Watercolor Lemons In A Jar

I’m really excited to share this lesson! This week, I painted a palette knife version of lemons in a jar in my membership group. As I was talking to them, it was decided we needed to do a watercolor version too! So, I painted these watercolor lemons in a jar Live and was so excited with how it turned out I wanted to post it here as soon as possible. 


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Acrylic Paint as Watercolor The Social Easel Online Paint Studio Watercolor Lemons in a Jar

We are going to do some watercolor painting and sketching today. It is going to be super simple and fun. And I’m going to go over some of your different choices for mediums that you can use to create this art style.

I don’t know why, but I have a bit of a lemon obsession right now, and I knew I wanted to incorporate some into a painting for summer. 

Many people ask how I come up with my ideas. Like I mentioned in last week’s blog about creating original art, I started to collect a ton of different images and made my first sketch in preparation for my palette knife lesson. Then, I filled my sketch in with watercolors to play with my color scheme ideas, but it was fast. So I am happy to get to play with watercolors again!

Comparing and using Acrylic Paint as Watercolor The Social Easel Online Paint Studio

First, I want to explain the difference between tube and cake watercolors and acrylic paint like watercolors. You can use any with this technique!

Watercolor Paint Comparison

Before we get started with the lemons in a jar painting, I want to show you the different materials because I get this question all the time. 

Let’s start with tube watercolor. A little bit goes a long way. You do not need to use very much of this… I am still getting used to this.

Arteza Watercolor Paint The Social Easel Online Paint Studio

You can see in the image how pigmented the colors are. This Arteza set is as thick as acrylic paint. To make the shade of paint softer, dilute it with water on your palette. Thinning it out makes that small amount spread even further on the page.

So, if you want really strong colors, you will probably like tube watercolor because it is heavily pigmented, but pigment-rich can get expensive.

Tube Arteza Premium Watercolors vs Cake Watercolors Watercolor Lemons in a Jar The Social Easel Online Paint Studio

If you’re looking for something more affordable, you can start with the cake watercolors.

With cake watercolor paint, you first load your brush with a bunch of water and hydrate the cake to get the pigment on your paintbrush. The less water, the stronger the color is going to be. Then, like all watercolor painting, you can layer your paint for more saturated tones and dilute for more transparency.

cake watercolors Watercolor Lemons in a Jar The Social Easel Online Paint Studio

So you can get the same effect with either one. Both mix and blend colors beautifully and dry really fast so you can continue to add layers.

And then last but not least, one of my favorite tips, using acrylic paints like watercolors. I have a few blogs on this topic. 

Let’s say you don’t have any watercolor, but you want to do this project today and achieve the same soft look. You can with your craft acrylic paint.

Acrylic Paint as Watercolor The Social Easel Online Paint Studio (1)

Put a small amount of acrylic paint on your palette and do the same thing as the tube watercolor paint—just water down this acrylic to get the same effect. 

You can see this is pretty heavy pigmented too, just get more water and dilute it down. 

So you’ve got three different options, and hopefully, this helps guide you to figure out what you want to use.

One thing I like about the tube watercolors is that you can get them in white and add white highlights whenever you want. If you choose to use traditional cake paints, you have to leave white space on your paper as you are painting.

Today, I am going to paint these beautiful watercolor lemons in a jar. I will be mainly using tube watercolor paints because I just got this Arteza set to try out. You can do this project using any of the types of paint I just showed you!

How to Sketch and Paint Watercolor Lemons in a Jar

I often watercolor paint in my mixed media pad, but I am using watercolor paper today. Watercolor paper has a different texture, that it’s going to grab the watercolors a little bit more than a mixed media pad. And you can find it in a lot of different weights so it can hold up a bit better to water if you like to use a lot in your work.

First, start with a sketch in pencil. The first thing I wanted to do was get an idea of where my jar would go. Start at the top with the neck and work your way down. 

Supplies DIY Watercolor Lemons in a Jar The Social Easel Online Paint Studio

My jar looks like an old milk jug! I think lemons would look good displayed in a Mason Jar, bowl, or any other dish.

Next, sketch your lemons. Mine are just floating. This is just an idea of where they might be. I add one near the base of the jar too.

Watercolor Lemons in a Jar The Social Easel Online Paint Studio with Arteza Premium Watercolors

Now, you can decide if you want to go over this in a black waterproof pen right now or wait till the end. 

I do a very, very light sketch over the top. In true Christie fashion, I am not creating super concrete lines. Instead, you can see that I make many little lines to make one overall shape for a sketch-like look.

Paint a Background

Begin painting the background in a wash of whatever color you want using a large round brush. I have mine diluted with water quite a bit because I want that light peachy color.

It doesn’t have to be the same on your background everywhere. Some areas can have more pigment than others. It’s totally up to you.

tabletop Watercolor Lemons in a Jar The Social Easel Online Paint Studio

For my tabletop, I use a nice navy tone. I want to create a little bit of a shadow underneath the jar and use less water so it’s a little more pigmented. I mix in a little red and black in the areas I want to be darker.

Start with a light base coat, then if you want more, you can always go back and add more.

Paint the Jar

On the jar, I show you how to start with heavier pigment on your brush. See how I leave it stronger on the side, and then add more water to my brush as I work my way to the center. This shadowing gives us the curve of the glass. So fun and quick. 

Waterlines Watercolor Lemons in a Jar The Social Easel Online Paint Studio

For even darker shadows, dip into a bit of black, and use the point of your brush to lightly add it around the edge.

Paint in the Lemons

Let’s play with the yellows now. 

I started with a warm yellow toned down with some brown on a medium round brush to paint in the lemons. Imagine where your shadows will be, and start there, working all the lemons at once. 

Then as I made my way around, I mixed in a brighter yellow. The water will help blend the colors together even though some of the lemons have begun to dry.

Layering Watercolor Lemons in a Jar The Social Easel Online Paint Studio

While I was painting my lemons, I experience some bleeding into my blue jar. I had just a little too much water still resting on my painting. Don’t panic if this happens to you!

Grab a paper towel and press into the bleeding. Make sure not to wipe. Just some light pressure, and the towel will soak up a lot of the water and pigment.

Then you can go back in if necessary to fill in any color that was lifted.

Painting Stems and Leaves

We didn’t pre sketch the stems and leaves, so they will just be painted to fit in around the lemons, and the sketch lines can be added later if you want to.

I used an array of greens on my palette (a plastic packaging lid **) and the tip of a skinny round brush to paint some lines down from the jar’s neck as stems. 

multi greens Watercolor Lemons in a Jar The Social Easel Online Paint Studio

Again, I had a little bleeding, but this time I used it to my benefit. The stems are in water… So I softly brushed across in a swooping motion to resemble the horizontal water lines.

Next, paint some stems up from the jar’s neck, weaving up through the lemons. Then, tilt your brush to its side and use two curves strokes facing each other to create the almond shape of the leaves on the stems.

Watercolor Lemons in a Jar The Social Easel Online Paint Studio (1)

When you have the general layout of stems and leaves you like, dip into a lighter green to add highlights and layer in a few more leaves. Just play around with contrast and have fun.

Finishing Details

I want you to see how you can layer with watercolor paints. Now that your lemons have dried, go back to them with a light yellow and add highlights. You can create depth in your watercolor paintings similar to acrylics this way. 

Continue to play with your shadows and highlights. I could finesse this all day.

Watercolor Lemons in a Jar twine The Social Easel Online Paint Studio

When the jar is dry, paint some twine or ribbon around the neck.

Because I am using tube watercolor paint, I am going to add some white highlights. If you have acrylic paints, you can use them like watercolors for this step too! There isn’t a rule stating you can’t combine all three types of paint in one painting.

Once your painting is dry, add more sketchy lines with a waterproof pen if you want to. 

Check out the Full Watercolor Lemons in a Jar Painting Tutorial

I want to encourage you to just play with it. Get out your mixed media pad and do one painting in three or four different versions. Don’t be afraid to test things out. Scribble sketch lines on one. If you don’t like it, who cares? Toss it. 

Watercolor Lemons in a Jar The Social Easel Online Paint Studio

Keep the one you like most and frame it. And share it with us in The Social Easel Facebook group and let us know what you learned in the process.

I have painted these Lemons in a Jar a few ways this week, and I have enjoyed every minute. This one definitely makes me want to do more watercolor.