Decisions, Decisions

A single lime. So simple, yet so many decisions. I had made an artist’s first decision: subject matter, but next came choices about style, composition, materials. I knew that once begun, each line or stroke would narrow some possibilities and open others. More decisions would follow: color, value, precision. At long last, I chose two paths—one botanical, the other more abstract. I worked on both at the same time, alternating between them as paint dried, until finally, I had only one final decision: when to stop.

And now, you decide: which appeals to you more?



Tips and Techniques– I did the botanical lime using a combination of colored pencil and watercolor, building up many layers to tone the lime and achieve subtly in the greens. I used negative painting techniques for the other, using mainly phthalo blue and nickel azo yellow. Both paints are fairly intense, transparent, and staining, so the blue did not overwhelm the yellow, as it might have with weaker yellows. This technique works well when there are layered shapes, so I added the suggestion of leaves, stems, and fruit to give it more dimension.

42 thoughts on “Decisions, Decisions

  1. Both are awesome! Personally I prefer the “botanical “ image. However, I think if the lime was a little more defined in the first one, that might be the winner!

  2. I love the first one with that touch of blue. Conveys more feeling to me. Amazing that you can do both. Happy new year and thank you for your posts.

  3. I normally like very realistic art and am a realistic painter myself, but sometimes the looser, more expressive painting styles are appealing to me. The first one just has so much energy and makes me smile. You’ve done both so well it’s a tough choice!

  4. I like them both — I especially love the botanical. I love negative painting, too, so the first one appeals to me, however, I feel that the lime needs a little more definition — just a little — because it kind of gets lost in the background. Otherwise, it’s difficult to choose between two different but equally appealing paintings!

  5. I always love your botanicals, as I do this one. But the first one is quite different for you, & I love it! Dreamy & evocative.

  6. Both are lovely Jean but my preference is for the first one – it leaves more to the imagination. I do agree however with those above who say the lime in the first one could do with standing out from the background a little more, being the focal point of the image it is a little overpowered by the background. I will always prefer a more abstract loose style of painting – it’s what I love…

    • Thanks Evelyn- I’ve really had to work at being loose, but I’ve learned to enjoy letting the paint do more of the work. Still, I also love a precise drawing or painting. It’s sort of a test each time to see if I can do it.

  7. I love them both!! What a great idea to do a loose painting next to a more botanical one. Thanks for sharing your work and techniques. I always enjoy them.
    HAPPY NEW YEAR!

  8. I like them both – first for abstract and suggestive elements, second for precision. I think I would have made the leaf a bit different shade of green, but that is my opinion. Both are well done and enjoyable for its own sake.

  9. Wow they are both so great! Normally I am drawn to the botanical ones, both in your work, and in my own work. But this time I do like the loose abstract style with negative painting just a little bit more. Your work is so wonderful that I say do Which ever one you enjoy doing. But I have a feeling you thoroughly loved working on each of them, didn’t you?!

    • I did enjoy both! I think I would not have been as satisfied had I just done one. I wanted to try being precise, but I also wanted to experiment and let the paint do some of the work. I made them as a Thank you note for someone who gave my son a dozen limes from his yard!

  10. Both are lovely. I do like the abstract best. I am trying to experiment with doing more abstract watercolors so this is inspiring. Thank you for your Drawn In posts. I get excited when ever I have one to look at. It is very kind of you to share your art, thoughts & time.

    • Thanks Pamela! That’s nice to hear! The nice thing about abstract work is that it feels more spontaneous and you never know quite how it will turn out. I think it’s good to try new things regardless. I like combining different techniques and expanding my skills. Happy New Year!

  11. An intriguing challenge! At the risk of sounding wishy-washy, I really like them both for the unique look each presents. Thanks for sharing your thoughts about the steps you take in the process.

  12. I love this experiment, and have never seen it done before – so good going! When I first began painting it was botanical art for me, the slow detailed build up, the 3D feel, but years later I moved more into ‘flower painting’ with the atmospheric watercolour techniques and effects playing their part, and this latter approach was far more enjoyable and felt more creative too. What this lead to in the end for me is combining the two approaches. But over to your limes! I love the first painting of the lime best for the very feel of it where the eye lingers more, but admire the second for the lifelike detail and skill. Great post!

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