Simple mandarin orange still life painting

Every time I took one of these mandarin oranges out of the bag to eat, I had the thought that I’d love to paint one of them. Since this was the last one in the bag, today was the day to make it happen!

oil painting of mandarin orange Mar 15 2020
Mandarin, 8 x 10, oil on linen panel

I’ve been studying classic oil painting a little bit and wanted to try this with an old-masters-classic feel. I used an 8 x 10 oil primed linen panel that had been toned with burnt umber to a light value. To begin, I brushed a thin layer of burnt umber all over the panel and wiped out the light values to create a monochromatic block-in. The oil primed linen worked beautifully for this technique. I had also rubbed a thin layer of 50/50 Gamsol/linseed oil on the dry canvas before blocking in, which helped make the paint move on the surface nicely.

I used Gamblin’s Solvent-Free Gel Medium and my palette consisted of:

  • cadmium yellow light
  • cadmium yellow
  • cadmium orange
  • cadmium red light
  • alizarin permanent
  • yellow ochre
  • transparent earth red
  • ultramarine blue
  • burnt umber
  • ivory black

During my 9 mini landscape paintings project I learned that I like using an analogous color scheme as a color strategy. That’s what I used here: red-orange, orange, yellow-orange, yellow. The surface the mandarin is sitting on is a very dull yellow.

oil painting of mandarin orange Mar 15 2020 - grey
The completed painting converted to greyscale to double check my values

It was fun to study this simple object and look for the nuances of color and temperature. The painting didn’t turn out as loosely as I had hoped, but I was generous with the amount of paint and took my time with it. It was a very enjoyable way to spend my Sunday afternoon!