomas on Instagram: @thomasomaxwell or visit www.thomasomaxwell.com.

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