Watercolor Sketch of Pears with a Grisaille Under-Painting

In last week’s post, I showed how to create color charts using watercolor over a grisaille underpainting of different values.This week I want to show you a sketch I painted using this method.

Painting the Grisaille Under-Painting

I used my jar of the lighter value gray ink solution to paint all of the layers with the exception of the cast shadows which were painted with the darker solution. (See previous post for how to make dilutions.)

When painting the pears with my ink solutions, I first wet my pears with water. I did this because the ink dries fairly quickly and I wanted to have soft transitions of value. By wetting the area first, I had more time to blend the ink on the paper. The following photos show the progression of how I built up my values.

1st Layer

Painting in Darker Values

Adding Shadows

Adding Watercolor

Next, it was time to add the color.

Adding Watercolor

For the pears, I used a mix of Hansa Yellow Medium with Sap Green, New Gamboge, a mix of Quinacridone Burnt Orange and Scarlet Lake, and a mix of Sap Green and Royal Blue, and a very light Quinacridone Gold for the white highlights.

For the stems, I used Burnt Sienna, and a mix of Burnt Umber and Royal Blue to make a dark brown.

The table top was painted with Burnt Sienna.

Adding Lettering

To complete this page, I wanted to add a quote that I thought fit the sketch. I opened the image of my sketch in a publishing program on my computer. Then I added a text box and played around with different fonts and positioning of the words. When I arrived at a pleasing composition, I printed it. Then I used my lightbox and traced the letters onto my sketchbook page. For the lettering, I used three of the same colors I used in the sketch: Sap Green, Burnt Sienna, and Quinacridone Gold.The brush I used for the lettering was a Loew-Cornell #2 Ultra Round. When painting the first line, I used an ombre effect by starting with one color and before it had a chance to dry, applying the other color right next to it.

Completed Page

This was a fun exercise using the grisaille under-painting. It is hard to believe there is gray ink painted underneath those watercolors!  I am happy with the results!  If you want further information on this method please see these previous posts:

Using a Grisaille Underpainting in Watercolor and Exploring Color Using a Grisaille Under-Painting.

7 thoughts on “Watercolor Sketch of Pears with a Grisaille Under-Painting

  1. This is just amazing, Ann! I agree… it’s nearly impossible to imagine the there is gray ink underneath. It really aided the light/dark contrasts though. If I can get up the nerve, really looking forward to trying this.