Drawing & Painting

Summer Fruit in Watercolor: Paint a Papaya

Summer Fruit Art Tutorial: Watercolor Papaya

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Tropical-themed artwork seems to still be all the rage.

And now that the weather is warming up for many of us, it is a little easier to ease into the tropical fruits state of mind.

Which fruit is on my mind today? A papaya!

In today’s tutorial, we will paint this summer fruit in watercolor.

Supplies & Considerations:

Select your color palette. For this project I’m using Yasutomo Chinese watercolor paints in the following colors:

  • Gamboge yellow
  • Light green
  • Phtalo blue
  • Vermillion
  • Burnt Sienna

Additional supplies that I will be using:

I’ll be mixing my paints on a small ceramic plate.

You may want to find a reference photo of a papaya sliced in half on Google, Pinterest, a creative commons website, or you can use your own.

Paint Papaya Fruit in Watercolor

Phase One (First Layer) – Pale Yellow Base Layer

The first wash will be a very pale yellow. I am using more water than pigment. I started by wetting the paper in the shape of a papaya, and then I added a little gamboge yellow to my paintbrush. I then dipped the brush in my water jar again before adding pigment to the wet portion of the paper.

Any area of the paper that is still shiny or is cold to the touch is still wet or damp. Allow this layer to dry completely before applying the next layer of paint.

This is the first wash, nearly dry.
Here is a close up image of the first wash. You can tell that more color was applied in the center.

Phase Two (Second Layer) – Green & More Yellow

In the second wash, I will avoid painting anything in the center and instead add more yellow to the edge. I will also add a little green (light green darkened with petal blue) to the edge to represent a portion of the fruit’s skin.

To add indications of skin along the edge, you’ll want to use the very tip of your paintbrush and drag it lightly along the outer edge of the fruit.

Avoid outlining the entire fruit – unless that is your stye preference.

Since they are thin and very little water is used, these lines will dry quickly. Next, you can apply your second layer of yellow paint. Avoid painting in the center.

Using the wet-on-dry technique (adding wet paint to a dry surface), I applied more yellow to the outer edges.

I am going to let this dry some, but not completely, before adding more paint.

Here you can see indications of skin in green.
Here is the second wash of yellow.
A close up of the second wash of yellow.

Phase Three – Adding in Orange

I consider vermillion to be a dull orange, but I have read it listed as a cool red. So formally, this is a cool red. Either way, it makes for a near perfect match to the orangey flesh of the papaya.

So, now I am going to apply this color over the last yellow layer after it has mostly dried.

Again, avoiding the center where the seeds will be added, I am going to add vermillion while the last layer is still a bit damp in order to create a more natural appearance of fleshy fruit.

You may find yourself adding a little more yellow towards the edges and also dropping in more orange as you go while the paint is still wet.

The paint will dry lighter than it appears on paper. And this time we want it to dry completely before painting in the seeds.

Tip: If your paint palette is drying as you wait for your papaya to dry, you can reactivate your watercolors by spritzing them with water or by dropping water on the paint with your paintbrush. Mixing the paint around with a wet brush will bring them back to life.

Phase Four – Adding the Seeds

As you paint in seeds, leave some of the areas light yellow to represent highlights.

Even though we will add shadows later, you may even want to use two different shades of brown at this stage. It will make the seeds appear to have depth.

Paint in round shapes using the tip of your brush. It’s okay if the different shades of brown bleed in to one another.

As the circles begin to dry, drop in more of the darker color to add more depth.

It is okay if it looks weird or separated from the rest of the fruit. We will apply one final wash at the end that will pull it all together.

Now paint in the papya seeds.

Personal Adjustments

Once the seeds dry you may find that you want to add a little more orange and/or yellow paint around them. You also may want to add another shade of brown to add more dimension to the seeds.

Here is where you can make minor tweaks prior to our final wash.

The Final Wash

After the painting dries completely you can paint a final wash of pale yellow over the entire papaya using more water than pigment.

And that’s it, you painted a tropical papaya fruit that you can use to create patterns, add to wall art, or any way that you wish.

In Closing

This is just one way of painting a summer fruit in watercolor. I encourage you to try different methods and add your own flair.

I would love to see what you paint!

Tag me @annettefrancineart on Instagram with the hashtag #tropicalfruitpapaya if you try out this tutorial.

Supplies Used:

#6 Blick Master
Round Synthetic Brush


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