Open Studio Online Class Still Life

These Open Studio Online Classes are supported by Sligo Leader Partnership Company as part of the delivery of the Social Inclusion Community Activation Programme (SICAP)

Class start date: Tuesday 28th July at 11.30am

Remaining classes

Friday 7th August

Tuesday 11th August

Friday 14th August

Clementines by Julian Mellows Smith

Hi everyone.

Here goes… and good luck with it.

The first thing we must do is to plan our painting. I have suggested that you use a good quality canvas 20 x 16″ (50x40cm)

Divide your canvas into 5 : 4 areas (see below)

50cm x 40cm so each division will be 10cm approx

Divide your working picture in the same way (5:4)


Mix up a little ink for the inking stage. This is made with a little white spirit poured in to a jam jar lid (see below) with a touch of Burnt Sienna paint. Mix around until the paint turns in to an ink. Please dont have the ink too watery or don’t have it too strong.

Mixing the Burnt Sienna with some white spirit.

Never ink shadows or reflections. The pencil line alone are sufficient for them.

When inking, make sure to dip your brush lightly in to the mix, scoop a few times on the edge of the lid (to remove excess liquid) and apply on top of your pencil lines (see below)

Main lines inked but no ink on shadows and reflections

Use a very small round head sable haired brush to ink your drawing. Please just concentrate on the main lines and do not ink your reflections or shadows. We will deal with these with paint later.


Just before we start to paint I think you should have a look at this colour chart above and familiarize yourselves with some of the upcoming colours and their secondary mixes.


Painting your background

There are basically three colours to work with here.

I have put Burnt Sienna on the top right, Burnt Umber in the centre and on the remaining middle left but I’ve increased the darker Raw Umber nearer the leaves and the Clementines.

Tone in these three colours as you go along. I have used acrylic browns here in this case as they will dry quicker and will accept the upcoming oil painted reflections that can only be painted on almost dry browns.

If you don’t have acrylic colours then of course you may use the oils but you may have to wait a little longer for these browns to dry.

Toned Acrylic Background.


Place your colours roughly in their areas. The colours that I have used here are Cadmium Yellow, Orange (Cadmium Yellow and Cadmium Red) and Darker Orange which means just adding a little more Cadmium Red to the Orange. You will notice that some of the Orange colours appear a little brighter mainly at the left areas of each clementine. To achieve this, just add a little Yellow and White to boost the brightness where necessary.

For the highlight, just place some Titanium White with a small palette knife, flatly (just as if you were buttering bread)

Use the knife, without scraping, confidently, and without fuss with about 2-3 touches only. Any more touches and you will lose the clean white.

Sometimes you may find that your paints may be a little dry and inflexible. If this is the case, a few drops of Linseed Oil (available at the art shop) will loosen up the paint.

Applying your Colours

Continue on to the remaining Clementines using these same colours, toning as you go along and adding the various dark and bright shades where necessary.

You will notice that some of the darker Oranges appear even darker in some areas so in order to darken them just add a little Raw Umber to the dark Orange.

Adding the darker and Brighter Shades as Areas are Toned


For the leaves you will need to mix a variation of green shades. It is always better to pre-mix plenty of the colour you need rather than finding yourself having to do a repeat mix.

The colours that I have used here are Sap Green, Sap Green/White, Sap Green/Cadmium Yellow, Sap Green /Cadmium Yellow/ White. These are mainly the Middle and light Greens. Viridian Greens are also used here and there and are added as you go along.

The darker greens are just these greens with some French Ultramarine Blues and maybe a touch of Raw Umber added.

You will also note little touches of blues through some of the greens. Please apply these carefully and prudently.

Note where your highlights and as above with the Clementine highlight (see above illustration) apply with minimum stroke and fuss.

As you are painting in the leaves the ground now needs to be started. This is a mainly white base coat with additional colours added.

I have used a light touch of French Ultramarine Blue on the main base and through the shadows I have increased the Raw Umber content with the blues.

Keep your shadow outline soft and allow it to roughly blend in with the light ground paint here and there. Remember the shadows are darker the closer they are to their object and lighter the further away.

Keep a look out for contact shadow as this is the shadow that grounds the object.

Don’t try to have everything perfect. Use relaxed loose strokes here and there to create a more exciting outcome

Being too careful and accurate can sometimes result as a bland and boring painting.

Grounding the Objects


Sketched Vase and reflections in Chalk

Sketch your vase and reflections with some white chalk on the dry dark background.

Lightly moistening the brown background

Now just lightly refresh the background with some of your original dark browns. This is to ‘melt the colours’ (such as the French Ultramarine Blues of the vase and the orange in the orange reflection) into the background.

Having the dark colour slightly wet will help you to do this. Please make sure you refresh the background colour LIGHTLY because if it’s too heavy it will spoil the colours and make them too cloudy.

Adding the French Ultramarine Blues and White Highlights

Now is the time to put in the blues, the highlights and remaining leaves.

You will notice that some of the blue colours are brighter than others. The colours that appear darker are the ones that you should allow the slightly moist dark background paint to mix with.

Paint the highlights but be careful not to over do them. Allow them to fade off at their edges. Notice that the outline of the rim is not continous and some of it even disappears into the background.

Please ensure that you do this as a full outline at this point spoils the effect.

The colours that I have used for the leaves were Sap Green, Sap Green with Cadmium Yellow, a little Viridian Green here and there with whites.

For the darker shades please use Sap Green, French Ultramarine and Raw Umber for the various dark shades. the darker they go the more of the blues and browns are added.


Finally paint in the orange and green reflections on the moist dark background. Once again, this will help to give that distant look to the reflected orange colours.

Allow a little extra colour at the tops including little white highlight.

Try not to dwell too much on detail with this one. It should have a casual brush stroke finish to it throughout in order that it’s not too tight and rigid.

I hope you’ve enjoyed painting this with me.