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To The Roots: A Watercolor Still-Life Of Beets

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Step 1: Setting Up And Thumbnail Compositions


Before jumping in to this tutorial, make sure to buy some colorful beets the next time you’re buying groceries! It will make your watercolor still-life painting much more interesting, while providing the best source of information in order to get a good painting. Once you have your beets, arrange them in a compositionally sound fashion. You can look at Bill’s arrangement for inspiration.

When you have a good setup, start doing some thumbnail sketches on a piece of scrap or sketch paper to fine-tune your composition. Feel free to do as many as necessary, until you have something you like. Bill decides to go for a portrait layout, and keeps the focal point in the bottom left corner rather than in the center. He also sweeps the stems and leaves towards the top right corner, and notes that you don’t have to place everything inside the frame of your sketch.

Throughout the process, occasionally spray your beets with clean water, and when you’re done, you can block in the main values (i.e. light vs dark areas) in your thumbnail sketch.

Below is a close-up of Bill’s thumbnail sketch: