Gardening Life in general Oil Painting Painting Plants Still Life

Early Girl on Blue Velvet

Tomato on Purple Velvet, Oil on panel, 6x6"
Tomato on Blue Velvet, Oil on panel, 6x6"

Last year I planted Early Girl tomatoes and Best Boy tomatoes. They must have gotten together and had some fun over the winter because they’ve returned bearing fruit this summer all on their own.

I was ready to paint something other than that stupid scene at Sibley. Rummaging around in the kitchen a  tomato caught my eye and then when I reached into the stack of colored cloths I keep for still lifes (or is it still lives?) in an overhead cabinet, I came away with a blue-violet piece of velvet (actually it’s a small velvet bag).

It was fun working with such saturated vibrant colors but now I have to clean brushes and let go of painting for a few days while I return to my “day job.” Although I often feel grumpy at having to make that switch, today I’m feeling very grateful for a good job and my comfy home and studio, given all the terrible news of financial ruin and weather-caused devastation I’ve heard today. I haven’t been watching any TV for the past month, which has been great, but today I took a look at the news while I ate dinner and was so sad to see all the suffering.

Oil Painting Painting Still Life

First Gnarly Tomato of the Year

First Tomato, oil on panel 6x6" (click image to enlarge)
First Tomato, oil on panel 6x6
I didn’t plant tomatoes this year, but oddly, last year’s plants came back on their own. This critter was the first one to ripen and it was so gnarly looking I had to paint it. I wonder why it turned up with this shape? Could it be 3 or 4 tomatoes that grew together like Siamese twins? Or did the tomato frame that supports the vines dent it?
I started by doing a couple watercolor sketches to get an understanding of the shape. Then I made a gallant start on the oil sketch, getting it almost done but then fiddling with it until I had to scrape it all off, repainting and then fiddling some more. I must have scraped and fiddled and scraped 10 times. I called it done at midnight and went to bed.
Tonight after work I gave it another shot, and am happier with this version (painted on top of the first). I can see that I wasn’t using enough paint the first time around. There are so many other colors than red in a tomato and mixing the right color for the right spot is surprisingly challenging.