Lemons and a Mandarin

How do you finish a painting in one day?

With difficulty.

I actually finished this one at 11:57pm, and with 3 minutes to spare, took a photo while it was still wet (no mean task to get it without reflections too).

I was thinking of drawing a bowl of fruit, but I couldn’t find a bowl that I liked, and didn’t have enough fruit in the fridge anyway to fill a bowl. Being that it’s winter, the season of all things citrus, and Hala dared me to paint an orange, I grabbed the *last* mandarin in the fridge and a couple of lemons and placed them on a piece of cloth I dug up from the kitchen drawers. Took me a while to get the composition right, but that’s why a camera can come in so handy. It basically lets me visualize what I want before I paint.

I still suffer with fabric. I still haven’t figured out the trick. But, look at that gorgeous perfect leaf! And the lemons, both halved and whole!!
Very happy with this one.


I suppose it would be a cliche saying that I was nuts getting myself into this thing. I just finished this painting a couple of hours ago, and just under the wire on timing too. Considering I’ve got 50 something midterms to grade and research to work on, I was spending every spare minute I got painting to be able to finish this within a week.

I painted this from a picture I’d taken in Sedona, AZ on the way to the Grand Canyon, when I was in this artisan market and someone was selling sea shells. This project was, well, exhausting. The details, the frustration, the SHELLS!!! I think I was cursing all manner of shells in this universe while I painted this thing. At a few points I was very tempted to just quit, or resign myself to the fact that it will suck.

I think it’s obvious from the painting that the hardest part were the shells in the blue wood box. I will honestly say that at several points, I had no clue what I was doing. I was just slapping on paint as close as I can tell to the photo, and praying that it will work. I guess my right brain knows a thing or two, because I was pretty happy with the end result.

Does it perfectly match my vision of what I’d wanted it to be? No. But a few parts do and I’m satisfied with it. I feel tangible progress.

In the interests of full disclosure and my own sanity, in the future, at my discretion, I may give myself 2 weeks to finish paintings that are excessively detailed and larger in size than an A4 paper. Especially when I have midterms to grade!!!

I always enjoyed drawing and painting. There’s something very satisfying and enjoyable about getting an exact line just so or watching a brush put paint on a white paper. I also love the sense of accomplishment as well. But most of all, it’s my thing.

That is, it used to be my thing.  Back when I had art contests with my sister, after which we’d debate for hours as to who had won. Back when my best friend dragged me to Books & Pens in my second year of engineering and practically forced me to buy my first set of chalk pastels and a big drawing pad. That night, after two mediocre attempts, I stayed up till 3:00am and produced my best painting to date.

I want to get back into it all. So I decided that the only way I would do so, is if I set myself both a challenge and deadlines. Of course, blogging about it is important because then it actually makes me keep those deadlines.

I’m calling it the “Weekly Art Project”. Every week I would complete one painting. To make it more focused, I will choose a different topic every month, so that each month I’d produce four works centered around one theme. I decided that this first month’s theme is going to be “Still Life in Watercolor”.

I’ve already identified several weaknesses in finishing my first painting (in years I might add), which are giving me ideas for future monthly topics to tackle those very weaknesses. This first one actually includes two things I’m most afraid of in a painting: large empty spaces or surfaces, and fabric. I actually created the setup I painted with lighting and everything. I think I acquitted myself fairly well but with definite room for improvement in the future. Excuse some of the strange highlights, scanning and taking a picture of this is exposing paint and paper deformation in certain places in strange way. Till next week.

They keep coming back, both the dragonfly and the bumblebee. I think they like the basil on my window sill.

The bee drops in half a dozen times a day, and makes a stop at each and every little white basil flower. The Dragonfly just sits there. It shows up once sometime during the day, lands on some dried up part of the basil plants, which have grown quite large, and sits there. For hours.

Then it leaves.

I always wonder the same thing. I wonder where it is, that they call home.

I hope they will always come back, they or a descendant, for I think them beautiful and soothing.