Monday, October 4, 2010

Raisin Harvest Watercolor- Stage One

For me, as an artist, there are two times when the vineyards look spectacular. The first is in the Spring, when the leaves first start to pop on the vines- they actually seem to glow when the morning sun shines on them. They start out a beautiful bright shade of green. My other favorite time in the vineyard, is when the grapes are being harvested and set out on the grape trays to turn into raisins. Harvest time is a pretty time because it is late summer and the vines are starting to turn colors and there are hints of fall shades mixed in with the green. The grapes are green when they are put on the trays and start to change color as they dry. The raisin trays used to be made out of wood and were much more interesting from an artist's point of view, but somehow have gone away- apparently the farmers prefer the paper trays. I will be looking for old photos with wooden grape trays, but for now this is what I have!

My in-laws used to own a vineyard, and I have many photos for painting. I have done many vineyard paintings in watercolor, oils, and acrylics. Watercolors just seem to be the best medium for this subject. Recently, I noticed that I have very few of these paintings in my own home. Most have gone to live elsewhere as gifts. I have PILES of photos that I shuffle through whenever I am looking for inspiration for my next painting- this time, the vineyard kept catching my attention.

I took a photo of my pencil sketch, but it wasn't drawn darkly enough even with the help of photoshop, so I am not bothering to post that step. I am starting with my photo showing my initial washes. I always love this step of a watercolor, when things start to take shape.

The dirt was wet-on-wet washes using Burnt Umber and Burnt Sienna mixes. The leaves were various mixes of Sap Green and Chromium Oxide Green. I will add other colors later, since it is late summer and some of the leaves have started to turn color. The raisins are a light wash of Alizarine Crimson and Ultramarine Blue just to give them a base.

The most difficult step is going to be deciding how to tackle the shadows. In oils, it is easier since I would be working over dry paint (leaves and dirt areas), but in watercolor things can easily get messy and muddy. I am leaning toward using a purple tone for the shadows, we will see how that goes. Any ideas? Off to paint...
Thanks for looking!


  1. fascinating post and a great start. Looking forward to seeing how this progresses :) xx

  2. Dear Sheryl,
    Interesting post and very good start!Thank you for sharing the precious process. I'm wanting to know what's going on.
    Cheers, Sadami


Thank you so much for your comments- I love to hear what you think!