How to paint watercolour lemons

Zingy, refreshing and the epitome of summer – lemons are one of my favourite fruits! And they’re such an iconic image, reminding us of Italian cuisine and long sunny holidays. Their iconic shape and bright yellow colours are easy to replicate in a loose watercolour style, and lemons are super easy for beginners to paint too. Grab your watercolour supplies and let’s go!

how to paint lemons in watercolor

Supplies you’ll need

  • Watercolour paints
  • Watercolour paper
  • A paintbrush (or several if you like a selection)
  • Water jars
  • Paper towel

Colours

  • Sap Green
  • Lemon Yellow Deep
  • Cadmium Yellow
  • Yellow Ochre

All the watercolour paint I use is Winsor & Newton Professional. Don’t worry if you don’t have these exact colours – just find the closest match in your palette.

You don’t necessarily need lots of yellows, but I like a selection to create contrast.

How to paint lemons in watercolour – step-by-step

  1. Using a light yellow mix, outline an oval shape and add two small bumps on each end to create your lemon shape. Mark out an upside-down triangle for a highlight.
  2. Fill in your shape with a light wash, avoiding the highlight area.
  3. While the paint is still wet, add a deeper yellow on the side and underneath, opposite your highlight. This will make the lemon look three-dimensional instead of flat. Allow to blend naturally.
  4. Taking a darker yellow again, or even a brown tone, create a curved line along the bottom-left side of your lemon, not quite at its edge. This will enhance the shape and create a deeper shadow. Allow to blend naturally again.
  5. Using a darker brown tone, add a branch connecting to the top of the lemon, then pull out two small branches either side for the leaves.
  6. Mix up a deep green colour and load up your brush. Drag your brush on its side in a zigzag shape, pulling up to a point at the end, to create a leaf with lots of texture. Repeat the process on the other half to create a balanced leaf, then add a second leaf on the other side. Allow the leaves to touch the lemon for beautiful bleeds.

And there you’ve finished your lemon painting! You can use the techniques in this watercolour tutorial to create lemon patterns or add a bunch of lemons into a bowl for a stunning still-life!

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