Fruit Painting

Pulling out my paints is the fastest route to my happy place. It’s so nice to be able to turn on a good Spotify playlist (or a short story podcast), and settle in and zone out. Someday I’d love to figure out portraits, but for now fruit and flowers are simple and fun to paint. I’ve…

Pulling out my paints is the fastest route to my happy place. It’s so nice to be able to turn on a good Spotify playlist (or a short story podcast), and settle in and zone out.

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Someday I’d love to figure out portraits, but for now fruit and flowers are simple and fun to paint. I’ve been doing a few of these more graphic collection-style paintings lately inspired by some of the pre-pop Warhol prints above. I started a butterfly one for Evie’s room that I need to finish still – it feels like I have a lot of half-done paintings sitting around. :/

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I wanted something to hang on the wall in the kitchen right away, something big (to better fill the tall space) and colorful to pop against the new pale gray walls, so I thought a fruit collection would be really fun for the room and would be simple enough to finish in one night.

I don’t often buy new canvases. I think it’s fun (and less expensive) to recycle thrift store paintings. I got this giant one for just a few dollars. Shocker, I know. Who wouldn’t want this gem?

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The canvas was in great shape (there wasn’t any texture to the old painting – and if there had been, it would have been pretty easy to sand it down). I gave everything including the frame a quick coat of white paint. (PS I have some plans brewing for that unfortunate frame)
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While the paint was drying, I quickly sketched up the layout of my fruit collection idea. I tried to group them loosely by color.
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I love oil paints, but the clean up is a pain, so I just used acrylics this time. I lightly sketched the fruits on my canvas and then outlined them with black paint. 
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Then I just layered on colors. Like for the grapefruit, you can see on the plate here I had ivory and white and pink and orange and red and two or three different yellows. Then I’ve found the easiest way to get a painterly but still sort of realistic look is to just use a light hand to sort of layer on color according to how the light would hit the fruit. I really love it when little pops of the black base peek through the top layers of color.

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I love painting this way – where you purposefully think less about what a banana looks like and more about texture and how light changes the eye’s perception of a color. It’s easier to do with fruit than with butterflies. :)
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I know it’s not some great masterpiece, but it was a fun exercise to start and finish a painting in the same day. And at the very least, the painting fills my wall up well and is a shot of bright, happy color in a pretty monochromatic space. Perfect for a kitchen!

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Join the Conversation

49 thoughts on “Fruit Painting

  1. Would you maybe make the skinny frame a different color? So it stands out from the light colored wall a little more? Your painting is gorgeous but with the white background is doesn't really stand out.

  2. Oh my bad, I didn't realize you had a giant built-in on the other side of the room, in that super dark color. I see where you'd want everything else to be low key.

  3. So cool that you did it yourself – might be difficult to find a canvas in the same size and it might not work with the proportions but it would be awesome if you also did a veggie painting. Just imagining your girls having friends over and them saying "oh those paintings??? Yeah, my mom knocked those out in a day!"

  4. This turned out so great. And thanks for the tips! I actually picked up a really big canvas with a custom frame for cheap this morning in the hopes of making my own art. This has a lot of texture to it already, which I'm hoping will be a good thing for attempting abstract, I guess we'll see!

  5. Wow! I'm so impressed! Your fruit painting is beautiful. The light and layers of color really give each piece a lively presence on the canvas. Thanks for sharing! Glad to see the BM titanium made it up somewhere.

  6. Jenny this is so lovely!!! The proportions you chose for the various fruit is my favorite part.

    Super novice question – do you have to wait for each layer to dry before you can add more depth/variation to the color? Or, can you add different shades right on top of each other? You mentioned using a light hand, is that so that you don't have as much drying time in between?

    I agree that this type of project is such a relief compared to most house DIY, which can feel like tackling a mountain barefoot.

  7. Good for you! Painting should be about the joy as much as the finished product, because then you can see the joy in the finished product :) Beautiful!

  8. As someone without an artistic bone in my body (my family is full of wonderful artists, but the gene skipped me!), I loved reading about your technique! It does sound relaxing, and the finished product looked great! Love a happy kitchen painting =)

  9. So nice! I have a dear friend Grace who is 101 (for real) and she has a 'fruit wall' in her home. Through the years, her husband, two daughters and herself added something they each made with a fruit theme. Her husband painted wood block pieces each with a different fruit, her daughter finger painted a bowl of fruit in kindergarten (she's now 69!), and Grace herself embroidered a fruit themed piece. It always generates discussion and fond memories.

  10. Love that you are using your own art in your home! I definitely paint/draw then throw it in a drawer until I forget about it an can throw it away or start over.

  11. Your art looks lovely, but it's probably not a good idea to use other works of art as your canvas. There is actually a part of the Copyright Act that protects works from destruction. Its called the Visual Artists Rights Act and protects the rights of the artist irrespective of whether you purchased the art of if you think it's valuable. I would suggest purchasing new canvases for your work.

  12. I love this!!! I was going to originally ask what kind of paint you used but my artsy friends informed me that it's gesso. Is that what you used?

  13. This is just a quick note to Kristen regarding VARA (the Visual Artists Rights Act)- I'm afraid you are misinformed as to the scope of the act and its applicability. On a very basic level, the artist seeking to assert rights must be of "recognized stature"- and unless I'm missing something, it does not apply here (but if you are or know the artist, I'm sorry that I don't know of you!)

  14. Hi Melissa, the art appears to be an original painting which is signed by the artist. That can qualify as Recognized Stature within VARA. The unknown in this instance is whether the painting was a mass produced painting (and if it was produced with an edition of more than 200 copies would not be protected within VARA.) However if it is not, it could fall within VARA, and the artist could have a claim. My point isn't that it's likely you would get sued, but why even chance it? Why cover up a piece of art, when you could just as easily purchase a new canvas? I am not related to the artist, I just have worked in the creative industry for a long time, and don't like the thought of someones work being painted over because it's not to your taste.

  15. Hi, I'm confused. Did you use the frame the original artwork came with or did you buy a new frame for it? It's lovely! Thx!

  16. I love that painting! And that's a great tip to recycle a big old painting from the thrift store. I'll try that.

    Do you ever use gel medium with your acrylics. It makes a thin glaze. I used to put a few layers on top of my paintings to give them a "not so new" look and to add depth. I usually used a pinkish or yellowish glaze.

    Any way I love your painting just as it is.

  17. First, I just looked at the pictures. And I assumed that your painting was an inspiration pic you pulled from a magazine. THEN I read it and realized that you actually did that. And you were so modest about it! I think it looks awesome!!

  18. love it, but i don't feel comfortable to paint over an other artist painting. blank one is cheap.
    and if you don't like a painting don't buy it, leave it for somebody falling in love with this art.We need to be respectful with a art creation.

  19. Regarding the "disrepecting art" issue that some people have a problem with- I've been an illustor for over 30 years and have many friends who make their living as fine artists. I don't believe any of them would see a problem in reusing a painting this way. It's creative thinking! If it was a Monet, no…but it's not.

  20. Jenny, you never disappoint! I love the idea of repurposing the canvas. I've been known to do it myself, only my paintings don't look as good as yours. Thanks for sharing the process!

  21. The bigger issue here is that you're using gesso over a pre-existing painting. this is all fine if the previous painting is also acrylic, but if your thrift find was painted in oils, you'll find that in time your artwork will crack and peel. (Acrylic gesso is water based. Oil+water — oil will rise to the top).
    Cute idea, but if you want your work to last you really should spend the cash for a fresh start on a new canvas.

  22. I love it! It adds so much light to the room. But now the corner cabinet should be painted turquoise and the door a lighter color too..

  23. So fun!

    I've also bought thrift store canvases and repurposed them. Remember all those awesome plates and chairs using thrifted paintings from the Anthropologie and Swarm collaboration? Those were so inspiring that I wanted to try out the techniques myself. I made some purses out of old paintings.

    I think that by the time something has wound up at the thrift store, it's fair game. And if Anthropologie's legal department OK'ed Swarm's products, I'm going to go ahead and say Jenny's cool project is fine :)

  24. I sometimes try to listen to short stories in the car on road trips, but they end up putting me in a kind of trance. Listening to them during project time sounds perfect! Now I just need to find more time for projects! Also, I am totally impressed by your painting skills.

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